SSpending a fortnight locked up in a quarantine hotel with a 10-month-old, as I learned in Perth this month, can inspire a host of bizarre decisions. For me, this included rereading the first editions of this column. And before I continue, yes, I am well aware that it was this type of behavior that made me so popular in high school. But everything was with one purpose in mind: to write this end-of-year reflection, with the aim of finding out the origin of The turn Annual Awards – Inventively Titled … The twists.
Of course, it was Lawrence Booth who started this newsletter: cricket’s response to The five – in time for the 2002-03 ashes of England to be hidden. At the end of next summer at home, awards season arrived, transforming into a Christmas stocking filler in late 2004. From there it was a practical “exit clause”, to quote the now-Wisden supreme – when there wasn’t much else. By the time Andy Bull was in the tools, most of the time it was rebranded Test XI of the year, others occasionally flirting with the satirical style before the end of an English season. Given the chaotic time 2020 has been, I feel compelled to follow suit.
The Broken Bubble – Jofra Archer. Instead, let’s think of this as the prize for showing the government for the hypocritical cowards that they are. Just a few weeks after Dominic Cummings claimed he did nothing wrong by driving to Barnard Castle for an eyesight test, Archer immediately admitted guilt for going home for an hour to see his dog on the way to Manchester and went duly punished with a week’s arrest at the hotel and the second Trial against the West Indies was missed.
The Brouhaha Selection – Stuart Broad. In a year of U-turns, England’s direct shutdown instantly got on with the vibe. After being eliminated from the first test of the summer despite being his country’s most outstanding bowler in the winter, he didn’t even wait until the end of the match to express his deep disappointment, offering a masterclass in passive aggression. Immediately recovered after the defeat, he proceeded to explode not only on the ICC bowling rankings, but on the off-road charts as well. Naturally, Joe Root’s team did not lose another test.
The Backscratcher – Cricket South Africa. During the most trying year most athletic administrators will face, and it’s hard to expect great things from an organization that started the year with big recent losses and a CEO audited for financial misconduct. But still, CSA pulled off a show of ineptitude that was spectacular enough to stand out, requiring more words than I can justify. Then when they tried a biosecurity bubble in a country that was carrying a million Covid infections, it burst and England went home.
The farewell to Afridi – Mohammad Amir. This is still a developing story with the fast pakistan last week, just 28 years old, unpinning all of international cricket on the grounds that his omissions from the team have left him “mentally tortured.” As we know, the left arm sprinter has been through a lot, now including two varieties of international retirement in two years. He started young so it’s nice to see he’s arriving early chasing Shahid Afridi’s record for most starts. As for Boom Boom? At 40 (or so), he now leads a franchise in Sri Lanka’s new T20 league! Be still, beating heart.
The So-Close Somerset – New Zealand. The award for finishing second when glory looms goes to the Black Caps who missed their chance to take first place in ICC test cricket for the first time. This was despite being told that a victory in Wellington against the West Indies would bring them to number 1. Unfortunately, those who provided the information had not calculated the numbers correctly, with Australia still ahead, 116,461 to 116,375. Minimum margins, anyone? Oh, and the 2020 Bob Willis Trophy runners-up were inevitably Somerset.
Postponement of the decision System: women’s cricket. Consider how many men’s commitments have been fulfilled during the crisis. Sadly, women were not so lucky, the most egregious example when the 2021 World Cup, scheduled for New Zealand in February, a virtually Covid-free country, was postponed until 2022 to the dismay of many, including Heather Knight. At least the MCG was packed for the T20 women’s final, days before the world turned in March, when Katy Perry won the Lou Bega Panama Hat for best cricket / pop crossover.
The Conker – Boris Johnson. The cricket ball has many nicknames and this year there was a new addition to the lexicon when the prime minister used a euphemism to explain why our game would not be allowed to return locally at the same time as gyms and pubs, introducing the “vector of the illness”. It made as much sense as when he insisted that afternoon tea was another factor in the decision when the teams had already agreed to go out onto the field without using the club rooms. The twist on this came months later, when the Sussex Cricket League voted to ditch their lunch break. Indeed, that vote was annulled only two weeks later. I have no complaints here.
The intervention in social networks – Monty Panesar. No concise paragraph will be able to adequately capture the majesty of the former English roulette video output. From lockdown workouts lifting your couch and squatting with your dog, to Brexit vox pops and US presidential endorsements, seeing is believing.
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