10 images that defined cricket in 2018


2018 saw an even contest between the bat and the ball

The year 2019 is just a few hours away and looking back into the year that was, we cannot be grateful enough for all the action that we witnessed down the most important 22 yards of land that we all love.

Moments of jubilation, distress, tension, anger, sadness, sympathy, and all other plausible forms of human emotions were covered across the cricket pitches across the world, and as sportsmen, writers, reporters, readers, avid followers and devotees of the game itself, we did enjoy the sport to the fullest.

So here's a dive back into the year as we take a look at 2018 through images that defined cricket action through the entire course of 365 days:

#1 The year that belonged to Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli was at the peak of his powers to take batsmanship to another level in 2018

If we were supposed to point out a single person to whom the cricket world of 2018 belonged to, it should be Virat Kohli.

The Indian skipper, who is also one of the world's best in his primary trade of batting, had a marauding run across series, games, tournaments, oppositions, and formats. So much that a whole five-slide article or more would be needed to cover the person alone.

To mention a few memorable occasions, Kohli first scored 550+ runs in an ODI series in South Africa and led India to their first ever 50-over series win there. Later he repeated the show in England, although the format was Tests this time, again scoring about 500 runs from 5 games.

Though England won the series, it doesn't take away anything from Kohli, who shone as a lone star in more occasions than not.

In late October, Kohli became the fastest to 10000 runs in ODIs as well, when he made three hundred in a single series against the Windies to also cross 1000 ODI runs in 2018. By year-end, Kohli is at the topmost position in run-charts in Tests, ODIs and across all formats combined.

He also has the most hundreds in Tests, ODIs and all formats combined, in 2018.

#2 The shocking ball-tampering fiasco

Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft confront against the media as they accept their roles in Ball-tampering fiasco

Australia were having a good run in early 2018, defeating England in the Ashes and so on, before they toured South Africa in March. They even won the Test in Durban, but the series will forever be remembered for an entirely different reason.

In Cape Town, TV cameras picked up Cameron Bancroft rubbing the ball using sandpaper, and in the next couple of days himself, along with team leads Steven Smith the captain, David Warner the deputy, and Darren Lehmann the coach were held accountable for tampering with the ball.

The players were handed bans that would last a whole year, and Lehmann had to resign.

The scam had severe repercussions, Australia not having won a single series afterwards in the absence of their biggest stars, and the issue also cast a deep shadow into the careers of Smith and Warner. They will return to competitive international cricket only next April.

#3 The Nidahas Trophy climax

Dinesh Karthik's 29 off 8 gave India one of their best T20I wins in 2018

In what was deemed a non-consequential series tour to Sri Lanka, India played the hosts and Bangladesh in aT20I tri-series in March. The eventual finalists were India and Bangladesh, and the match went down to the wire after a series of disappointing returns by India's top-order.

India needed 34 off the last 12 balls, and Rubel Hossain the Bangla star pacer was blown away by Karthik for 22 runs in 6 balls to bring down the deficit to 12.

Soumya Sarkar bowled the final over well and gave away just 7 from the first five balls. With 5 more to win with only one ball, Karthik played the shot of his life as he latched on to a wide-length ball and sent it packing over the extra-cover ropes to land India the game, and the trophy.

It was easily the most nerve-racking game that the side had played in such a long time, and Karthik became India's overnight hero. He returned man-of-the-final for his 8-ball-29 not out.

#4 The return and triumph of Chennai Super Kings

Chennai Super Kings' return to IPL was one of the better stories of 2018

The Chennai Super Kings made an emotional return to the 2018 IPL after having stayed out of the fray for two years, owing to a ban for match-fixing and related allegations in the 2015 IPL.

With MS Dhoni and co. turning up for the beloved Yellow side, sparks were certain to light up, as proved in the very first game when they won against arch-nemesis Mumbai by 1 wicket, that too in the final ball.

Over the course of the tournament, Chennai leapfrogged over countless rants and criticisms against them, including the infamous call of "Old Men Squad" brandished on them by Twitterati.

The CSK side's average age was well in the 30s, and that was the reason for the new nickname. Dhoni and co. however, proved their doubters wrong big time, also reminding them that with age came to experience, as he led the experienced side to their third title and the first title since 2011.

#5 Ireland and Afghanistan play their debut Test

Afghanistan made their Test debut against India in June 2018

In 2018, two more countries obtained the elite honour of playing the sport across five days, with the red ball and in white flannels at an international stage, as Zimbabwe was dropped from Test status owing to their poor form and internal board issues.

Ireland and Afghanistan have been around for quite a while in the limited over circuits, and the International Cricket Council had decided earlier in 2017 that they ought to be given a chance to honour the Test format as well. The plans finally bore fruition, in mid-2018.

Both the Indian and Pakistani Cricket Boards can be proud of the fact that they played crucial roles in fulfilling the big dream for either country, with Pakistan deciding to hold a one-off Test match against Ireland at Dublin in May 2018, with India following suit by hosting Afghanistan at Bangalore less than a month later.

While both Ireland and Afghanistan failed to win their opening Tests, they can be assured of more opportunities coming their way in the future. 

#6 Glorious wins across other competitions: Australia women win ICC World T20I 2018, India win ICC U-19 World Cup 2018

Southern Stars were crowned winners of ICC Women's World T20 2018

With talks of male-female equality becoming more prominent across all walks of life across the world and for good reason, it is high time we acknowledged the same in cricket as well.

