Cricket Review 2016
The showpiece cricket event in 2016 was the T-20 World Cup that was held in India. Hosted across seven major cities with the participation of 16 teams, India put out a show with Calcutta’s iconic Eden Gardens hosting a splendid final.

Hosts India had lot of momentum behind them leading up to the semi-final and were meeting West Indies, who had been blowing hot and cold having lost a group game to Afghanistan.

Losing to Afghanistan should be no more a surprise for the young cricket nation has several match winners in their rank.

England were through to the final having beaten New Zealand in the first semi-final in Delhi and in Bombay, hosts India were stunned as West Indies chased down a target of 193 with two balls and seven wickets to spare.

England dominated the final and with 19 runs needed off the final over, they thought they had the game in bag.  

Marlon Samuels had posted an unbeaten 85 in the final, but it was Carlos Brathwaite who stole the show making us remember his name smashing four sixes in the first four balls of the final over bowled by Ben Stokes.

It was a remarkable final and West Indies became the only team to win the T-20 World Cup twice.

The year 2016 was also significant as the BCCI that had strongly opposed the DRS system agreed to make use of it. The BCCI said that they were satisfied that the technology had improved drastically and DRS now became mandatory for all international games.

One of the most anticipated series of the year was England’s tour of South Africa. Injury to Dale Steyn saw South Africa being not at full strength.

Hasim Amla resigned as captain after the second Test in Cape Town and was replaced by A.B. de

Durban spun and turned and Moeen Ali with seven wickets was England’s hero.  

Cape Town produced a high scoring draw and Ben Stokes’ career best score of 258. The England star had a good chance to complete a triple hundred but was run out.

The 399-run partnership between Stokes and Jonny Bairstow is the second highest partnership for England for any wicket and the highest partnership for the sixth wicket improving on the 282-run stand between Graham Thorpe and Andrew Flintoff against New Zealand in Christchurch in 2002.

Bairstow’s contribution was an unbeaten 150 as England declared on 629 for six.  

South Africa responded by hammering 627 for seven declared with Amla making a double hundred and the game headed for a draw.

England wrapped up the series in at the Wanderers with a seven wicket win as Stuart Broad triggered a famous collapse claiming six wickets as South Africa were bowled out for 83.

South Africa won the dead rubber in Centurion with Kagiso Rabada claiming 13 for 144, his career best figures.

Australia’s tour to New Zealand was cut down from three Tests to two to accommodate more white ball games. New Zealand were thoroughly outplayed in both Tests as captain Brendon McCullum ended his international career. He was New Zealand’s most successful captain since Stephen Fleming winning 11 of his 31 Tests.

Despite the loss, McCullum went out with a bang smashing a hundred off just 54 balls, the fastest hundred ever in Test match cricket. He broke Sir Viv Richards’ record that had stood for 30 years. Richards had hit a hundred off 56 balls against England in Antigua in 1985.

Sri Lanka went to England with lot of hope having won their first Test series in England on the previous tour. But they were without the experienced Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene and were in trouble soon.

It didn’t help fast bowlers Dhammika Prasad and Dushmantha Chameera had to return home with injuries and Shaminda Eranga was reported for a suspect action and was banned from bowling.

England won the three-match series 2-0 with the Lord’s Test being drawn.

Pakistan who toured England after Sri Lanka proved to be tougher opponents with the four-match series levelled at 2-2.

Pakistan won their first Test at Lord’s in 20 years and their fourth overall at the Home of
Cricket becoming the most successful Asian nation at the sport’s iconic ground.

Mishbah-ul-Haq became the oldest captain to score a hundred, but Pakistan’s hero was leg-spinner Yasir Shah, who become the first Asian to take a match bag of ten wickets at Lord’s.

England squared the series with a big win at Old Trafford thanks to Joe Root, who posted a career best 254. They were then 2-1 up in the series winning at Birmingham as Pakistan squandered an opportunity despite having a first innings lead of over 100 runs.

At The Oval, with the wicket flat, Pakistan made merry posting 542 as Younis Khan made a double hundred.

Then it was a spin by trial in England’s second innings with Yasir taking a five-wicket haul and Pakistan completed a ten wicket win with a day to spare.

Australia were overwhelming favourites to win in Sri Lanka in a three-match series. They were
ranked number one team in the world and history was against Sri Lanka as they had won just one Test match against Australia ever.

But the 2016 series proved to be an anticlimax. Australia lost their number one rank in Tests as they were whitewashed 3-0. Sri Lanka went onto win the Warne-Murali Trophy for the first time.

At the start, there was hardly an indication of what to follow after Sri Lanka were bowled out for 117 in the first innings in the opening Test.

Sri Lanka handed a Test debut to Dhananjaya de Silva and he became the first Sri Lankan to get off the mark in Test cricket with a six.

But the hero for Sri Lanka was Kusal Mendis. Playing just his seventh Test match, Mendis smashed a stunning 176 putting Australia’s formidable bowling attack to the sword. Chasing 268 to win Australia were shot out for 203 runs.

The second Test in Galle was a low scoring thriller as Rangana Herath claimed a hat-trick.

Australia were determined not to let the whitewash happen and when Sri Lanka were reduced to 26 for five by Mitchell Starc on the first day morning, the writing was on the wall.

But hundreds by Dinesh Chandimal and Dhananjaya de Silva took them out of the woods and they went onto complete the 3-0 cleansweep. It was brilliant work by the combination of Graham Ford and Angelo Mathews but less than one year later, both the Head Coach and Captain were gone.

England toured Bangladesh amidst some security concerns and managed to win the first Test by a margin of 22 runs. But Bangladesh would create history with their first Test win over England in the second Test when they completed a 108-run rout in Dhaka.

The first Test was Alastair Cook’s 134th and he became the most capped English cricketer overtaking Alec Stewart. In the same match, Shakib-al-Hasan became the first Bangladeshi to take 150 Test wickets.

Mehidy Hasan was Bangladesh’s star claiming 12 wickets for 159 runs in their first ever win over England.

England’s troubles in Asia compounded later that year when they lost a five-match series 4-0. While England had their chances to win the first Test in Rajkot from thereon it was all downhill as they lost the last two Tests by an innings.

This was the first time India hosted a five Test series since 1986. Alastair Cook became the youngest player to score 11,000 runs but that wasn’t sufficient to save his team from embarrassment.

India’s 759 for seven in the final Test in Madras was their highest total in Test cricket. India also completed 18 Test matches without a defeat, their longest streak ever.

South Africa won a Test series in Australia 2-1 that year, but gloss was taken out of their win after Francois du Plessis was fined for ball tampering.

In the absence of Dale Steyn due to injury, Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander and Kyle Abbott teamed up and did well to script a famous win. South Africa took an unassailable 2-0 lead and lost the third Test in Adelaide.

Along with Brendon McCullum, the other high-profile retirements in 2016 included T.M. Dilshan, Shane Watson and James Taylor. The retirement of Taylor sent shockwaves in the sport as he had to end his career prematurely after being diagnosed with serious heart condition.

Ravichandran Ashwin of India was recognized by the ICC as Cricketer of the Year while New Zealand’s Suzie Bates won the Women’s Cricketer of the Year award.