Cricket Review 2014
The year 2014 wasn’t the start English cricket wanted. They were routed 5-0 by Australia, who regained the Ashes and played some spectacular cricket. Problems were plenty for England. Not only did they surrender the little urn without much of a fight but the whole tour was doomed with many a setback.

One of England’s premier batters Jonathan Trott pulled out of the contest midway through the tour due to health reasons while the team’s premier spinner Graeme Swann retired  halfway through the series. Kevin Pietersen went on to complete 100 Tests but no longer was considered by England after the completion of the tour. Pity he didn’t play for England beyond his 33rd birthday.

Australia’s superiority was exhibited by the fact that they named an unchanged side for all five Test matches. It was also witness for the extremely high standards of fitness the Aussies had maintained.

Mitchell Johnson was unplayable at times and finished the series with 37 wickets with an average of just 13 and he was appropriately named Player of the Series.

The margins that Australia won were huge too and England failed to even compete. There was some luck for captain Michael Clarke as he won four tosses in a row. His opposite number Alastair Cook won the toss only in the last Test. Coincidentally, both captains played their 100th Test match in the same game.
The top six run scorers in the series were Australians

In most Tests, Australia’s tail hurt England. Brad Haddin, their wicketkeeper was a thorn in the English flesh stitching some valuable partnerships with the tail. Haddin finished the series with 493 runs, second most in the series. Such was his consistency he produced a hundred and five half-centuries.
Johnson was well supported by the lionhearted Ryan Harris with the new ball. He claimed 22 wickets. It is only the third time in the history of The Ashes, Australia had completed a 5-0 rout.

Sri Lanka had a fabulous year as well in 2014. They won the Asia Cup, T-20 World Cup and more importantly a first ever Test series win in England.

They had been very consistent in ICC events and between 2007 and 2012 had reached four World Cup finals – two in the 50 over format and two in the 20 over format. But on every occasion they failed to provide the killer blow losing the final. However, 2014 T-20 World Cup was different. They defeated India to clinch the title with their seamers unravelling a new feature in the bowling armoury - wide yorker.

The Test series in England was evenly contested. Sri Lanka were nine wickets down in the last over at Lord’s and England looked to have wrapped up the game when last man Nuwan Pradeep was given out leg before wicket. But the batsman reviewed and there was an inside edge and umpire Paul Reiffel had to reverse his decision. England’s joy turned into sorrow as Sri Lanka held on for a draw by the skin of their teeth. Just goes on to show the importance of reviews in the modern day game.

Next Test in Headingley proved to be another cracking game. This time England were fighting tooth and nail to save the Test. There was a fine rearguard action by James Anderson and Moeen Ali but in the penultimate ball of the game, Anderson fell as Sri Lanka recoded a come from behind win. It was their first ever Test series win in England.

It was a remarkable year for star batsman Kumar Sangakkara as well. There was a first ever hundred at Lord’s for the future MCC President in what was his last appearance at Home of Cricket.

Prior to that he had scored a triple hundred and a hundred in the same game against Bangladesh. He finished the year as the highest run getter in the world in both Test match cricket and ODI cricket with 1438 runs coming in Tests at an average of 71 and 1246 runs in ODIs at 46:51. Altogether there were eight international hundreds for him in the year. He held on to the position of world’s number one ranked batter for a record number of weeks.

While Sri Lanka were making steady progress it was  a tough year for India as they lost six of the ten Tests they played winning only one. This included series losses to Australia, England and New Zealand.

Australia toured UAE for a two match Test series against Pakistan and were comprehensively beaten in both games suffering 221 and 356 run defeats.
It was a trial by spin for the Aussies and the extreme heat in Dubai and Abu Dhabi proved to be their undoing.

Younis Khan created history scoring twin hundreds in the opening game and went on to become the most century maker for Pakistan in Test match cricket going past Inzamam-ul-Haq’s tally of 25 hundreds. In the process, he completed 8000 Test runs.

If the first Test belonged to Younis, another veteran Misbah-ul-Haq dominated the second Test.
Misbah broke the all time Test record for the fastest half-century getting to the milestone in 21 balls and equalled the record for the fastest century getting there in just 56 balls.

Not only Australia’s batters but even bowlers had little idea how to contain Pakistan’s free spirited display.

Pakistan looked set to hand the same outcome to New Zealand when they travelled to UAE by handing them a 248 run defeat in the first Test with Younis and Misbah continuing to be a thorn in the opposition’s flesh making big runs.

However, New Zealand fought back. After drawing the second Test, they went on to win the final Test by an innings and 40 runs.

New Zealand posted a massive 690 in their first innings, their highest score in Test match cricket at that point.
Brendon McCullum threw caution to the wind smashing a double hundred in 188 balls.

Little known off-spinner Mark Craig with a match bag of ten wickets helped New Zealand wrap up the game with a day to spare.

In the third Test, Daniel Vettori earned his 112th Test cap becoming the most capped Test cricketer for New Zealand breaking Stephen Fleming’s record.
The second day’s play of the second Test match was suspended in remembrance of Australian cricketer Phil Hughes, who had died in Sydney. The game was extended by one day but wasn’t required as New Zealand wrapped up the game inside four days.

India had suffered a 4-0 ODI series loss in New Zealand forcing the selectors to revamp the side. They bounced back later in the year winning in England 3-1 and whitewashing Sri Lanka 5-0 at home.

Australia too were quite dominant in ODI cricket winning 13 of their 18 games. That included a 4-1 win over South Africa.

The cricket world was shocked following the death of Philp Hughes at the age of 25. Hughes, a regular for the Australian Test side, was playing a Sheffield Shield Game for New South Wales when he was struck below his helmet attempting a hook shot.

The batsman underwent surgeries but did not regain consciousness. His funeral was attended by cricketers from all around the world. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was among the individuals who attended the funeral.

Following the death of Hughes, the game of cricket underwent significant changes. Safety of players became a talking point across the world and equipment  with advanced protection was introduced. The authorities also introduced concussion substitute and concussion tests after a player being dealt with a blow.

The year 2014 also marked some high profile retirements. Jacques Kallis brought an end to his glittering career after a marathon 166 Test matches, most by a South African. In a career spanning 19 years he retired as his nation’s leading run scorer with 13,289 Test runs to his name. There were also 292 Test wickets to go by. No other South Africa has scored 10,000 runs in Test match cricket and only five South Africans have taken more wickets than him in Tests.

It was also a year that saw several respected cricket captains retire from the game. Darren Sammy, who had won two T-20 World Cups retired from the game along with Graeme Smith and Mahela Jayawardene, two other successful captains in cricket.

England won the Women’s Ashes in 2014. In a multi-format series. England recorded ten points compared to Australia’s eight. While England won the one off Test, Australia won the ODI and T-20 series, but that wasn’t enough to win the overall trophy.

The highlight of the year for women’s cricket was the T-20 World Cup held in Bangladesh. It was the fourth T-20 World Cup for women and Australia won a third successive title.