While the year 2020 in itself has been one of the worst in recent human history, sporting activities have been impacted by the coronavirus. But before the arrival of the virus, certain players in international cricket rose up to the challenge and performed brilliantly. Here is the list of the performers.
Marnus Labuschagne has become a revelation since the last Ashes. In the three Tests that he played between December last year and January this year, he scored 549 runs with the highest being 215 at an unbelievable average of 91.50.
But it wasn’t only Tests this year as Labuschagne showed his ODI batting skills to the world as well. In the 7 matches that he played, the right-handed batsman scored 305 runs at an average of 50.83 and a strike rate of 94.43, which also broke the myth that he is only a Test specialist.
His one hundred and two fifties also showcased the range of shots he has in his batting arsenal. With his display, Marnus has cemented his place in the limited-overs squads.
The next in the list is India’s, KL Rahul. Much like Labuschagne, Rahul too was a revelation before the lockdown. He not only scored runs but also took the place of the makeshift wicket-keeper. In 2020, Rahul wasn’t able to play a Test match, but in the limited-overs cricket, he showed his true class.
While his performances in the T20 took him to the second position in ICC rankings for batsmen, he was solid as a rock one-day internationals as well. In 8 T20Is, Rahul scored 323 runs at an outstanding average of 53.83 and a brilliant strike rate of 144.84. In ODIs, he accumulated 350 runs at an average of 70.
Quinton de Kock
What was otherwise a dull start to the year for South Africa, their limited-overs captain, Quinton de Kock turned out to be a bright spot for the team. His display across the formats was impressive. In the four-match Test series against England, he scored 380 runs at an average of 47.50.
He went berserk after he was asked to lead South Africa in ODIs. While his team drew the ODI series against England, they defeated Australia. In those six matches, one of which was washed away, de Kock scored 228 runs. In the six T20Is, de Kock was again on fire as he scored 208 runs.
The former skipper is another Australian in the last. Although the limelight in the Test series against the Kiwis was taken away by Marnus Labuschagne, Smith made sure that he doesn’t get complacent and scored runs at a brisk pace.
In the test series, where Marnus scored more than 500 runs, Smith was perturbed by the short ball ploy of Neil Wagner and therefore, could only score 214 runs at an average of 42.80.
He made up for the Test form by scoring 352 runs in ODIs at an average of 58.67, with two half-centuries and a century. In T20Is he amassed 104 runs in three matches at an average of 52 and a strike rate of 142.47.
Ben Stokes was in sensational touch before cricket was stopped due to virus. He made useful contributions in Tests and T20Is. While he scored 318 runs at an amazing average of 45.42 in the four Tests against South Africa, the Durham man also picked up 10 wickets at a brilliant average of 22.00 with.
Having missed the ODI series against the Proteas due to personal reasons, Stokes made a comeback in the T20Is and scored quick runs. His best score of the season has been 47 not out. Stokes contribution with the ball also came handy as the New Zealand born took four wickets in three matches at an average of 18.75.
Tim Southee swung the red cherry left, right and centre as he had a dream four-match run in this season. He took 26 wickets in those four matches at an amazing average of 18.96. He was rightly chosen as the Man of the Series against India.
He made his performance count in the purest format of the game.
Ngidi returned to the folds early this year after recovering from muscle injury. The South African picked up 13 wickets in six T20I games at an outstanding average of 18.77.
In ODIs too, the man from Natal showed his power and picked up 12 wickets in four games with career-best figures of 6/58 being a part of those scalps. His economy this time around was 5.68 and his average also looked sublime at 16.08.
Arjun Tendulkar, the son of Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar, finally made his senior debut as he donned the Mumbai jersey during an Elite Group E fixture of the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2020/21.
After missing the first two games, Arjun played his first game during Mumbai's third game of the tournament. However, the pacer didn't have the best of outings as he finished his spell at 3-0-34-1.
Arjun had conceded 15 runs in his first over before returning to take the wicket of Haryana opener, Chaitanya Bishnoi. However, Mumbai ended up losing the game by 8 wickets, and thus, crashed out of the tournament with two games still to play.
The 21-year-old is expected to be retained in the line-up for the remaining games. After the all-rounder bagged his first wicket, he became one of the top trends on social media. England women's team batter Danielle Wyatt also reacted to the southpaw's debut.
Wyatt, who is known to be a close friend of Arjun, lauded and congratulated the youngster for bagging a wicket on his debut. "Congratulations Arjun! Great start," the World Cup winner wrote on Twitter.
During an interaction with Cricket.com, Wyatt, who has after faced Arjun in the nets, said the youngster is getting quicker.
“Since then whenever I bump into Sachin or Arjun or whenever they come to Lord’s to train, I go to the nets and ask him (Arjun) to bowl with the new ball to me. But he is getting very quick now. He always says I will bounce you and knock your head off so I don’t like him bowling to me anymore. He is getting too dangerous to face,” Wyatt had said in June 2020.
