Cricket Review 2013
New Zealand travelled to South Africa with the hope of winning a first ever Test series in that country and they had reasons to believe that they could achieve the landmark win given the resources they had at their disposal. However, South Africa were too strong for them winning both Tests by innings margins.

Cape Town is always a tricky toss to win. If you opt to bat first, you’ve got to negotiate the first half hour and then the pitch flattens out and the batters make merry. If you don’t overcome that tricky period, then you have hell to pay. As the Kiwis found out.

Vernon Philander swung the new ball to deadly effect as New Zealand were shot out for 45, the lowest total in Test match cricket in 39 years. Philander finished with five wickets while Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel shared five wickets between them. The New Zealand first innings lasted less than 20 overs.

By the time the Proteas came out to bat, there were value for the shots and they declared after taking a 302-run lead. New Zealand were down and out as they could post only 245 in their second innings.

The Test match saw Jacques Kallis scoring 13,000 Test runs, the fourth man to do so and Dale Steyn achieving the landmark of 300 Test wickets.
Sri Lanka went to Australia with the hope of winning their first Test match down under but were swept 3-0. The tourists did fancy their chances in the final Test in Sydney and a bit more discipline with the bat could have seen them through.

By day four, there was enough assistance for spin like it is always the case in Sydney but Sri Lanka simply didn’t have the runs on the board.

Rangana Herath with three wickets troubled Australia as they lost five wickets in pursuit of a target of 141 and something in the range of 250 would have made things interesting.

During the series, Kumar Sangakkara tied the record for the fastest batsman to 10,000 runs. He achieved the milestone in his 195th innings, same as fellow greats Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara.

Mike Hussey brought the curtains down on an illustrious career following the third Test. With Australia in a bit of bother, his calm influence was valuable as he posted an unbeaten 27 to guide the team through. Hussey had inherited the Australian team song from Justin Langer and at the end of this game, he handed it to Nathan Lyon. The off spinner has held onto the team song for more than a decade now.

It's a tradition in Australian cricket that at retirement or after becoming captain of the Australian team, the man who had inherited the team song names his successor.

Hussey played in an era when Australian cricket was blessed with some precious talents and it was virtually impossible to break into the side. Despite tons of runs in Sheffield Shield Cricket and County Cricket, he was made to wait. He was past his 30th birthday when he  made his Test debut and it took him just 166 days since debut to complete 1000 runs in Test cricket. He left with big shoes to fill in Australian cricket

Pakistan toured South Africa for a three Test series and Dale Steyn with his express pace tormented the opposition finishing with 20 wickets. Vernon Philander was the sort of ideal new ball partner bowling disciplined lines complementing Steyn’s extra pace and finished with 15 wickets as Pakistan batsmen found the fast and bouncy pitches tough to play on.

Such is South Africa’s fast bowling talents that it wasn’t just Steyn and Philander. They handed debut to Kyle Abbott at Centurion and he created havoc with a seven-wicket haul as Pakistan were shot out for 156 in the first innings.

Pakistan’s quicks were not fit to hold a candle to their South African counterparts. Their highest wicket taker in the series was off-spinner Saeed Ajmal, with 11 scalps to his name.

With two hundreds and a half-century A.B. de Villiers dominated the batting charts finishing with 352 runs at an average of 88.

Australia were blanked 4-0 by India in 2013 and this was their first loss by that margin since 1970. It was a strange series. For example, Australia had declared their first innings in the second Test and then went on to lose by an innings.

This was also the series where four players – Mitchell Johnson, Usman Khawaja, Shane Watson and James Pattinson were made ineligible for the third Test match on strange grounds.

The incident known as ‘homework gate’ found the players guilty for not submitting an assignment handed by Head Coach Mickey Arthur. While the players were suspended with the series in line, there was a public outcry back in Australia on how the whole episode had been handled.

South African born Arthur’s tenure didn’t last long and soon he was replaced as Australia’s Head Coach.

M.S. Dhoni created history in the first Test in Madras by breaking Sachin Tendulkar’s record for most runs in an innings by an Indian captain - 224.  It is also his career best in Test cricket.

Cheteshwar Pujara provided big runs in the second Test with a double hundred as India took an unassailable 2-0 lead in Hyderabad.

This Test saw the end of Virender Sehwag’s career. India had been playing Test cricket since 1932 and for 70 years they didn’t have a triple centurion in Test match cricket. It was changed by someone who was initially ticked as a player suited for one-day cricket. Virender Sehwag not only made India’s first triple hundred in 2004 but four years later scored another one when he completed a career best 319 against South Africa. He nearly made a third triple hundred but was dismissed for 293 against Sri Lanka. Of the top four highest scores for India in Tests, Sehwag has three of them.

The third Test in Mohali looked to be heading for a draw after entire first day was washed out by rain. But Australia after a good first innings effort collapsed in the second innings and India took a 3-0 lead in the series with just four overs remaining in the game.

Australia had lost their resolve by the time they reached Delhi for the final Test. To add insult to injury, the tourists were without their captain Michael Clarke. Shane Watson got a taste of Test captaincy but couldn’t prevent Australia from losing the game.

The year 2013 also saw The Ashes being advanced by a year. The reason being the authorities wanted The Ashes cycle to be separate from the World Cup cycle. After the disappointment of India, Australia continued to struggle losing The Ashes 3-0.

With Chester-Le-Street getting a Test match, Edgbaston, one of England’s oldest cricket venues missed out. It was the first time since 1977 that Edgbaston missed out in an Ashes contest.

Trent Bridge provided a classic Test match. In reply to England’s 215 all out, Australia were in trouble at 117 for nine. But a record 163 partnership for the last wicket between Ashton Agar and Philp Hughes  bailed them out as they went onto take a 65 run first innings lead. Agar’s 98 on debut was the highest score by a number 11 batter in Test cricket.

Set a target of 311, Australia fought back gallantly and once again the tail was wagging. James Pattinson and Peter Siddle added 65 runs for the last wicket but in the end Australia fell short by 14 runs.

At Lord’s, England went 2-0 up after dismissing Australia for 128 in their first innings. It was their lowest total at The Home of Cricket since 1968. England did not enforce the follow on and secured the game by a massive 347 runs.

In  a game marred by inclement weather, Australia were forcing things at Old Trafford to remain in the contest. But rain had the last laugh as the game ended in a draw which meant that England, being the holders, retained The Ashes.

England wrapped up the series 3-0 at Chester-Le-Street with a 74-run win. The final Test at The Oval ended in a high score draw.

This year also saw the Champions Trophy being staged. After South Africa hosted the event successfully in 2009, England won the hosting bid for the 2013 event.

The eight-nation tournament started as Australia as favourites but they crashed out without winning a single game. Pakistan too lost all three games.
India topped their group winning all three games while South Africa finished second. In the opposite group, England finished top with Sri Lanka coming as runners-up.

While India  overcame Sri Lanka in the first semi-final in Cardiff, England beat South Africa at Edgbaston.

The Oval hosted the final and in a game reduced to 20 overs due to rain, India won a tight game by five runs.

With two centuries to his name, Shikhar Dhawan topped the run charts with 363 runs at an average of 90. Ravindra Jadeja was the highest wicket taker with 12 wickets. While Dhawan was Player of the Series, Jadeja was Man of the Match. Apart from picking up two wickets in the final, he contributed with 33 runs not out in a total of 129 for seven.