Cricket Review 2022
As COVID had created havoc all around the world brining life to a standstill cricket wasn’t spared and 2022 was the first year since the pandemic the sport returned to normalcy. Spectators were allowed to come back to grounds in full capacity and bio security bubbles were on their way out. There were still restrictions as you had to carry a vaccine certificate and a negative Covid test, but these restrictions were gradually eased out as medicine overcame the deadly pandemic.  

The ICC feeling the need to keep the game afloat had allocated a fund of US$ 5 million from which nations could borrow money to host cricket games following all COVID related guidelines. It proved to be a godsend to smaller cricketing nations that were struggling to make ends meet.  

Itineraries were still shifted. The Ashes for example, although it ends usually in the first week of January in Sydney, this time around it got extended to the third week of February. Hobart, a cricketing outpost had got a chance to host a first ever Ashes Test as Perth, in the other extreme of Australia remained out of bounds for rest of Australia with borders closed.

The result wasn’t something England would remember thought as they had been completely outplayed to surrender the urn with a 4-0 loss. It nearly was a whitewash, but England escaped with a draw in Sydney in the fourth Test after being nine down. Stuart Broad played down a maiden in the penultimate over of the game bowled by Nathan Lyon while James Anderson defended six nervous balls from Steve Smith to ensure a draw.  

There was a complete overhaul of English cricket after this shocking defeat with the coaching staff gone and captain Joe Root didn’t survive long either.
The changes after Ashes brought a breath of fresh air to English cricket as they played an aggressive brand of cricket known as Bazball. After the Ashes surrender, England played four series in 2022 and won three of them and drew a five-match series against India.

After the euphoria of 2021 where a depleted Indian side recorded a rare series win in Australia, hopes were high when a full-strength Indian side toured South Africa. India had never won a Test series in South Africa and 2022 was supposed to be their best shot given their formidable pace attack.  

Virat Kohli’s side started off well winning the Boxing Day Test at Centurion, but South Africa bounced back winning the next two games in Johannesburg and Cape Town with little known Keegan Petersen starring for the hosts. Injury sadly has restricted the top order batsman’s career from flourishing.  

It was certainly an opportunity missed for India. It was sad ending for Virat Kohli who stepped down as captain immediately after the series defeat. Kohli had become India’s most successful Test captain having won 40 of the 68 Tests he had skippered. But this wasn’t the swansong he had wanted.  

But despite not being able to win a series in South Africa, Kohli is credited for changing the culture of Indian cricket placing a high premium on personal fitness and introducing minimum fitness standards for the team. Anybody who didn’t meet these criteria would become ineligible for selection. It certainly changed the face of Indian cricket.  

India’s success in Test match cricket is owing to a variety of factors. They had a consistent batter in Kohli, their spinners would always win them matches but now they had a pace bowling unit that made early inroads as well. However, the x factor in the Indian side was their wicketkeeper Rishab Pant.  

Although not in the same class as Farokh Engineer or Syed Kirmani    when it comes sharpness behind the wicket, what made Pant an indispensable member of the Indian team was the rate at which he was scoring his runs. You simply couldn’t set field for him, and bowlers were at his mercy as Sri Lanka found out during their tour of India losing both Tests inside three days. Pant was player of the Series.  

India obviously were banking on him for more success, but life for Pant took an unexpected turn later that year as he met with an accident that saw him being hospitalized for more than a month and on crutches for several more weeks. He has not touched a cricket bat since then.  

Across the Punjab border, there was a lot happening in Pakistan. International cricket returned to the country in full swing as Australia returned there after a hiatus of 24 years.  

Australia were the  first team to refuse to tour Pakistan on security grounds and their return marked a new era. As for the cricket, it was a hard-fought series. The first two Tests were drawn, and the final game went to the wire before the Aussies pulled off a sensational win in the last session of the series.  

There was an excellent initiative by the two boards to announce the teams will be competing for the Benaud – Qadir Trophy.
While Richie Benaud was a pioneer leg-spinner, admired captain of Australia and the voice of cricket for decades, Qadir mesmerized batters with his magic in a period when leg-spin was on the wane. His four sons are First Class cricketers in Pakistan.  

