2007 in review: Staffers' picks - 1 December 25, 2007

Good World Cup, bad World Cup

ESPNcricinfo staff
Cricinfo staffers pick the best and worst moments in cricket in 2007

Cricinfo's editorial team looks back at the highs and lows of the year in cricket.

The joy of giant-killing: Mushfiqur Rahim and Mohammad Ashraful seal the deal against India in the World Cup © AFP

Jayaditya Gupta

Best: Bangladesh beating India
One of the brightest spots in a desperate tournament. Bloated, overweight egos brought crashing down to earth by a bunch of spirited kids who seemed to be having fun. No long-term impact - Bangladesh would, after another spectacular win, over South Africa, return to their old ways and India would go on to win the World T20 - but it was fun, and re-affirming, while it lasted.

Worst: The death of Bob Woolmer
Not so much the death itself as the speed at which we jumped to conclusions: the near-universal consensus that it had something to do with match-fixing or cricket's dark side. It showed what we feel about the state of the game.

Jayaditya Gupta is executive editor of Cricinfo in India

Andrew McGlashan

Best: The World Twenty20
No other sport thinks it needs two World Cups in a year (or, to be precise, a World Cup and a World Championship) but the World Twenty20 bailed out what was shaping to be one of cricket's most depressing years. After all the criticism the ICC rightly received for the Caribbean chaos, it is only right that they are applauded (albeit not too loudly) for the event in South Africa.

It was completed in two weeks, peopled flocked through the gates, and there was electric cricket, culminating in a final that went to the penultimate ball. Even poor matches were over quickly.

Cricket South Africa should take huge plaudits for the organisation, ticket prices and atmosphere the tournament created. It was no surprise that Steve Elworthy, the tournament director, was appointed to the same role for the 2009 tournament in England. This was the year where Twenty20 earned its place at the top table. Now we just have to hope that greed doesn't ruin it.

Worst: English season rain
The County Championship went down to one of its closest finishes at The Oval in September, but for a couple of months in the middle of the summer the season was shaping to be a washout. English cricket fans aren't afraid of a little rain, especially when they are from the north, but the deluges of 2007 tore into the heart of midsummer.

Worcestershire's ground, New Road, was flooded twice and out of action from July onwards. This led to ugly scenes with Kent after their abandoned Championship match. The volume of rain meant that even when the sun came out, grounds were often unfit for play. The county game is not awash with money and many counties were left trying to scrape around to make ends meet. Many have not managed. Chief executives up and down the country will have one wish on their Christmas list: a dry season in 2008.

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer at Cricinfo

George Binoy

Bob Woolmer's death and the speculation surrounding it marked a new low for cricket © AFP

Best: India winning the World Twenty20
The "Big Three" had pulled out, their best fast bowler was injured, and the squad comprised players making a comeback to the national side and greenhorns yet to make an international impression. Few, including this writer, gave this bunch, led by a brand new captain, any chance against power-packed, athletic opposition such as Australia and South Africa. But Mahendra Singh Dhoni turned out to be an inspirational and charismatic captain; Yuvraj Singh treated bowling attacks mercilessly; Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Irfan Pathan made strong comebacks. Most refreshingly, the younger players infused energy, noticeably in the field, and helped forge an almost un-Indian body language to put India emphatically on the previously uncharted Twenty20 map.

Worst: The aftermath of the win
The celebrations that followed that victory, however, were grossly over the top and bordering on the vulgar. Television channels hailed India as World Champions and not World Twenty20 Champions, dozens of millions of rupees and a couple of cars were doled out, prompting leading athletes from other sports to protest at step-motherly treatment; and the politicians took centre stage at the ceremony held to honour the players in Mumbai.

Topping it all off was the ensuing country-wide obsession with youth, and the notion that introducing younger players into other formats was the solution to India's problems. The party came to an abrupt halt when the Australians showed India who the world champions were by winning the one-day series that followed 4-2.

George Binoy is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo

Jenny Thompson

Best: Women's Twenty20
England women's Twenty20 against New Zealand at Bath had it all. A thrilling finish to please a packed, but intimate, crowd; great batting from the wunderkind Sarah Taylor; and proof that the women's game lends itself superbly to Twenty20. While Tests can be painfully slow, the women have taken instantly to this form and things bode well should their World Twenty20, which has been approved pending budgetary ratification, sit alongside the men's in England in 2009.

Worst: Ramprakash getting short shrift
If the Twenty20 gave a glimpse of the future, the England selectors couldn't see beyond Mark Ramprakash's past. Firstly, they overlooked him for a recall for the summer series, then even though he topped 2000 runs for a second successive season and has long since proved his unflappability in front of millions when dancing live, he was put on standby for Sri Lanka. He may have had plenty of chances before but he's a different player now, and England have missed out.

Jenny Thompson is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Will Luke

Best: Ireland beating Pakistan
Ireland's win over Pakistan in the World Cup will forever be haunted and overshadowed by the tragic death of Bob Woolmer. But in isolation, and in the few cacophonous hours of celebrations afterwards, the victory justified the Associates' inclusion in a fatally flawed tournament. It lifted Ireland's profile to such a level that two books were spawned six months later. This was giant-killing in the extreme - no Duckworth-Lewis to trip Pakistan up here. When Trent Johnson mowed Azhar Mahmood over the top for six to complete the unimaginable, it stirred the tournament like no other match had even threatened to. For those few hours, before Woolmer's horrific demise was revealed, cricket was the victor in an otherwise forgettable few weeks.

Worst: The mismanagement of the World Cup
Looking back at the World Cup, the only vague emotion I get is one of embarrassment. How could cricket's "showcase event" possibly present itself in such a flawed, farcical manner? How could the authorities have been so clinically unreactive and downright selfish in their greed?

New Road goes under, again, in July © Worcestershire CCC

Most galling of all, most unforgivably, they wasted a golden opportunity to regenerate cricket in a region where interest in the sport has plummeted. Sky-high ticket prices locked out the locals. The traditional steel drums were banned (though the organising committee eventually relaxed their rules), as was alcohol. The region was overtaken by Gestapo-like officialdom, and the sport was horribly tarnished.

Will Luke is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Jamie Alter

Best: Yuvraj's six sixes
Yuvraj Singh strode out to the middle on September 19 and gave as good as he had got, and then some. Having been hit for five sixes in the final over of an ODI at The Oval earlier that month, Yuvraj extracted revenge with six sixes off Stuart Broad.

It was the cleanest hitting you will ever see. Breathtaking stuff. No slogs, all timing off the middle of the bat, with exceptional execution. Spurred by something Andrew Flintoff said to him, Yuvraj completed a perfect demolition job in unforgettable style. This was India's turning point in the championship.

Worst: Fredalo
He had been disciplined earlier in the year by the England management for his excessive drinking in Australia. At the World Cup, Andrew Flintoff went and drunkenly capsized a pedalo in St Lucia following England's defeat to New Zealand. Not for a second did Flintoff, the hero of Ashes 2005, the consummate team man and suchlike, pay heed to this position as vice-captain or his responsibility to his team, the World Cup, or to the game. He had to be rescued from sea - a great way to boost morale, eh? The English apparently don't think much of one-day cricket, but this was a bit too much.

Jamie Alter is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo