Here again is my annual selection of the biggest stories in world cricket in the 2011 calendar year. Unlike all the media agencies whose end-of-year lists have to be finalised in early December to meet deadlines, this list, which I have compiled on an intermittent basis since 1996, doesn’t go to deadline until after the Boxing Day Tests were completed in Melbourne and Durban.
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"Tendulkar’s 100th 100 a certainty and what a place to do it. 1st Test played at MCG as well as 1st ODI"
- Tony Greig, Twitter, 5.42pm 27.12.11
"Did I jinx him...if so sorry"
- Tony Greig, Twitter, 6.01pm 27.12.11, five minutes after Tendulkar was dismissed for 73.
The continuing expectation of Sachin Tendulkar's "100th international hundred" and a delightful partnership with his rejuvenated team-mate Rahul Dravid. The highlights of the second day of the Melbourne Test between India and Australia, 27 December 2011.
Tendulkar fell for 73, and that faux statistical milestone remains unconquered for now. But it was still a joyous innings to watch, encapsulated in these highlights, from the official Cricket Australia Youtube channel, of the post-tea session of play:
"Ever felt like you walked through the wardrobe and ended up in Narnia? What a day: one I will cherish and remember forever"
- Ed Cowan, Twitter, 26.12.11
Australia's sensational seven-run loss to New Zealand at Bellerive Oval on Monday was the first Test defeat for new chairman of selectors John Inverarity and new team coach Mickey Arthur. Signs are that there will be more losses against India. Change is coming, but it is neither quick nor easy.
We've seen two great Test matches between South Africa and Australia in the past fortnight.
At Newlands, Cape Town, a dramatic South African collapse was followed by an utterly historic Australian one, after which the home side's batsmen stormed back to claim a stunning win by eight wickets within two and a half days.
Peter Roebuck, cricketer, coach, writer, broadcaster and advocate, died tragically on Saturday night in Cape Town at the age of 55. Much has already been written about his acclaimed legacy. Much more will be written about his complexities. I just want to share one anecdote.
Some critics have described Day Two at Newlands as one of Australia's worst ever days of Test cricket. It's not even close. We bowled out the opposition for 96, after the captain played a classic leader's knock of 151. And have we forgotten those long long long days in the field bowling to the Poms less than a year ago?
But nor is it every day that an Australian Test team is bowled out for 47. Especially not after losing their first nine wickets for 21 runs. Eighteen overs worthy of the Pantheon of the Hideous utterly ruined what was otherwise a top day for Australia.
On 4 April 2011 the ICC Executive Board talked glowingly about the World Cup that had concluded in Mumbai two days earlier. Among their remarks:
"This ICC Cricket World Cup has been very successful and memorable....
"...the event was the most successful in history.
"The tournament reinforced the attraction of 50 over cricket and showed the enthusiasm and excitement generated by nation v nation cricket.