Cricket Review 2007
Australia completed three World Cup wins in a row when they won the 2007 title. Like in the 2003 campaign, what was special about 2007 run was that they remained unbeaten. Ricky Ponting’s side won 11 games in  a row. More importantly, the defending champions were rarely challenged throughout the competition.

Explosive batting by the openers, solid middle order, experienced lower order, all-round abilities and a top-class pace attack, Australia looked all bases covered. The only weak link seemed to be their spin bowling options but when you have so much of depth in the side, lack of spin depth looked like a minor matter.

Glenn McGrath bowed out on a high taking 26 wickets in the tournament. His is a unique career. The fast bowler featured in four World Cups and Australia went on to play finals on all four occasions – 1996, 1999, 2003 and 2007. Into the bargain, on three occasions he was a World Champion.

Adam Gilchrist’s form wasn’t all that great heading into the final. He had made two half-centuries in the competition but it was early in the tournament.

The prolific left-hander was advised by one of his coaches back in Australia to place a squash ball in his bottom hand to give him more control with his grip. He opted to try out the method in a World Cup final and it paid off as he smashed a stunning 149 in the final against Sri Lanka.

Commercially, the World Cup was a flop. India had a first-round exit after playing just three games and television revenue suffered a serious blow. Pakistan failed to go beyond the first round too and the death of their coach Bob Woolmer after their elimination in Jamaica send shockwaves in the cricketing world. The former champions had suffered a surprise loss to Ireland.

Exorbitant ticket prices also kept the locals out of the venues and as a result the games were played in front of empty stadiums.

This year the ICC also introduced the inaugural World T-20. Later, the event’s name was changed to T-20 World Cup.

India were slow to buy into the story that the T-20 format could prosper. The format was introduced as it was felt that people were losing interest in Test cricket and a brief three-hour game could attract younger fans. Running down the format, then Indian cricket board chief Jagmohan  Dalmiya said, ‘When there is a Test match in my backyard in Calcutta, there are 100,000 fans inside the ground and 20,000 outside the ground.’

India didn’t even send a full-strength side. They handed the captaincy to a young M.S. Dhoni. The side was full of rookies. Fate would have it that India would meet arch-rivals Pakistan in the final.

Dhoni’s cool as a cucumber demeanour when things weren’t going for his side was a godsend and India held their nerves during several tight games to get over the line.

The final at the Wanderers was a last over thriller with the little known Joginder Sharma showing nerves of steel going against the seasoned Misbah-ul-Haq. Soon, T-20 cricket became a popular format in India and the following year the IPL was born.

Australia also stamped their authority in Test match cricket handing England a 5-0 whitewash.

Several star Australian players including Shane Warne had announced their retirements prior to the series and they went on a high with a dominant performance. Australia had surrendered the Ashes to England in 2005 and they avenged that defeat with a clinical performance.

Warne with 23 wickets and McGrath with 21 wickets enjoyed good returns, but they were both outshined by Stuart Clark, who finished with 26 wickets at an average of 17.

This was anticipated as one of the greatest Ashes series in history with England possessing some star players in their ranks to match Australia. Tickets for Boxing Day Test and New Year Test were sold out within hours after being put into sale. But the series proved to be an anti-climax. It was also John Buchanan’s climax after being in charge of the Australian side for seven years and his planning was meticulous.

India once again ruined a good start in South Africa suffering a 2-1 series loss. There were dramatic scenes at the Wanderers when Indian quicks bowled out South Africa for 84 runs to set up a famous win. But the Proteas quicks hit back winning in Durban and Cape Town to maintain their unbeaten record against India at home.

Pakistan toured in the latter part of South African summer and competed much better than India although they too suffered a 2-1 series loss.

Jackques Kallis was just phenomenal and went on to yet again prove why he is the greatest all-rounder the game has seen along with Sir Garry Sobers. He topped the run charts with 272 runs and into the bargain there were ten wickets as well. He was named Player of the Series.

West Indies were in England for four Tests and after starting off so well in the drawn Lord’s Test, they ran out of ideas and suffered a humbling 3-0 loss.

Veteran Shivnarine Chanderpaul had a fabulous series scoring 446 runs. He only played in three Tests missing a game due to injury and on that occasion West Indies were blown away for less than 150 in both innings. Needless to say, that there was little support for the left-hander as the next highest run scorer was Chris Gayle, who finished with 220 runs.

It didn’t help that West Indies skipper Ramnaresh Sarwan had to withdraw from the series and return home after injuring his shoulder in a fielding accident. He was replaced by Darren Ganga but the new captain didn’t infuse much confidence and his own form was well below par, not being able to score a half-century after eight innings.

India recorded a series win in England thanks to some fabulous bowling from Zaheer Khan. The left-arm quick claimed nine wickets at Trent Bridge where India won by seven wickets. Zaheera finished the series with 18 wickets.

In the high scoring drawn Test match at The Oval, India posted 664 in the first innings. There was only one century in the Indian innings but it wasn’t from any of the usual suspects. It came from their number eight batter who answered to the name of Anil Kumble.

India could have won the series 2-0, but they ran out of time at The Oval after claiming six opposition wickets in the second innings.

South Africa continued their impressive overseas record with a series win in Pakistan. Kallis scored hundreds in each innings in Karachi in setting up a 160 run win and that’s all what they needed to wrap up the two match series.

Sri Lanka and Australia agreed to play the Test series between the countries for Warne – Murali trophy. Although Warne had retired from cricket early that year, Muralitharan was still active. It was his last tour to Australia and he couldn’t help his country achieve their dream of winning a first ever Test win on Australian soil.

Prolific top order batsman Kumar Sangakkara made it nearly possible. His marathon seven hour knock produced 192 runs and the innings was cut shot as he was wrongly given out caught behind. Later, umpire Rudi Keortzen apologized to Sri Lanka’s captain in waiting.

Former captain Marvan Atapattu brought an end to his career with a sparkling 80 in his last Test innings. For a batter who started off his career in abysmal fashion scoring five ducks in his first six innings, he didn’t do badly to end up with over 5500 Test runs.

After the disappointment in Australia, Sri Lanka did well to finish the year on a high note as they won a three match Test series against England.

Political stability ensured bilateral cricket between Pakistan and India continued with a three Test series played in India.

Anil Kumble took seven wickets in Delhi giving India an 1-0 lead. The next two Tests in Bangalore and Calcutta were high scoring draws.

In Delhi, Sachin Tendulkar went past Allan Border's aggregate of 11,174 runs to become the second highest run scorer in Test cricket. He would retire as the highest run scorer in the game.

Sourav Ganguly scored his first double hundred in the third Test. He finished on 239, the highest score by an Indian left-hander going past Vinod Kambli’s 220.

India also conceded 76 extras in Pakistan’s first innings, the most in Test match cricket.

Although Pakistan batters scored heavily, their bowling was thin on experience and was exposed against a strong Indian batting line-up.

Younis Khan had turned down the captaincy on several occasions, but after defeat in the first Test, finally accepted the job.

Younis struggled in the early days but soon, he would make an impact turning around his country’s cricketing fortunes and Pakistan enjoyed a purple patch under him. Younis backed a lot of young talents and several of them went onto make an impact in Test match cricket.

The tour also included five ODIs – won by India.