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2010s: A decade full of bewildering surprises ft. Steve Smith's transformation & England's ODI revolution

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2010s: A decade full of bewildering surprises ft. Steve Smith's transformation & England's ODI revolution

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Anirudh Suresh

12/31/2019

From Leicester City winning the Premier League to Donald Trump becoming the US President, this decade has given us some crazy stories and has, in all honesty, been bonkers. And the sport of cricket, too, has thrown us completely off guard with some events which stand unfathomable till date.

Had someone bashed my head at the start of this decade and I’d gone into a coma and woken up in 2020, honestly, I would have refused to believe that this world was indeed real. Some of the events that have unfolded over the course of the last 10 years have been absolutely mind-boggling and looking back in retrospect, they still make me scratch my head till date and leave me with the same ol’ question - ‘How did this happen?’ I have compiled a list of 9 such events.

Steve Smith transforming into the best Test batsman in the world

I remember looking at this faux Shane Warne prototype when he broke into the scene and thinking “This guy can’t bat; he is not a proper bowler either, so why on earth is he in the team?”.  Even if he’d ended up taking 350 Test wickets, I’d have believed it. I mean, yeah,he was bang average, but he had a nice action and he gave the ball a proper rip. But Steve Smith becoming the best since Bradman? WITH THE BAT? WHAT?

BCCI making peace with Decision Review System (DRS)

After what happened in Sydney in 2008, you’d have imagined India to be the first side to vouch for DRS, wouldn’t you? Wrong. After the Sri Lanka series in 2008 - where they got about 99/100 reviews wrong - the BCCI were hell-bent in opposing this apparently ‘inaccurate’ technology. I mean, DRS saving Sachin Tendulkar from the blushes in the 2011 World Cup semi-final wasn’t enough to convince them to opt for it, so you can understand why I’m a bit flabbergasted looking at the current situation. 

Vernon Philander ending up as the best seam bowler of this decade

Oh come on, don’t tell me you all saw Vernon Philander finish as one of the best seam bowlers of his generation (and all-time). My first memory of Philander was the 2007 WT20 match between India and South Africa, where he dropped a sitter and was bowling 125 kmph trundlers and getting whacked by a 20-year-old Rohit Sharma. In fact, I was low-key cringing when I knew he was going to make his Test debut against Australia in 2011. 9 years later, here I am. 

Sachin Tendulkar being overthrown as India’s greatest limited-overs batsman

Sachin had scaled heights of greatness that was humanly impossible and at one point in time, human beings migrating to another planet and starting a civilization over there seemed more likely than a batsman coming close to breaking his records. And then Virat Kohli happened. And he is not just breaking them, he is literally shattering them - one by one. The first archetype of a Man mightier than God.

England bringing about the revolution in ODI cricket

Of all the absurd things to have happened this decade, this might just take the cake. How weird is it that a country that once sported a top-four of Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott and Ravi Bopara eventually ended up revolutionizing the ODI format? Hell, even Misbah-ul-Haq scoring a 56-ball Test century or Rahul Dravid hitting back-to-back-to-back sixes in T20 cricket doesn’t shock me as much as this one. 

Bangladesh reaching the semi-final of an ICC tournament

I might come off as a bit sour on this one, for Bangladesh had already beaten India and South Africa in ICC tournaments before the start of this decade, but I never saw them as a team genuinely capable of making the semi-finals. And yet they did, in the 2017 Champions Trophy, after being placed in the group of death alongside Australia, New Zealand and England. They were always supposed to remain the team that will cause the odd upset but never make it deep in the tournament, weren’t they?

Hashim Amla holding every ‘fastest to’ ODI record there ever is

Can you picture Kei Nishikori holding the record for the most aces hit in a calendar year? Or can you picture Burnley scoring 100 league goals in a season? Seeing Hashim Amla, the ever-so-calm presence who bore bowlers - even the Indian spinners - to death,  absolutely decimate every record there ever was in ODI cricket was a bolt from the blue for me. I have stopped googling ‘Fastest to X runs in ODI cricket’ or ‘Fastest to X hundreds in ODI cricket’, for I’m exhausted seeing Amla’s name on top of every list. 

The Indian pace revolution

Growing up, I associated Indian cricket with a lot of things, but pace bowling was never one of them. As special as the one-off wins in Perth in 2008 and Johannesburg in 2006 were, seeing the Indian ‘pacers’ consistently get whacked bowling military medium was underwhelming and borderline embarrassing. I’d honestly given up on that front and was sure that minefields and rank-turners were the only ploy for the team to keep winning and stay relevant. I’m not sure what went right (or wrong), but it is kind of stupefying to think that India can now boast of having the best pace attack in the world. 

A ‘well-behaved’ Australian team

Let’s not kid ourselves, we all know that up until March 2018, Australia were the worst behaved side on the field. Their antics, sometimes (many a time), got way out of hand and often, they crossed the line, with their aggression subtly transitioning into borderline bullying. But hey, that’s all a thing of the past, they are an extremely well-behaved bunch now. Surely them getting caught blatantly cheating on camera and two of their best players getting banned for a year could not have played a part in bringing about this ‘cultural change’? Surely?

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