Having finally made his senior debut, Arjun could be in action in IPL 2021 as he is now eligible to register for the auction. As per the norms, unless a franchise recommends someone, a player has to play at least one domestic game to enter the IPL auction.
Legendary Australian spinner Shane Warne cleared up the comments he made about Marnus Labuschagne that earned him a fair bit of flak from the Australian fans. However, Warne on Saturday cleared up the comments he made about Labuschagne.
Warne was blasted by the Australian cricket fraternity after Labuschagne scored a ton on Day 1 of the fourth Test against India at Gabba. During the third Test, Warne, alongside former teammate and all-rounder Andrew Symonds, was reportedly heard using an 'expletive' while commentating on Marnus' batting.
"Jeez it's annoying. 'No!!!' Just f---ing bat properly," he had said according to World Wide of Sports.
Warne said he's a huge fan of Labuschagne's batting and added that the had already cleared the air with 26-year-old. The 51-year-old instead revealed that Marnus was 'ok' with it and the pair had a laugh regarding the same.
“I just want to clear something up,” Warne said on Fox Cricket.
“I’ve been a huge fan of Marnus. I’ve read a few reports saying ‘cop that Shane!’ about what you said about [him]. What I said about Marnus Labuschagne was ‘bat properly’. And what that means is none of that silly stuff of ‘wait on!’ and all of that carry on," he added
“Just bat, because you’re such a good player and yesterday I thought he didn’t do any of that stuff and he made a brilliant hundred.
Indian team vice-captain Rohit Sharma has been facing a lot of criticism for playing an aerial shot off the bowling of Nathan Lyon, which led to his dismissal on Day 2 of the ongoing fourth Test in Brisbane.
However, Rohit, who played a knock of 44, said he does not regret playing the aerial shot, despite gifting his wicket to Lyon, who is making his 100th Test appearance for Australia. Instead, Rohit said that he didn't connect his shot properly.
"I reached where I wanted to reach, just that I did not connect with where I wanted to hit the ball. I was trying to pierce that long-on and deep square-leg fielder, I just did not connect with the way I would have loved to," Rohit said during a virtual press conference
"I actually liked what I did today, before coming here, we knew it would be a good pitch to bat, of course, there would be bounce and carry to the keeper, but this is what I enjoy," the 33-year-old added.
"Once I was in and I had played a few overs, I realised there was not much swing so I did little adjustment there, after that, it was an unfortunate dismissal, it is something I won't regret. I like to put pressure on the bowler once I am in," he further stated.
"That is my role in this team to keep putting pressure on the bowlers. The run-scoring has been slightly difficult for both the teams so someone needs to put their hand up and think about how to put pressure on the bowlers," he concluded.
India will resume day 3 at 62/2 after rain forced early stumps on day 2 at the Gabba. The visitors are trailing the hosts by 307 runs. The series is currently tied at 1-1 after the Sydney Test ended in a stalemate.
Nathan Lyon on Friday became the 13th Australian player to play 100 Tests in the 'baggy green' as he lined-up on Day 1 of the ongoing fourth and final Test in Brisbane. He marked his debut with the wicket of Rohit Sharma.
It has been some journey for Nathan Lyon, having made his Test debut in 2011 against Sri Lanka at Galle. As called by his teammates, 'Garry' has enjoyed a decade of success and will now unarguably qualify as one of the greatest bowlers to have ever graced the game.
Lyon is already the third-highest wicket-taker for the Aussies with 397 wickets to his name. And, considering the fact that he started his journey as a pitch curator at the Adelaide Oval, Lyon's story is nothing short of a fairytale.
In the same light, Lyon has now recalled the humorous interaction that he had with his father before putting on the Australian Baggy Green Cap for the first time. Lyon revealed that his father was happy that he would at least play a single Test match for Australia.
“I called Mum and Dad, I think Dad was out the back of Temora (NSW town) somewhere working. I said, ‘Dad, you won’t believe this,’ and he said, ‘What?’ I said, ‘I’m making my debut.’ He goes, ‘That’s all right, at least you’ll play one game,’ and he hung up,” said Lyon in a chat with Mark Howard on Fox Cricket.
Lyon said that his father got too emotional and hung up early to avoid a conversation. He also recalled that both his mother as well as his grandmother were crying and also added that his brother was totally speechless.
“I’ve since found out that he was probably too emotional to talk. Then I called my brother, and he was speechless. Mum started crying… I called my grandmother and she started crying,” the off-spinner added.
Lyon would savour every moment he is spending at The Gabba as the match will determine the outcome of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, which is currently tied at 1-1- after India salvaged a draw in Sydney.
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