Cricket World's Top 5 moments of 2019 for Root, Morgan & Co: Year in review
The England cricket team had a frenetic year, to put it mildly. 2019, for them, began with a significant away series win against West Indies and ended with a defeat against South Africa. But, all that happened in between, most notably the World Cup win and Ashes rivalry, made the year special for the Three Lions.
Historic World Cup victory
England cricket had several remarkable moments in 2019, but the most remarkable of them all has to be their maiden ODI World Cup victory. The hosts went into the tournament as favourites with India and Australia having won the title in 2011 and 2015 respectively at home. However, the team wobbled a bit in the league stage, with their qualification for the semi-final under threat at one point.
England came back all guns blazing and blew away Australia in the semi-final. Chasing a target of 241 in the final against New Zealand, they finished exactly on the same score and the match went into a super over. Funnily, both teams scored exactly 15 runs in the decider and England were crowned champions based on the boundary countback.
The Botham '81 repeat in Ashes 2019
We fondly remember Ashes 1981 as Botham's Ashes. We wouldn't have shied away from calling Ashes 2019 Stokes' Ashes had Steve Smith not piled up a mountain of runs to help Australia retain the urn. However, as far as individual brilliance is concerned, the two evoke several parallels.
Botham finished Ashes 1981 with just one run shy of 400, to go along with his 34 wickets at 20.58. The knock for which he is remembered the most came in England's most terrific come-from-behind victory. The team was following on after getting bundled out for 174 in reply to Australia's 401 and this is when Botham came to his own. He plundered an unbeaten 149 at a strike rate of over 100, to back up his 6-fer in the first innings.
In his 73-run partnership with Jack Leach, in which Leach had a significant one-run contribution, Stokes took England to a miraculous win in Headingley and opened the floor for Botham parallels.
The Joe Root catharsis
Joe Root was under tremendous pressure after averaging just 27.40 after the first Test against New Zealand and his twin failures in the first Test. Coupled with England's dwindling returns in the longest format, it was beginning to take its toll on him.
However, Root only reiterated that form is temporary but class is permanent with a magnificent 226 run-knock. With this, he became the only touring skipper to score a Test double century in New Zealand.
This was his highest score as England captain, overtaking his previous best of 190 against South Africa. The double ton was also Root's highest overseas score, the last being 182 in West Indies. Then knock also ensured that the discussions for him being stripped off his 'Big Four' status were laid to rest, at least temporarily.
Ben Stokes voted BBC Sport Personality of the Year
In a country where cricket no longer commands the level of fandom it once did, Ben Stokes being named the BBC sports personality of the year was a shot in the arm for cricket in its last Test bastion. Stokes became the first cricketer to be given the honour since another English all-rounder Andrew Flintoff received it in 2005. He joins the company of sporting icons like Andy Murray and Steve Redgrave.
The award came on the back of Stokes' World Cup heroics and an unbelievable unbeaten Ashes century in Headingley. The all-rounder has at least done equally, if not more, as ECB's multi-million dollar project, The Hundred, to popularise cricket in the country again.
Another nail-biting super over against Black Caps
England had fielded an inexperienced squad in the five-match T20I series against New Zealand. After four games, the series was tied at 2-2 and the decider had to be curtailed to 11 overs per side due to rain. New Zealand piled up 146 runs and England, for all they tried could not better it, although they equaled it, and the match went into a super over, another such affair after the World Cup decider.
However, there was a clear winner this time around as England set 18 runs for New Zealand to win. Unfortunately for them, the Kiwis missed the mark by a good 10 runs. The stars for England were Eoin Morgan and Jonny Bairstow who hit a six each while Chris Jordan was brilliant with his change-ups to defended the score successfully.
©Cricket World 2020