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Session-dashboard - Tracking Test Matches as they progress.
Tracking T20 run-chases in an innovative manner - See here.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Defining moments of 2007

As the 'Double World Cup' year comes to a close, all the test-playing nations (except Pakistan) are back in action, playing in various countries against each other. This was the first time that there were 2 World Cups in the same year (ODI and T20 action) and the fans had mixed reactions to the tournaments. No wonder most of the defining moments in the year happened during the World Cup matches - some on the field whereas some (very sad ones, especially) off it. Let us look at the top 5 events (in increasing order of significance) that stood out in this year from the cricketing scene.

The bowling World Record changed hands from the mercurial Shane Warne to Muralitharan - this is one record that will remain for a long time. None of the current players seem to have any chance of nearing the tally of Murali's wickets, while Sachin Tendulkar seems to be going on the right way to the batting peak. The Home series against South Africa might well see the Indian claim the top position from Brian Lara.

It was ironic that the 2 sub-continental teams that could not qualify for the Super Eights, starred in the World Cup of a format that was made for the more atheletic and skilled teams (like Australia, South Africa). Nobody ever expected India to be in the finals, forget beating Pakistan in a last-over finish. This format will herald a new breed of specialist players in all countries who will be the next level of the bits-and-pieces players.

The ODI World Cup ended with disappointment for greats like Brian Lara and Inzamam-ul-Haq, who took the opportunity to bow out of international ODI. Greg Chappell and Rahul Dravid (a little later) exited from their Management positions, thanks to their team's poor performance. The Indian and Pakistan teams bowed out early from the World Cup - thanks to their poor performances in the league. Bangladesh and Ireland moved to the Super Eights, heralding a new era for their young teams.

There was one another incident that will be looked at, in the future probably, as one of the path-breaking moments - the birth of ICL in India. The Indian cricket league currently occupies the status of a 'rebel' - very similar to what Kerry Packer had done decades ago. How this will affect the cricketing scene, remains to be seen. But, there are already some changes that are visible - the creation of the 'official T20 league from India' called Indian Premier League. Most of the countries have supported the IPL but how long, is anyone's guess. These leagues have given a new lease for international players to make decent money in the fag-end of their career, while giving the younger generation from India to play against/with established internationals. Probably the next step is for similar leagues to crop up in other countries also. That will be really interesting.

But the moment that shocked the cricketing world was the untimely death of Bob Woolmer, just after his team (Pakistan) was defeated by Ireland. The cause of his death has been shifting from the natural ones to unnatural, without any clear evidence to prove either of them. Pakistan had always proved to be a tough nut to crack, for any captain or coach, but Woolmer seemed to have been doing a decent job of it. Though there were some reports of tiffs between him and Shoaib Akhtar, Woolmer had formed a nucleus that could have taken Pakistan to the next level. Talks of match-fixing surfaced after his death, leading to many conspiracy theories. The Woolmer family has not made their feelings public and that itself tells a tale. A coach who introduced various innovative techniques in the coaching world, had to pay with his life, on an assignment that was probably his most challenging.
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