Spot fixing row mars 2010, Tendulkar shines

Updated: Dec 21, 2010, 09:34 AM IST

New Delhi: Sachin Tendulkar set a slew of records and England, who gave the game to the world, finally won a World Cup but spot-fixing may well be the lasting cricketing memory of a tumultuous year.

Tranquillity is a rare thing in Pakistan cricket and there was considerable bad blood in the team that returned after a shambolic tour of Australia where they lost all three Test matches, five one-day internationals and a Twenty20 game.

As part of its house-cleaning process, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) banned three former captains -- Younus Khan, Mohammad Yousuf and Shoaib Malik -- and fined several players including Shahid Afridi, who featured in a bizarre ball-biting incident in Perth.

The team reached even lower depths when a British media report alleged that some players had been bribed to bowl pre-determined no-balls during a Test match in England in August.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) subsequently suspended the then Test captain Salman Butt and pacers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir.

The ICC probed the suspect scoring pattern of a Pakistan-England one-day international as well but found no "compelling evidence" against any player.

The PCB, however, could not breathe easy.

In November, wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider disappeared in Dubai, where the team were playing South Africa, and resurfaced in London, seeking asylum and saying his life was under threat from match-fixers.

"Cricket in Pakistan faces its biggest crisis and so does the country. We are in a mess," said Imran Khan, arguably the best captain Pakistan ever had.

Across the border in India, things were rosier and the seemingly ageless Tendulkar was very much in the thick of things.

The 37-year-old batsman brought up the first double century in one-day cricket`s history against South Africa in February and completed 14,000 Test runs against Australia in October.

He rounded off the year by becoming the first cricketer to score 50 Test hundreds, while on tour against South Africa as India warmed up for the World Cup which they will host with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh from Feb. 19.

Recognition of Tendulkar`s achievements came in the form of the ICC Cricketer of the Year award. The Indian Air Force also named him its honorary group captain.

Former Indian Premier League (IPL) commissioner Lalit Modi was suspended after allegations of corruption in cricket`s richest event ensnared top politicians and Bollywood stars.

The IPL, however, remained a hot property and two new franchises -- Kochi and Pune -- were sold for USD 703 million, more than the worth of the eight original franchises put together.

In the Twenty20 World Cup, Paul Collingwood`s England comprehensively beat Australia in the final in Barbados to win the country`s first global trophy in limited-overs cricket.

Australia`s decline was evident in other formats as well as they slumped to fifth place in the ICC Test rankings after a 2-0 whitewash in India.

England`s hopes of beating them in the Ashes series rose when they took a 1-0 lead after the first two Tests but Australia stormed back to level at 1-1 with a win in Perth.

Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan dropped the curtain on his illustrious Test career, taking his 800th Test wicket off his last delivery amid intense drama.

Chris Gayle scored the lone Test triple century of the year, for West Indies against Sri Lanka, Vangipurappu Laxman braved a bad back to lead India to a one-wicket victory over Australia in a Mohali Test and Peter Siddle sizzled with an Ashes hat-trick in the Brisbane Test.

Australia`s Brett Lee announced his Test retirement, while England`s talismanic all-rounder Andrew Flintoff and New Zealand`s tearaway pacer Shane Bond quit the game altogether.

Cricket made its Asian Games debut in Guangzhou where Bangladesh won gold but India did not deem it necessary to send a team.

The game also underwent experiments. Split-innings one-dayers were trialled in England and Australia, the ICC announced new Test and one-day championships, while the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) tried out a pink ball and advocated day-night Tests.

Bureau Report