Year in Review

Sublime Lara and a hurrah for Murali

Brian Lara's sublime form and the cricket world's response following the tsunami

S Rajesh

Sourav Ganguly and Greg Chappell are talking, but we may not have heard the end of the saga © Getty Images

When Brian Lara walked out to bat in the first innings at Adelaide, he was hardly at the top of his game - his six Test innings that season in Australia had fetched a meagre 143 runs. With Lara, though, the journey from poor to sublime is often made in the course of a couple of hours. Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill were taken to the cleaners and early on the second day he tapped Glenn McGrath to long leg to go past Allan Border's record and become Test cricket's highest run-getter. The crowd rose to a man to applaud another outstanding feat from an outstanding batsman, and just for that moment, all was well with West Indian cricket.

The Sourav Ganguly-Greg Chappell spat brought in the open all that is wrong in Indian cricket: an email which was strictly confidential and addressed to the board president was conveniently leaked, and from there started a trial by the media, which got more and more ugly and threatened to divide the Indian team down the middle. Ironically, in the midst of so much going wrong off the field, the Indian team managed to string together some emphatic wins on it and climb the rungs of both the Test and the ODI rankings, but with Ganguly still vying for a place in the Test squad, the last word may not have been heard on this controversy.

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo

Charlie Austin

Ricky Ponting smashed a brilliant century in the Asian tsunami appeal match at the MCG © Getty Images

World cricket's response to the Asian tsunami was as swift as it was heart-warming. Galvanised by FICA, the world's player's association and supported by the ICC, the first World Cricket Tsunami Appeal match was played in Melbourne within just 15 days of the disaster, raising a total of £5.7m for emergency relief. Old rivalries were forgotten and new friendships were forged. When Muttiah Muralitharan, an aid-crusader back home Sri Lanka where he narrowly escaped the giant waves, was cheered to the crease by the same bellicose MCG crowds that have cruelly taunted him in the past you knew you were watching something special.

Great international sides are built on solid foundations - strong first-class systems, youth academies, fast bowling programmes, modern infrastructure, physiotherapy, sports medicine and biomechanical expertise. Back in April, though, Sri Lanka's players could only dream of such support systems as they prepared for their tour to New Zealand. Internal bickering within the cricket board, between a sacked elected committee and an incoming government-appointed interim committee, reached such farcical depths that practice balls could not even be organised for the national team's net sessions.

Charlie Austin is Cricinfo's Sri Lankan correspondent