Cricket Review 2020
Since the end of World War, cricket found itself in troubled waters with some series cancelled and some postponed for the following year due to the COVID pandemic. The biggest of them all was the T-20 World Cup, which was pushed back by a year due to logistical nightmares.  

County Cricket in England and Ranji Trophy in India were also postponed while the IPL was pushed back by several months and shifted away from India. England were supposed to start a new era in cricketwith the launch of The Hundred but the event was pushed back to the following year due to the pandemic.

The deadly pandemic killed over seven million people across the world and the sport’s administrators had to look at novel ways to keep the game going although for several months there was no cricket at all as nobody could make out how to move forward.

England was the first country to resume international cricket when they hosted West Indies at Rose Bowl. The series happened behind closed doors amidst various challenges but was a success and soon other boards took a leaf out of ECB’s book hosting cricket in bio-secure bubbles.

What the pandemic meant was that although international cricket and competitive cricket resumed after a few months, the sprot suffered at grassroot levels as everybody could not afford bio secure bubbles.  

Generally, in a year there are 20 Test series played but in 2020 it was reduced to just 12 series and the World Test Championship faced challenges but continued uninterrupted with several series pushed back to the following year.

Cricket amidst COVID meant there were lot of changes. Players for ages had applied saliva on the cricket ball to shine it but the practice was banned as a safety measure.

Neutral umpires had come to stay in cricket for almost three decades but severe travel restrictions meant that the game’s custodians had to look at other means and home match officials were used in 2020.

COVID replacements were also allowed in cricket. If a player had shown symptoms of COVID, then the team could appeal to the Match Referee and a like to like replacement was granted as in the case of concussion substitute.

Several players tested positive for the virus while engaging in the game and had to be quarantined although these restrictions were later lifted for players who had been vaccinated.  

It was a landmark year for Indian cricket as they recorded a come from behind victory to clinch the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.  

The series had many highlights and the manner in which India achieved success stunned the cricketing world. It will be remembered as one of India’s best series wins overseas.

When India were shot out for 36 runs, their lowest in Test cricket, in the day-night Test match in Adeliade, a tough ordeal was expected for the tourists in the remainder of the series.  

Captain Virat Kohli’s unavailability for the rest of the series and several injuries virtually forced India to field what would have been their third string side. But the fact that this depleted team went onto complete a 2-1 series win showcased how far India has progressed in the sport and how well young Indian players are geared to face the challenges of international cricket given their exposure in the IPL.

India won the Boxing Day Test after losing in Adelaide to square the series 1-1. With the third Test in Sydney drawn, all eyes were on Brisbane for the deciding final Test. Brisbane is a venue where Australia always dominate. They had not lost a Test match there in 30 years with West Indies being the last team to win a Test. Since then, there had been 31 Tests in Brisbane with Australia winning 24 and only seven draws. The task at India’s hands were huge.

They fought really well taking the game to the final day and when you stretch Australia that much on their stronghold the chances are that you can create an upset. Set a target of 328, India pulled off a three wicket win to end the Australian dominance in Brisbane.  

Given the scarcity of games, 2020 saw not a single player able to cross the 1000 figure mark in either Test or ODI cricket. Ben Stokes with 641 runs in seven Tests finished the highest run scorer of the year while Aaron Fich finished with 673 runs in 13 ODIs.

Stuart Broad’s 38 wickets were the most in Tests in 2020 while Adam Zampa with 27 wickets was the top wicket taker in ODIs.

The biggest event in the women’s cricket calendar was the T-20 World Cup in Australia which the hosts won for the fifth time. It was the seventh edition of the tournament and showcased Australia’s dominance in the sport as they beat India in the final at MCG. The tournament became the most watched women’s sporting event ever and it was further assurance that the women’s game needed to be invested on heavily.  

The women’s game is also reaching out far off places as was evident by Thailand’s qualification for the World Cup and they put up a good show.  
There were three new inductees into the Cricket’s Hall of Fame in 2020 with former Pakistan legend Zaheer Abbas, South African great Jacques Kallis and Australia women’s skipper Lisa Sthaleker getting there.

The ICC ushered in a new era with New Zealander Greg Barclay taking over as new Chairman succeeding Shashank Manohar of India. Like Manohar, Barclay also had been a lawyer and was a key figure in successfully hosting the 2015 Cricket World Cup.  

There were several high profile retirements in cricket in 2020 with M.S. Dhoni being the most notable one. Dhoni took Indian cricket to unprecedented success winning the 20 over and 50 over World Cups and under his charge India became the number one ranked team in the world in Tests. Dhoni continued to play IPL.  
Ian Bell and Shane Watson were the other notable retirements in 2020 as they quit the sport from all forms of cricket.  

The deaths of leading cricketers like John Edrich, John Reid, Chetan Chauhan and Sir Everton Weeks was mourned by the cricketing world but the one that shocked most was the death of former Australian cricketer Dean Jones.

Jones famous for his innovating batting in limited overs cricket and for the double hundred in Madras in the tied Test was 59 when he died of cardiac arrest in Bombay during a commentary stint.