The year 2018 has come to an end and there is a lot that has happened both on and off the field. The year had its fair share of surprises but there were some moments that created headlines. Here’s a look at three such moments.
The ball-tampering saga and the banned trio
By far, the biggest talking of the year 2018 was the sandpaper gate scandal that broke out in late March in Cape Town. Australian opener Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera trying to rub sandpaper on the side of the ball. He tried to hide the yellow object (that he used on the ball) in his trousers but he couldn’t get away.
Later that evening in the post-day press conference, the then Australian skipper Steve Smith accompanied Bancroft to reveal that the whole act was planned. In fact, he went onto to admit that Australia’s ‘leadership group’ knew about it. Australia did go on to lose the Test match but there were multiple implications.
Cricket Australia (CA) handed out suspensions to Steve Smith (captain), David Warner (vice-captain) and Cameron Bancroft (the man responsible for the act). While the former duo was banned for a year, Bancroft copped a 9-month suspension. Nine months have passed and the issue is one of the talking points of the town.
There were plenty of surprise retirements in 2018 with AB de Villiers and Alastair Cook topping the list. The former had just returned to Test cricket after close to two years when he played the 2017 Boxing Day against Zimbabwe. He played seven Test matches in 2018 and was by far, South Africa’s best batsman. However, he took everyone by surprise when he announced his retirement from international cricket in late May a few days after RCB’s IPL campaign ended.
After a tough year, Alastair Cook announced his retirement ahead of the fifth Test against India. However, he had a fairy-tale finish to his Test career as he scored 71 and 147 to bid adieu to international cricket in style.
AB de Villiers’ teammate Morne Morkel also decided to hang up his boots after the Test series against Australia. He picked up 15 wickets in his final series for South Africa.
Dwayne Bravo who hadn’t represented West Indies for over two years also called it quits from international cricket. There were other big retirements as well. The likes of Kevin Pietersen, Mitchell Johnson and Gautam Gambhir retired from all forms of cricket.
Ireland giants Niall O’Brien and Ed Joyce also bid adieu to the game while a few popular Indians like Praveen Kumar, RP Singh, S Badrinath and Munaf Patel who hadn’t represented the country in the last few years also called it a day.
Many cricketers retired from particular formats as well. Mohammad Hafeez called it a day from the longest format while his teammate Azhar Ali retired from ODI cricket. David Miller took a break from first-class cricket to concentrate on limited-overs cricket ahead of the all-important 2019 World Cup.
No. 11 And No. 12 make their Test debut
Ireland and Afghanistan were announced as the newest Test entrants in 2017 and the year 2018 saw them make their respective debuts. In the span of one month, we had Test teams No. 11 and 12. Ireland faced off Pakistan in a one-off Test match in May while Afghanistan came down to India for their debut.
Ireland gave Pakistan a tough fight. After a poor start, Ireland came back strongly in the second innings with the bat to set Pakistan a tricky fourth innings target. Then Pakistan were made to sweat in their chase of 160. On the other hand, Afghanistan didn’t prove to be a challenge as India bullied them inside two days.
But it was a moment of history for the two teams as they announced themselves in the longest format of the game.