Cricket in 2022 review: England's dominance, UAE's hat-trick hero and more

In an action-packed year, India blew hot and cold, international cricket continues to return to Pakistan, and Australia were unstoppable in the women's game

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If change is the only constant, cricket embodied that truth in 2022.

There was a palpable shift in the way the game is played, established practices making way for a promising new era.

The change was brought forth by England. Many talk about being aggressive but quickly go back into their shell at the first sign of danger. Not only did England embrace 'all out' cricket, they made a point to pursue it even at the cost of defeat. And they did it in the Test format, after losing 11 out of 17 Tests and winning just once.

The architects behind the new philosophy were new red-ball captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum. Just like Eoin Morgan laid out a clear template for playing ODI cricket after their embarrassing exit from the 2015 World Cup, England decided to go for the same fearless approach in Tests. And it worked magnificently.

Under Stokes, England have recorded nine wins from their last 10 Tests, including a historic 3-0 series whitewash in Pakistan that included a record 506-4 in 75 overs on the opening day of the Rawalpindi Test.

Their bravado was not limited to Tests. The champion white-ball team also recorded a T20 series win in Pakistan, before the main event of the year - T20 World Cup in Australia.

In unusually difficult conditions during Australia's rainy season, England survived a tricky group phase - where they lost to Ireland - before qualifying to the knockouts.

There, Jos Buttler and Alex Hales smashed India to pieces in the semi-final in a 10-wicket win while chasing 169 before it was the turn of Stokes, once again, to hold the team together during a difficult chase in the final against a superb Pakistan pace attack in Melbourne. Stokes hit a fifty to hand England both the 50-over and 20-over world titles at the same time.

England had by now mastered cricket in all it forms and their players had become trend setters. Their history making continued in franchise cricket, as all-rounder Sam Curran - player of the tournament at the T20 World Cup - became the most expensive player in IPL history when he was snapped up fore $2.23 million during the auction. Stokes and new batting star Harry Brook also landed million-dollar contracts, which was the icing on the cake.

UAE make history ... and progress

The UAE team will also look back at the year with satisfaction. Not only did they make it to the opening stage of the T20 World Cup, they also became a part of history. Young leg-spinner Karthik Meiyappan took the fifth hat-trick in T20 World Cup history, against Sri Lanka.

While it was not enough for victory and even though the national team failed to progress to the Super 12 stage, there was belief that the team was moving in the right direction as they ended their campaign with a win over Namibia.

Pakistan came close to achieving glory themselves. After starting the T20 World Cup with a heartbreaking loss to India and then Zimbabwe, it seemed their campaign in Australia was over before it started.

But in the face of adversity, Pakistan chose to fight and went all the way to the final. Had it not been for the aggravation of a knee injury to pace ace Shaheen Afridi in the final, maybe Pakistan would have defended 138 and scripted one of the greatest World Cup comebacks.

Still there was the consolation of a full tour by Australia and England of their country for Pakistan to look back on the year a bit more fondly and with the belief that international cricket had truly returned after years of uncertainty.

India endure inconsistent year

However, things did not pan out as smoothly for India. Even though Rohit Sharma had taken over as captain from Virat Kohli, the Indian team never settled down in any format, changing squads and captains almost every other series due to injuries or rotation policy, losing their grip in all three formats; they won four and lost three Tests, won 14 and lost eight ODIs, and prevailed in 28 T20s while suffering defeat in 10.

They saw England chase down 378 in the fourth innings of the Birmingham Test with ease, lost the ODI series in Bangladesh and were out-muscled in the T20 World Cup semi-final against Buttler's boys - all crushing defeats that have set the team back.

Kohli's otherworldly knock against Pakistan in the T20 World Cup, Suryakumar Yadav's blazing form in T20s and the rise of fast bowler Umran Malik were few of the positives for India which they can take into the new year.

Also, they are in with a good chance of making it to the World Test Championship final again in June, which could give them a chance to win their fist world title in a decade.

Australia dominate women's game

While England dominated the men's scene, Australia were unstoppable in the women's game. Alyssa Healy played the greatest innings in any World Cup final when she cracked 170 from 138 balls in the 50-over final against England to secure the title.

But one incident overshadowed everything that happened this year. Cricket lost one of its greatest exponents when Australian spin legend Shane Warne passed away. In a world that has grown a bit too accustomed to death during the pandemic, Warne's demise still shook it to its core.

The year had more than its fair share of heroics and tragedies. The journey now moves on to 2023, where another World Cup - the 50-over one in India - and many interesting battles await.

Updated: December 28, 2022, 9:48 AM
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