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The Top 10 cricket stories of 2010

Submitted by rickeyre on January 3, 2011 - 10:30am

(This article is incomplete, but the likelihood that I won't finish off the details, I've decided to post it as is. - Rick, 16.2.11)

An intermittent and notionally annual tradition of mine since my early Cricinfo days in 1996, it started out as a reaction to the mid-December efforts of the press agencies to put out their "Top 10 [Sports | Entertainment | Political | Kute Kittehs] News Stories" Of The Year lists. With some of my past examples available online, here is my list of the Top 10 Cricket Stories of 2010.

Some stories were so big that they spun off into multiple top 10 items, while in some cases I have decided to roll some multiple stories into one item. A bit of a judgment call, really. Number one, however, picked itself:

1. The Pakistan spot-fixing scandal

It took a British newspaper mired in a culture of covert, unethical journalistic practices to expose what the ICC's official Anti-Corruption Unit did not. Serious allegations that members of the Pakistan team were making big money from fixing isolated incidents in matches, rather than the overall result. Most notorious example alleged involved the bowling of no-balls in a given over. A second expose in the middle of the England-Pakistan ODI series caused serious ructions between the two camps, with PCB chairman Ijaz Butt making (and later being forced to retract) a ludicrous counter-claim of match-fixing against the England team. At year's end three Pakistan players - Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir, and Mohammad Asif - were awaiting a hearing by the ICC's ACU on spot-fixing charges. A disturbing spinoff from this scandal also appears on my Top 10 list.

2. The IPL's greed-ridden franchise expansion.

Greed, corruption, nepotism, conflict-of-interest, political interference. All a part of the off-field shenanaghans in the Indian Premier League in 2010. Most farcical of all involved the expansion of the league from 8 to 10 franchises, with the winning bid from Kochi mired in equity scandals involving leading politician Shashi Tharoor and his girlfriend. But that was only as mere fraction of the problems, with Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab later thrown out of the league because of earlier governance transgressions. The league will enter its fourth season in 2011, but one person missing from the scene is the subject of this list's item number 3.

3. The sacking of Lalit Modi

The BCCI chewed up and spat out its IPL Commissioner, Lalit Modi, as IPL 3 was drawing to a conclusion, after a stack of allegations of financial transgressions, including his role in the Kochi franchise bid. The biggest enterpreneurial ego in the history of the sport refused to go quietly, with the help of his very own media channel to the world known as Twitter. The "IPL Commissioner (Suspended)" as he came to describe himself for some months threatened (not without foundation) to dish up some dirt on other BCCI operatives in retaliation. While he will not be a part of IPL4, the court battles and legal investigations will continue well into 2011.

4. Zulqarnain Haider flees to the UK

Junior member of the Pakistan squad Zulqarnain Haider made a sudden exit from the team camp in the middle of an ODI series in Dubai in November, leaving message on Facebook and Twitter suggesting that he was in danger. He turned up in England, seeking asylum there announcing his retirement from international cricket after claiming that he has been threatened by operatives of illegal bookmakers. The PCB responded to his retirement by sacking him. He meets with British authorities regarding his residency application in January. Are we seeing the first example of an international cricketer about to disappear into a witness protection scheme? Will he be the last?

5. Tendulkar's ODI 200

6. Knobgate

7. Murali's retirement and 800th wicket

8. John Howard's failed bid for the ICC presidency

9. Australia's decline

10. Shoaib Malik marries Sania Mirza