2018 saw some good cricketing action in the women's arena as well, Bangladesh thumping India to an Asia Cup win and Australia winning against England in the World T20I finals, among others.

The Aussie girls, in particular, had a brilliant run in the tournament, losing only once - to India - in the group stages. They had entered the contests as favourites and made sure the tag stayed well-fit on them.

Indian U-19 boys emerged as the winners of U-19 World Cup in 2018

Meanwhile, the Indian youngsters proved that the future of Indian cricket is in safe hands, winning the U-19 World Cup in 2018 under the leadership of Prithvi Shaw.

This was the fourth time that the trophy was brought to India - after Mohammad Kaif in 2000, Virat Kohli in 2008, and Unmukt Chand in 2012. Prithvi Shaw also went on to make his senior team debut, scoring a massive 134 in his first ever innings in a Test against the Windies.

#7 The Big Bash League heralds in a change to one of the oldest rules in cricket 

Bat flip replaced coin toss to mark the beginning of a BBL game

The T20I league run by Cricket Australia - the KFC Big Bash League (BBL), has always been in the limelight for some revolutionary ideas in the sport.

The BBL was the first to feature lit-up stumps, zing bails, retractable roofs, pool-side seats, the spider cam, the batsman's cam, the umpire's cam and so on. Most of them have gone on to be incorporated by the ICC in international tournaments and contests as well, and as of now, the BBL has come up with yet another idea.

The purpose of coin-toss in a game to decide who bats first and who chooses it has a history that spreads across 141 years in the game. But from now on, coin toss in the BBL would be carried out by flipping a specially constructed bat (for 50-50 probability of results) and captains would be calling for "roofs" or "flats" instead of the traditional heads-and-tails.

The roof symbolizes the curved face of the bat, while the flats symbolize the hitting surface of a regular bat. Gully cricketers from all over the world may associate this to their age-old methods of flipping bats to decide the toss, and to be honest, they aren't really far away from this new method.

#8 Archie Schiller and the Spirit of Cricket

Archie Schiller, co-captain of Australia exchanging Team sheets with Virat Kohli during the toss at Boxing Day Test match

It was just around a month ago, that six-year-old Archie Schiller was in the news for the first time. The young kid had a heart condition that had been affecting him right from his birth, and it had taken him several bouts of open-heart surgery and similar complicated procedures, to stay alive even for this long.

An ardent fan of the Kangaroos, Schiller's story was made available to Cricket Australia via the MakeAWish foundation, and soon the youngster found himself in the annals of cricketing history by captaining the Australian side, in the third India-Australia Test at Melbourne.

Archie was at Melbourne for another session of treatment following his seventh birthday just a few days before Christmas, and he received his birthday present in the form of the Aussie baggy-green Test cap, from coach Justin Langer.

Langer had earlier allowed Schiller to train with the senior side before the first Test at Adelaide and had even told him to continue the practice to ensure his place in the Boxing Day Test a couple of weeks later. And true to his word, Langer made the young boy a part of the Aussie side at Melbourne and he was also given the rank of honorary captain.

#9 India on the cusp of historic series win Down Under

Virat Kohli could be the first Indian skipper to lead a victorious Indian team down under

After a gap of four years, top-ranked India found themselves in Australia once again, to contest for another Test series against the hosts. This was the twelfth time that Australia were hosting India, and victory has always eluded the men in blue so far Down Under. 

Virat Kohli and co. were hence obviously determined to turn the tables this time, and having had enough learning curves in England and South Africa where they lost Tests 4-1 and 2-1 respectively, nothing short of a series win would be justifiable. Accordingly, they started the set of contests on a high, winning at Adelaide by 31 runs.

The second Test, however, brought in an uncalled-for defeat as India paid the price for poor batting and a few selection follies. The most recent third Test gave back India the required upper hand, as a superb all-round display the visitors resulted in a 137-run win.

This was in fact, the first time ever that India won more than a game in a single series in Australia, and also the first win in Melbourne after around 40 years. 

With one more game remaining, India can now definitely hope for the best, as they are in clear sight of what has been elusive so far - a Test series win in Australia.

#10 A year of high scores in limited-overs' games

England registered the highest team total in ODIs against Australia in 2018

245, 243, 243, 229, 221, 221 - reads some of the innings totals in T20Is conducted in 2018.

Meanwhile, Aaron Finch also broke his own record for highest individual T20I score, rewriting the new value at 172 runs he made against Zimbabwe in late July. He fell agonizingly short of Chris Gayle's 175 in the IPL, which is still the highest ever individual score in any official Twenty-over innings.

Over to the ODIs, and most of us are reminded of the new world record ODI total - 481/6 - made by England against Australia at Nottingham in June. Jonny Bairstow and Alex Hales faced 92 balls apiece, to make 139 and 147 respectively, and laid the foundations to what was one of the most attacking scorelines ever.

Just around two weeks earlier, the Kiwi women had made short work of their Irish counterparts, scoring 491/4 in their allotted 50 overs, Suzie Bates (151), Maddy Green (122) and Amelia Kerr (81*) playing the chief roles.

Kerr had made her maiden double hundred (232*) in the format just a couple of innings earlier. Among men, Fakhar Zaman became the first Pakistani cricketer to reach the mark (210*).

In conclusion, 2018 was also a year of high scores, both in cases of teams, as well as for individuals.