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Top 10 cricket stories of 2006

Submitted by rickeyre on December 31, 2006 - 8:29pm

(I started writing this post two years ago and never finished it. This is how far I got at the time - Rick, 24.12.08)

10. The expansion of ODI cricket

With Bermuda, Canada, Holland, Ireland and Scotland all playing official one-day internationals in 2006 - part of the spoils for qualifying for the 2007 World Cup - cricket is starting to look more and more like a truly international sport. It has thrown ODI statistics as we knew them out of whack - Bangladesh's win-loss record (18-10) was the equal second-best of any nation in 2006 - but we can expect to see more of this if we want our sport to grow.

9. Serial brinksmanship by the BCCI

Another typical year for the Board of Control of Cricket in India. They didn't want to play Twenty20 cricket, because the shorter games reduced the time available to advertisers. They didn't want to stage the ICC Champions Trophy, because the ICC would get the proceeds and not them.

But they did want to host the 2011 World Cup, despite it being Oceania's turn. So they badgered the ICC into calling for bids, and then missed the deadline for submitting their entry. The ICC accepted their late (combined ACC) entry, and the four Asian Test nations will host the 2011 tourney, with India claiming the finals.

And towards the year's end, the BCCI wanted to submit their own bid for the global ICC broadcast and internet rights for the next seven years - the same BCCI that is so technologically advanced that it doesn't even have its own website!

All of this could be accepted as the behaviour of a big business playing corporate hardball, except that the BCCI rivals the North Korean Government for transparency, governance, politics and wealth distribution. Plus it has Jagmohan Dalmiya hanging around in the corridor like a bad smell.

8. Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe used to be called the "bread basket of Africa", now all that's left is the basket case. The deluded mismanagement of President Robert Mugabe has ruined the whole country, and cricket has not been immune. Zimbabwe stepped down from Test cricket in 2006 yet continued to play one-day cricket. In a country where inflation is raging at about 1100 per cent per annum, Zimbabwe Cricket fell foul of the law for doing business in foreign currencies. With all of their best players banished, Terry Duffin began the year as Zimbabwe's captain, only to be mysteriously dumped in July and replaced by 21 year-old tail-ender Prosper Utseya. Zimbabwe's future appears to be playing against the likes of Kenya, Namibia and Canada - if Zimbabwean cricket can survive at all.

1. The Oval Test forfeited
2. The crucifixion of Darrell Hair
3. Shoaib Akhtar and the other guy suspended on drugs charges, then winning an appeal on the grounds of ignorance
4. England drubbed in the Ashes
5. Australia 434/4, South Africa 438/9, Joburg March 12
6. Billion-dollar deal for ICC broadcast rights
7. Sangakkara and Jayawardene's 626-run partnership