They said it
Passion has been matched by palaver in 2005, both in the middle and on the margins. Cricinfo looks back at some of the year's best quotes: the hilarious, the more serious and the downright stupid.
"I think I was saying 3-0 or 4-0 about 12 months ago, thinking there might be a bit of rain around. But with the weather as it is at the moment, I have to say 5-0."
Glenn McGrath was cocksure that the Ashes would mean just another England thrashing.
"It's down to 3-1 at the moment!"
McGrath revises his scoreline after England edge home in the Edgbaston thriller.
"When I came off, I actually asked the boys what it's like to get out in this series. I have been into Ricky [Ponting] again today to say I need to be moved up the order."
At last McGrath, the world's most renowned No.11, sees a silver lining in the gathering gloom - his own batting prowess.
Whinge of the year and its close second
"I think it is an absolute disgrace the spirit of the game is being treated like that. [Duncan] Fletcher has known right the way through the summer this is something we haven't been happy with, but it's continued. He knows it's something that has got under our skins and I've had enough of it, and I let him know that, and most of his players too. Being here in England they've obviously got the resources to just draft in the best fieldsmen that they possibly can at the time. The way they've been doing it is just before their bowlers are about to bowl they'll send them off for a short amount of time to have a bit of a loosen-up and a massage and that sort of stuff, and come back on and bowl. As soon as they've finished their spell they'll do exactly the same thing. It's within the rules of the game but it's just not within the spirit of the game, which is what we're all trying to uphold."
Ricky Ponting vents his frustration after Gary Pratt, a substitute fielder, ran him out during the Ashes.
|Legends in their own lifetime will soon have to become legends in their own lunchtime.|
"You want to take a run to a cover fielder and get run out, whose fault is that? You know what's more? All the palaver caused me to burn my toast."
Duncan Fletcher can't be bothered to take Ponting's rant seriously.
"It's been a tough tour mentally .... We've been stuck in hotels and mentally it's got to the team a little bit."
Fletcher conjures up cabin-fever as the reason for England's drubbing in Pakistan: a performance-affecting affliction caused by staying in luxury hotels with nothing to do.
Secrets behind the successes ... and the odd failure
"A bloke's bowling at 150kmh trying to rip the fingers off your arms or probably even worse. It gets your blood going and the adrenalin pumping. You are in a fight. And to me that's what Test cricket is all about."
Justin Langer on why Shoaib Akhtar gets him going.
"At tea-time he [Makhaya Ntini] seemed dull and out of it so I put him in an ice bath and it really made him mad ... he abused me and I said to the other bowlers they had to perform after tea or they would also need to cool off."
Ray Jennings shares a secret. Perhaps other coaches are listening.
"I only had papayas, nothing else."
Mahendra Singh Dhoni reveals his morning diet, after bashing 148 off just 123 balls against Pakistan in the one-day international at Visakhapatnam.
"I've shifted to milkshakes, but I ensure that I get my daily quota."
And that includes, though Dhoni wouldn't confirm, a litre of buffalo milk! Oops.
"Somebody told him to have spinach all the time, so he loves spinach and wherever he goes, he says spinach should be part of the diet, in Pakistan particularly. His team-mates tease him and call him Popeye the sailor man."
Zakir Khan, the PCB operations manager, on Abdul Razzaq's odd diet, which doctors believe led to his collapse during the Melbourne Test.
"I think I must be allergic to my passport."
Steve Harmison explains his homesickness after a woeful tour of South Africa.
Best left unsaid
"Quidditch is a wildly exciting, cricket-type game that is an obsession with many in the wizarding world, including Harry and Ron."
A journalist with the Toledo Blade, an American newspaper, gets her sports mixed up while explaining Harry Potter to American readers.
|At one stage I had to sit in with a lawyer and prove I could understand English. Seriously, mate. He sat there and said, 'I'm a bit embarrassed about this, but I need to know you understand English and can speak it properly.' I said, 'You are joking.' So he asked me where I was born and I said 'Brisbane'. He seemed happy that I understood the question.|
"I definitely believe if any of our batsmen get out to Giles in the Tests they should go and hang themselves. But I'm confident that won't happen."
Thankfully, the Australians didn't listen to Terry Alderman, the former Australian swing bowler, or it would been a busy season at the coroner's.
"He said I looked like Tarzan, and wondered how I could bowl fast looking like that."
Shoaib Akhtar reveals how Andrew Flintoff unwittingly caused a transformation with a stray comment during the Super Series. Shoaib went on to wreck England on their tour of Pakistan in December.
"It's a catch-21 situation."
