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Great sportsmanship, Tendulkar and India's final jinx

Cricinfo and Wisden writers select their best and worst moments from 2005


Sambit Bal

Two great sportsmen © Getty Images
The Ashes was full of glorious moments, but the one that will stay with me took place minutes after the best match of the series was over. Chasing 282 to win at Edgbaston, Australia had looked dead at 175 for 8, but Brett Lee forged two stirring partnerships with Shane Warne and Michael Kasprowicz, getting his team within two runs, when Steve Harmison got Kasprowicz to glove to the wicketkeeper. After a soul-sapping session, it was a euphoric moment. But while England gathered in wild celebration, Flintoff turned to the vanquished who had fought as fiercely and as valiantly as him. The sight of Flintoff besides Lee, who sat hunched on the pitch, wrecked by that moment, added the perfect finishing touch to a match which was already classic.
What can be worse than a man who has earned the right to be considered a sporting icon in his country to be forced in to hiding? Tatenda Taibu is a remarkable cricketer whose dignity and courage has kept Zimbabwe cricket alive in the face of unthinkable adversity. That he felt compelled to give up his international career robbed the Zimbabwe Cricket Union of the last trace of credibility. That he should have feared for his life should shame the world cricket community in to action.
Sambit Bal is editor of Cricinfo and Cricinfo Magazine

Jamie Alter

At last for Sachin Tendulkar, century No. 35 © Getty Images
Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar raising his eyes to the heavens - in respect to his deceased father - after breaking Sunil Gavaskar's record of 34 Test centuries. That Tendulkar seized the record from a his guru and a fellow Mumbaikar, that the knock came after a six-month delay in action, that it set India up for a critical 188-run win over the touring Sri Lankans was secondary. The moment was the most humane seen on a cricket field this year; a compelling, emotional, and a pure moment of respect so often forgotten on the battle field that is cricket these days. Tendulkar had reached a pinnacle and to see that his thoughts were with the man who guided him brought a tear to the eye.
New coach, new players, new season, new hope - same damning story. India's loss to New Zealand in the final of the Videocon Cup at Harare in September left a bad aftertaste in the mouth for the way in which the age-old chokers stuck to the same script. Sure, they scored 276, a total which can guarantee a side a win in most cases. But did anyone see how the many runs the last 10 overs produced? Yes, Nathan Astle played a gem of an innings, one that would make most batsmen proud. But there was little fight, less bite, and zero class in the way India bowled.
Jamie Alter is editorial assistant of Cricinfo