So now that we have got 2020 out of our system and swooped right into the new year, what’s really going to happen in the world of cricket? A lot of things. For starters, we are going to witness 12 months of non-stop Indian cricket action, but apart from that, what other things to expect?
While the 20 top things from 2020 seemed strange, it is certainly not one bit strange to hope that the return of international cricket to major countries would make this year one of the most interesting ones in the recent past. So what really are some of the events we can expect to happen?
The stand-out year for Ravichandran Ashwin in Tests
Now it’s been a while since we have addressed the elephant in the room, so Ravichandran Ashwin really has the best opportunity to be the stand-out bowler in the longest format. It not only has to do with India playing at home but the confidence that the off-spinner has found over the last two months with the red-ball. And stretching even more with the white-ball has really made him a truly world-class bowler. With the turn of the year, Ashwin looks and most likely will end up as the stand-out bowler in World cricket, at least with the red-cherry in his hand. Not even Pat Cummins would end up being in the debate with Ashwin in the ring.
Virat ‘King’ Kohli’s ascendancy to the throne
After Steve Smith’s stand-out performance in the Ashes, Marnus Labuschagne’s incredible second-life, the entire world of cricket has fallen gaga over the duo and their fantastic partnership on the field. While Kane Williamson did get a slight peep into the rankings as the top Test batsmen, 2021 isn’t going to be that favourable to the Kiwi batsman, looking at the schedule. With New Zealand just playing four Tests, it shouldn’t take much time to ponder over who would replace him at the top of the rankings! Kohli himself will, given that India are largely going to farm a chunk of their 2021 fixtures at home. And at home, no one really beats Kohli, with an average of 68.42 and 3558 runs under his fit stomach.
Mohammed Amir’s ‘Afridi-like’ comeback
While logic has taken the ascendancy in the others thus far, the prediction has taken the upper hand here. So after calling it quits and putting PCB under the spotlight, why would Amir make a comeback? Well, remember 2020? It had to host a certain T20 World Cup but since that didn’t happen and was postponed to 2022, 2021’s World Cup in India certainly warrants a seamer in his top form. With an edition of PSL and possibly CPL lined-up, Amir could make the best out of the two gigs to force himself back in the selection, because it is a real opportunity for Pakistan to win the tournament.
Big Bash League finally introducing the DRS, ending Warne’s complaint-box
Now, it wouldn’t be fair to say that 2020 was just a bad year, because it was horrific. Do you know what made me change my mind? The constant chirping of a certain Shane Warne in the commentary box, which he seemingly got confused for a complaint box, where he yapped, rapped and mocked the BBL and its umpires. While the 2020 edition certainly has gone for a toss now, the long list of players crying foul play and the league looking at the comments would certainly ensure that the 2021 edition would be introducing DRS. Mark my words!
Kyle Jamieson and Dawid Malan in the IPL
While the last one might have shocked you, this should not. This is a prediction that is certain to happen - which team is the only question. While Jamieson more than proved that he isn’t a one-format pony, Malan’s exploits in the shortest format make him the most wanted player in the T20 format. More than certain, these two players would be amongst the other millionaires in the IPL but who gets them remains a puzzling question. You’d yellove it better!
Top players pulling the late switch on the Hundred
They said that the Hundred was bound to happen last year, then walked in Coronavirus to save the year from becoming a disaster. In 2021, the tournament is set to be back again but unfortunately, while we don’t really have a choice, the players do. So it shouldn’t be shocking to either of us reading it at the moment that top players are going to pull the late switch on the Hundred and play elsewhere - that’s just waiting to happen.
12 months of international cricket, so more debuts in Indian cricket
God certainly seems to be answering all our prayers. So when this enthusiastic Indian cricket fan sought for 12-action packed months for the Indian team, god didn’t but BCCI answered. 12 months of international cricket is a surety and so are the fixtures too, now they are out in the public, which only means one thing - more debuts in Indian cricket. The likes of Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Ishan Porel, Kartik Tyagi, Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ravi Bishnoi are all going to make their appearance for the national team and this is the year that it will all finally happen!
BCCI addressing mental health and bubble-fatigue
Let’s be fair, this is something that we expected to happen but weren’t quite sure when it would explode. We saw a fair glimpse of it too towards the end of 2020 but 2021 is really going to be when the top brass of the Indian cricket board are going to address the elephant in the room - mental health and bubble-fatigue. With so many games bound to happen in the bubble, several players, including Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and the bowling unit, are going to get a refreshing rest. That also should ideally coincide with KL Rahul’s stint as the skipper of the national team - some sight, isn’t it?
India yet again bowing out in the semi-final of an ICC competition
Back to reality, doesn’t matter which year it is, India’s record in ICC competitions have hit a recent blur, so much that they haven’t won anything in the last six years. So to assume that India would once again not pick up the silverware wouldn’t be a tough call but they are going to play at home, which is why they would walk in the semi-final. Hopefully, it isn’t West Indies who inflict the damage upon them.
Aiden Markram made the Test skipper for South Africa
Finally, finally, it is going to be the year when Aiden ‘wonderboy’ Markram is going to be selected as the skipper of the Proteas side. Given that Quinton de Kock is just a short-term captain, the selection really is going to be between Dean Elgar and Markram to be the skipper of the Test side. With Elgar shying away from the duties earlier and Markram’s stint as the captain, albeit it being in the U-19 stage, South Africa should find their new skipper in the form of the right-handed opener.
Sreesanth to mark the year with his IPL return
“I have been getting inquiries for IPL, too, and I have to make sure that I am fit and bowling well,” said Sreesanth ahead of his return to the Kerala squad for the domestic T20 competition. Now given that he has been a man of his word in the past and has shown immense ability to shake up things and the rise from below, Sreesanth’s appearance in the SMAT would definitely determine whether teams would pick him in the IPL. Having already shown his ability to shake up batsmen in the previous editions of the IPL, Sreesanth should mark the year with an IPL return.
Chris Gayle’s inclusion - one last time in World cricket?
At the age of 41, several cricketers would have called it quits, would have been dressed merrily in a suit and would be yapping about their past in the commentary box but Gayle isn’t one of them. Gayle is still going and if you don’t believe that, just watch him tee up for KXIP in the IPL, one of the most pleasant sights of their campaign last season. Now Gayle has certainly shown that he is hungry, wants to prove things, so what better way than getting into the 20-man squad for the T20 World Cup and taking them home?
Women’s cricket withering away in India
Another start of the year, another woman's series cancelled because the host nation doesn’t have enough facilities to host the event. Now if that doesn’t define women’s cricket in the post-COVID-19 world, nothing better would. After the successful women’s T20 World Cup, where 85,000 fans at the ground and several million in front of their screens were screaming their lungs out for women's cricket, the end of the year wasn’t quite fruitful. Since COVID hit, we have witnessed a sub-standard Women’s T20 Challengers Trophy and with talks of WIPL subduing, this year might very well be BCCI putting Women’s cricket to the withers. But it shouldn’t be that way, this possibly was the ideal year for the board to host the Women’s IPL, full-fledged!