Cricket Review 2015
A World Cup year in cricket send all the focus into it and the 2015 edition of the sport’s showpiece event co-hosted by New Zealand and Australia was quite spectacular. Eventually, the two hosts turned up for the final witnessed by over 100,000 people at the MCG and won by Australia.

This was the last World Cup that included more than ten teams. ICC’s decision to restrict the 2019 and 2023 events to ten teams didn’t go down too well. Not only did it affect some of the up-and-coming nations but knocked out West Indies from the 2023 event. Sanity has prevailed and 2027 event onwards we will have more teams.

One of the highlights of the tournament was that tickets for the epic India-Pakistan clash in Adelaide were sold out within 12 minutes of going out for sale.
The prize money of US$ 10 million was the highest ever and the champions were going to walk away with US$ four million.
England failed to make it to the quarter-finals as Bangladesh finished above them.

South Africa for the first time won a knockout game in a World Cup. They beat Sri Lanka in the quarter-final in Sydney with J.P. Duminy claiming a hat-trick.
Kumar Sangakkara finished off an excellent campaign having posted four hundred in a row. He was done with limited overs cricket with that. So was fellow Sri Lankan Mahela Jayawardene.

South Africa then stuttered in the semi-final losing a last over thriller to New Zealand. It was heart-breaking.

Australia knocked off India in the other semi-final. The final proved to be an anti-climax with Australia wrapping things up easily.

One of the highlights of the year was Australia regaining Border-Gavaskar Trophy. The first two Tests in Brisbane and Adelaide were closely fought and were won by Australia. The next two Tests at MCG and Sydney were drawn.

After drawing the Boxing Day Test match, M.S. Dhoni, India’s captain conceded that he is retiring from Test cricket meaning India had a new leader in Virat Kohli for the final Test in Sydney.

Australia too were captained by Steve Smith at times in the series with injury to captain Michael Clarke.

Kohli and Smith went on a battle of their own as the debate was on as to who was the best batter in the world. Both made four centuries each and while Smith finished on 769 runs Kohli finished second with 692. It was truly a series dominated by the two premier batters.

England’s tour of West Indies saw a hard-fought Test series with both teams winning a Test match each. England retained the Wisden Trophy since they were holders.

The first Test in Antigua saw James Anderson featuring in his 100th Test match and overtaking Sir Ian Botham’s  wickets tally of 383 to become the most successful bowler for England.

In the first Test, after being set a target of 438 to win, West Indies finished on 350 for seven before time ran out. England cruised to a nine-wicket win thank to Joe Root’s unbeaten 182 but West Indies hit back in Barbados with a hard fought five wicket win.

New Zealand were in England for a two Test series and this series proved why cricket is such a game of uncertainties.

New Zealand scored over 500 runs at Lord’s in their first innings but still went onto lose the game.

They bounced back in Headingley though with a comfortable 199 run win to square the series.

Pakistan toured Sri Lanka and the teams were involved in a hard-fought series that went to the wire. The final Test at Pallekele had everything to play for with the series levelled at 1-1.

Sri Lanka surprised a few people by dropping Rangana Herath for the game as they packed the side with more pace. A decision that hurt them as the tourists went onto chase down a target of 377 successfully.

Pakistan lost two wickets early with just 13 runs on the board and the crisis man Younis Khan walked in and rescued the side with a marathon seven-hour knock. He made an unbeaten 171 to turn the game on its head.

Leg-spinner Yasir Shah proved to be a thorn in the Sri Lankan flesh finishing with 24 wickets. Only Shane Warne with 26 scalps had taken more wickets in Sri Lanka in a series.

This 2015 was a special year for England as they regained The Ashes. It was a hard-fought series and The Ashes were in England’s hands after they secured an unassailable 3-1 lead at Trent Bridge with an innings win.

There were runs and wickets for Joe Root in the opening Test match that England won in Cardiff, but Australia bounced back at Lord’s thanks to a double hundred by Steve Smith.

Edgbaston was swinging and seaming and Australia weren’t up to it. James Anderson destroyed them in the first innings with a six-wicket haul as they were bowled out for 136 inside 37 overs. Spin or a fourth bowler weren’t even required as wickets were falling fast.

Steven Finn took over from Anderson in the second innings and finished with seven wickets to bury Australia as England took a 2-1 lead.

England weren’t quite done yet. They would bring more woes to Australia in the fourth Test at Trent Bridge.

Stuart Broad took eight for 15 as Australia were shot out for 60 in 18.3 overs. It’s the best figures ever recorded in an Ashes contest.

It was also the first time in the history of the game extras top scored with 14 runs. Although Australia fared much better in the second essay, Ben Stokes took six wickets and The Ashes was secured.

Australia went onto salvage some pride by winning the final Ashes Test at The Oval but that was of little consolation as poor batting had cost them dearly during the series.

India were in Sri Lanka in 2015 and Kumar Sangakkara was retiring from Test cricket. In the first Test, after conceding 192 runs in the first innings, Sri Lanka bounced back to win the first Test in Galle.

At 95 for five in the second innings, Sri Lanka were heading for an innings loss, but Dinesh Chandimal played a blinder scoring an unbeaten 162.

Sri Lanka were only able to set a target of 176 but that was more than enough for Rangana Herath, who ran through the opposition with seven wickets.
But India had the last laugh with Ravichandran Ashwin claiming 21 wickets securing the series, a come from behind 2-1 series win.

Excited by the Ashes win, England traveled to UAE in a bid to overcome an unsettled Pakistan
side. It was quite a challenge because the heat and humidity in UAE proves makes it tedious work.

Alastair Cook had posted 263 to help England to 589 for nine declared and a result was not on the cards as England were still batting in their first innings on day five.

But then Pakistan were shot out for 173 in their second innings leaving England with a target of 99 and they went about things helter-skelter.

Captain Cook wasn’t going to open batting. Josh Buttler was pushed up instead and Cook never got a chance to bat during the run chase. In the end, England finished on 74 for four when bad light intervened.

England failed to compete in Dubai and Sharjah and lost the series 2-0 despite Cook scoring 450 runs in the series.

South Africa toured India for four Tests and were routed 3-0 with Ashwin causing them plenty of trouble finishing with 31 wickets.

In a series played on tracks heavily favouring spin bowlers, South Africa managed to score over 200 only once across eight innings. That sums up how much India dominated the series. It didn’t help that Hashim Amla lost the toss in all games.

If not for rain in Bangalore that washed out the second Test match, this could have been a 4-0 rout for South Africa. Quite surprising indeed because South Africa is a team that has adapted well to challenges in India.

In ODI cricket, despite England’s disappointing World Cup where they failed to make it to the quarter-finals, they were moving about purposely in a bid to turn things around in white ball cricket.

Under new captain Eoin Morgan they were backing the right players suited for limited overs cricket and series wins over New Zealand and Pakistan in 2016 was indication that they were on right track. They were a far cry yet from Australia though who lost only three of the 19 ODIs they played that year.

Steve Smith finished the year with 1474 runs in Test match cricket and was named ICC Cricketer of the Year

Ravichandran Ashwin had a stellar year with the ball where he had accounted for 62 wickets, and he had starred in several Test series wins for India.
In his first year in Test cricket, Josh Hazlewood proved that he’s got a long career ahead of him finishing with 51 wickets, third highest in the world behind Ashwin and Stuart Broad.