Elsewhere, England and West Indies came up with another initiative. The age-old Wisden Trophy was retired, and the boards announced that the 2022 series onwards these teams will be competing for the Richards-Botham Trophy.

Two of the all-time greats of the sport, their friendship is legendary and their time with Somerset in the County Cricket circuit brought Taunton unprecedented success.  

If Australia’s return was a huge moment for Pakistan, the icing on the cake was England travelling to the country later that year.  

The tourists completely outplayed Pakistan nailing a 3-0 whitewash with their attacking brand of cricket.

Elsewhere, Sri Lanka hosted Australia at the height of political upheaval. There were massive protest all across the island demanding the government to step down due to the economic crisis. There was a severe fuel shortage and power outrages, but cricket went uninterrupted. For the final game in Colombo some 35,000 fans turned up dressed in yellow to say thanks to the Aussies. It was a surreal feeling.  

The Decision Review System also was under spotlight during the Test series. Dinesh Chandimal was caught behind on 30 but was given not out. Australia didn’t have any reviews and making most of the reprieve Chandimal went onto score a double hundred and help Sri Lanka square the two-match series.  

Pakistan captain Babar Azam topped the batting charts finishing with the most runs in the calendar year. He amassed 1184 runs in nine Tests at 69 with four hundreds and seven half-centuries. Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Usman Khwaja were the other batters to complete 1000 runs in the year but all of them had played in more games than Babar.  

Kagiso Rabada and Nathan Lyon ended up as highest wicket takers in 2022 with 47 wickets apiece. But the South African’s numbers were far better than that of the Australian off-spinner.   

The biggest white ball event of the year was the T-20 World Cup down under and Australia put out a grand show during the monthlong competition.  

For the first time the cricketing world was able to witness the Perth Stadium, an architectural marvel. There is lot of nostalgia about the WACA in Perth, but the new ground, just a stone’s throw from the old venue captivated fans with its state-of-the-art facilities and spectator comforts.  

Two times champion West Indies had a first round exit after humiliating defeats at the hands of Ireland and Scotland. Sri Lanka suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Namibia but managed to pull through to the second round.  

The epic India – Pakistan clash attracted over 100,000 fans at MCG and India won a last ball thriller but were knocked out in the semis.  

Pakistan went onto reach the final where they lost to England in another last over thriller in front of a capacity crowd.  

The biggest event in the women’s cricket calendar of the year was the 12th edition of the women’s World Cup. Originally scheduled to be held in 2021, the event was postponed to 2022 due to COVID.  

Although, initially supposed to be a 12-team event, it was cut down to eight teams as the Qualifying round games couldn’t be completed due to COVID. Eventually, the top eight ranked teams progressed to New Zealand for the tournament.  

Australia were unbeaten in the competition. They won their seven league games before overcoming West Indies in the semis and England in the final.  
Several of cricket’s laws were changed as well in 2022. When a batsman is out caught, the new batter will take position at striker’s end irrespective of the fact whether the batters had crossed or not.  

The time a batter needed to be ready to take strike of the first ball from the time the previous batter had been dismissed was changed to two minutes from three minutes.  

The most significant change of them all was Laws being passed making Mankading (running out the batsman for backing up too far) legal. Previously running out the non-striker belonged to the ‘Unfair Play’ section but with it being moved to ‘Run out’ section bowlers were given the clearance to effect a dismissal if a non-striker had taken undue advantage.  

The year also saw several high-profile deaths in the game.  

Spin great Shane Warne passed away in Thailand while holidaying with friends after a severe cardiac arrest. His death sent shockwaves in the cricketing world as he was just 52.  

On the same day, Australia had lost another cricketing icon of the nation. Wicketkeeper Rod Marsh passed away aged 74 in a hospital while receiving treatment for heart related illness.  

Two months after the deaths of the two legends of Australian cricket, Andrew Symonds was killed in a car crash in his native Queensland. He was only 46.  
David Murray died at the age of 72 in Barbados due to drug abuse. The West Indian wicketkeeper was the natural successor to his namesake Derrick Murray, but his career was limited to just 19 Test matches after the took part in the rebel tour to South Africa in 1983. He was branded a rebel and the nation never forgave him.