With the year 2014 starting with an almighty bang- Corey Anderson slamming the fastest ODI century of 36 balls breaking Afridi’s long standing 16 year old record- many may have already forgotten the hustle and bustle of 2013.
No doubt, more records will fall in 2014, considering the rate at which athletes are evolving into humanoids these days. But for the time being, let us take a fond look back at the best and worst performances of an interesting year that did not involve the Olympics, A World Cup or any other major international tournament of any reputation (Sorry, Champion’s Trophy, but you’re extinct now. And sorry IPL, Tendulkar has retired)
Comeback Of The Decade:
The Spanish bull came back after missing the Aussie Open, easing himself into claycourt season with a few ATP250 tournaments. He went on to win the French Open, lose in the first round of Wimbledon and win the US Open. 2 Majors in a comeback year, along with 8 other tournament wins made him the tennis star of 2013. Oh, and not to mention regaining the World No. 1 ranking once again, after sitting out of the game for 7 long painful months. 13 Slams, 4 to go to catch Federer- who doesn’t look like he will win any more.
Yawn Yeah Of 2013:
Another world championship, another record breaking season, all before entering the wrong side of his 20s. While his idol lies in an artificial coma in Switzerland as the world prays for his recovery, Vettel is only 3 good seasons away from shattering Schumacher’s records forever. I say ‘good seasons’ because even good is good enough in a Red Bull monster machine.
Anti Yawn Yeah Of 2013:
Rookie 20 year old Marc Marquez winning the World title in his first year as a MotoGP driver- with Honda. His four back to back victories at Germany, USA, Indianapolis and Czech Republic- a watershed moment for the sport.
WTF Of 2013:
The Australian Cricket Team
Starting 2013 with a 4-0 whitewash in India, losing the Champions Trophy title, and then going on to lose 3-0 in England for the Ashes. 8 of the last 9 tests defeated. ODI series in India (3-2) loss, after a brave performance with a 2nd string team- barely an indicator of what was to come. Nobody realized that their most mocked bowler had won 2 T20 titles back to back, slowly gaining confidence after not even being considered for the England Ashes series. And now, Australia- under riled captain Clarke– are on the verge of yet another historic 5-0 sweep of the Ashes Down Under. I say ‘historic’ because this team wasn’t expected to win a test in the Return Ashes, let alone a dominant 5-0 thrashing. Flintoff’s team were sitting ducks back in 2006, Cook’s team are fresh off one of their most successful years in International Cricket.
This could be the beginning of a new era in Australian Cricket. The aura isn’t back yet, but to beat the English test team in any series by this margin requires a special effort. Players like Warner, Watson, Smith, Haddin, Johnson, Lyon- all the guys that were mocked through most of their careers- have answered their critics in style, once and for all.
Star Of 2013:
The boy never ceases to amaze. After a strong home season following a decent Champions Trophy run, Kohli went into God mode during the ODI series against Australia. This was followed by some lone efforts in the doomed ODI series in South Africa, and the new test no. 4 then took up his new place in the side with some stunning efforts at Johannesburg. His consistency through the year, coupled with his fluency and remarkable confidence- makes him a popular vote for the best batsman of ’13- despite not leading any run scoring charts (Misbah led the ODI charts and Clarke led the test charts- only due to the sheer amount of innings played to score those runs.)
Best Batsman of ’13:
Even though his team enjoyed little success in ODIs in 2013, captain De Villiers- also the keeper- remained his outrageous batting self, scoring in almost every innings- tests or otherwise. He ended the year with a bang against India, and we aren’t even getting to his T20 antics yet.
Best Bowler of ’13:
The pace brigade is back in town. These two bowlers weren’t exactly prolific with the wickets through the year, but their ability to come back after being down and out puts them on top of the list. Their ability to put the fear of God in the minds of Indian and English batsmen towards the end of the year made them a pleasure to watch- a nice little throwback to the pre-helmet days of the West Indian bowling attack. Rohit Sharma was embarrassed by Steyn repeatedly, after playing Johnson pretty well on sub continental wickets. Steyn went wicketless for more than 100 runs at Jo’burg and lost his no. 1 test spot to Philander in the process. He came back with a 10fer at Durban. Enough said.
Johnson, meanwhile, embarrassed an entire nation- this time, it was not his own. England will never be the same team again- ask the likes of Trott, Swann, Prior and Cook. As the Joker once said, ‘You’ve changed things. Forever.’ *cue Johnson’s maniacal laugh*
Worst Team of ‘13
Yes, worse than Delhi Daredevils. Wins are rarer than runs by Gayle in a non-Bangalore jersey.
Upset of ‘13
French Open Champion Nadal losing first round to little-known Belgian Steve Darcis. Arguably a bigger upset than Sergiy Stakhovsky defeating Federer in the second round, only next day.
Heartbreak of ‘13
1 tournament win, and a fall to no. 6 in the world. The only top 5 player he can still beat on a regular basis- JM Del Potro.
The most heartbreaking part is- this could just be the beginning of the end.
Sporting Moment of ‘13
Lance Armstrong confessing to doping on Oprah. Millions of dreams shattered, a sport destroyed, and a hero killed.
Other memorable moments: Tendulkar retirement (speech), Murray finally winning Wimbledon, Usain Bolt doing the triple at the World Championships, Red Sox winning the World Series after the marathon bombings, Lisicki’s breakdown in the Wimbledon Final, The SuperBowl Blackout, Ray Allen’s last gasp 3 pointer to take the NBA Championship from the grasp of the Spurs, Ishant’s Champions Trophy over to dismiss Bopara and Morgan to tilt the final in India’s favor.