Kevin Pietersen proves why he is such an adept at dropping much besides the red cherry.
"My dad is 70, my mother is 60. The chances of another Kapil are close to zero."
Will India see another Kapil Dev? The man himself doesn't think so.
"Morning Geraint, how are you?"
A Sky News reporter demonstrates the depth of his new-found love of cricket, as he greets Paul Collingwood on the morning of the third day at The Oval
"How can you tell your wife you are just popping out to play a match and then not come back for five days?"
Rafael Benitez, manager of Liverpool FC, just doesn't get it.
"Freddie is a big unit and likes to get very animated when he is appealing, which puts extra duress on the crotch area of his trousers."
Andrew Flintoff's trouser manufacturer explains why the great man has a thing for seam.
No love lost
"[Greg] Chappell and [Sourav] Ganguly make Raymond Illingworth and myself seem like lovers in comparison."
Michael Atherton puts the Ganguly-Chappell affair in perspective.
"He is invariably at a loss for words when he talks about cricket because he just doesn't know a thing about the game. No wonder, he pronounces it as `kirkit' or `krikate' and fortunately he doesn't have to spell it."
Raj Singh Dungarpur tells us why he thinks Jagmohan Dalmiya isn't India's right man for the job
|Daryl Harper - hopeless ... Billy Bowden - a showpony ... Steve Bucknor - past his sell-by date.|
"This is not a joke, so just shut up."
John Wright cracks the whip as Shoaib Akhtar interrupts him during a team meeting during the Super Series.
"If they had scored as many runs as they had women's phone numbers during the tour, West Indies would have won the series comfortably."
In a memo to his company chairman, Richard Nowell, the representative of West Indies' sponsors, Digicel, slams the team's attitude during their tour of Australia.
"Little was more ridiculous than the shouts of 'easy, easy' from the self-styled Barmy Army towards the end. They had chanted themselves hoarse for much of the last two hours. Why the countries they invade are too polite to tell them the truth, heaven knows. Worthy souls dwell among them, no doubt. As a group, they too often demean English cricket. As Betjeman prayed of Slough: come friendly bombs and fall on them. Water bombs will do."
Christopher Martin-Jenkins loses patience with the Barmy Army in The Times after the South African series.
"Cricket is a foreign game played in white flannels ... it is not our game, wrestling is. In fact, cricket should not be played at all. What baffles me is why Indians are so bothered about watching cricket."
Mulayam Singh Yadav, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India's largest state, begs to differ with millions of his countrymen.
"It beats Monday morning at Chelmsford - all tea and Pimm's. The amount of times Steve Waugh said to me: 'Enjoy it Nasser, this is your last Test. We will never see you again.'"
Nasser Hussain on what proper sledging is really like - Aussie style.
"I'll walk you to the changing room. What are you averaging? You must know your average? 9? 10? Maybe 9.5, so we'll give you 10."
Mark Boucher prepares for the tour of Australia by perfecting the art on Tatenda Taibu.
|If I was on 99 and at the other end and you got out, I'd hit you with my bat.|
"He must enjoy playing cricket ... by the end of most games he can't have any match fee left. There's aggression and aggression, but when it happens every ball it just gets boring."
Ian Botham tires of Andre Nel's on-field antics.
"Can't bat, can't bowl, can't field. Famously, they said that about the last England side to win the Ashes. Now they are saying it about me."
Ashley Giles turns it on himself after a dismal showing at Lords.
ICC and its priorities
"We are confident that our twin objectives of meeting event revenue targets and achieving maximum global audience reach will be met."
Malcolm Speed, the ICC chief executive, talking about the Super Series ...never mind runs and wickets, it's dollars that seem to be the driving force.
"A player hesitates over a decision on TV and gets fined, or has a bat logo too large and gets the same treatment. A whole nation's cricket fraternity is about to collapse, and because of some weird rule in the constitution, it cannot get involved."
Henry Olonga on the (in)action of the ICC over Zimbabwe's internal battle.
|Every demagogue in town has vented his spleen. Every Tom, Dick and Soumitra has voiced an opinion|
"They do nothing about blokes chucking, they do nothing about all this other stuff, they are more worried about words, that is all they are, full of words the ICC. They always look like they are doing something but they do nothing. They are the biggest bullshitters in the world. What a waste of space."
Jeff Thomson, former Aussie paceman, takes a bazooka at cricket's bosses.
"Anyone who believes President Robert Mugabe will lose sleep over New Zealand not coming to Zimbabwe might as well believe he is not his son's mother or her mother's daughter."
An editorial in the Zimbabwe Independent does a reality check.
Tomorrow: Virtual anarchy in Zimbabwe