Farewell, Andrew Strauss, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell and Graeme Swann. Hello, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Jason Roy and Jofra Archer. Farewell to Test cricket as England's only true love. Hello to a brave new world of white-ball glory.
Roy's shy, Buttler's gather, England's World Cup! With apologies to England's triumph in Australia in 2010-11, and the defeat of India the following summer that sealed their No. 1 status, the rags-to-riches rise of the ODI team was the decade's most extraordinary narrative arc.
The 2015 World Cup was the most emblematic embarrassment of the decade, but the true nadir had come some 12 months earlier. As if a 5-0 Ashes thrashing wasn't bad enough, the subsequent blame game (with Kevin Pietersen front and centre) showed English cricket at its prickly, thin-skinned and dysfunctional worst.
The title of the Powderfinger song "Up and Down and Back Again" is an apt descriptor for Australia's decade. They began it having lost the Ashes won so decisively at home in 2006-07, and would lose them again in humiliating circumstances at home in 2010-11, before also ceding their ODI World Cup title to India.
There were many home successes over the decade, which made rare overseas victories all the more worth savouring. The peaks came in the 2014 defeat of the Proteas on South African soil at a time when they boasted the world's best Test side, and then with the 2019 retention of the Ashes, an achievement all the greater for the trials that had preceded it.
For all the humiliations that surrounded the Newlands scandal and its aftermath, the death of Phillip Hughes was the most awful episode of Australian cricket's decade. The loss of a talent so bright, just as he seemed about to mature into a Test batsman of high class, hit everyone hard, and is still a source of anguish five years later. As Steven Smith put it after his eerily similar blow to the neck during this year's Lord's Test: "My first thought was, I got hit in a pretty similar place to where Hughesy got hit, and I was like, 'I'm okay' - it's not fair in a way."
One look at how Pakistan started the decade and the mere fact they are still in the conversation at the table of Full Member nations feels incredible. They entered the 2010s homeless because of a terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, and now end it hosting the Sri Lankans at home once more. The Sydney Test to kick-start the decade was inauspicious, and the bans for spot-fixing for Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif disastrous.
Easy choice. Barely eligible to qualify for the Champions Trophy, they rode their luck to the final, where India awaited them. Pakistan would roll back the years, India powerless in the face of a tidal wave of emotion and blinding brilliance. It's obviously a one-off, and all the more special for it.
The Lord's spot-fixing scandal that saw their captain and two best bowlers go to jail and be banned for five years. Pakistan's ability to resurface may be exemplary, but that shame and its consequences still hurt both its cricket and its soul.
In the 2010s, women's cricket made a belated leap into the future. A shift from part-time to full-time professionalism and the birth of full-fledged T20 leagues headlined a time of extraordinary change in the women's game.
In 2013, Cricket Australia raised the annual central-contract wages to an amount resembling full-time pay for any top female athlete in the country. By 2015, all Full Member countries, India the last of them, had implemented full-time contracts for their women's cricketers. Ireland completed the move away from amateurism among the top ten nations by awarding part-time central contracts for the first time in May 2019.
The ICC's focus on promoting the women's game primarily through T20Is sacrificed Tests at the altar of what most boards called "financial non-viability". Only eight women's Tests were played in the 2010s - the least in the past five decades - and only two of those outside of Ashes series, raising serious concerns over the future of the format.
West Indies cricket achieved redemption this decade after staring down the barrel in the first ten years of the 21st century. A highly bitter and toxic relationship with the cricket administration, which has been that way for over two decades, might have forced many Caribbean players to pick playing in various T20 leagues rather than for the region, but those very men came together to help West Indies become the only team to win the T20 world title twice.
The first one was in 2012, when Marlon Samuels' masterful innings led West Indies to the World T20 title against hosts Sri Lanka. Four years later, on a humid evening at Eden Gardens, Samuels danced bare-chested while the usually mellow Ian Bishop bellowed emotionally on air after Carlos Brathwaite hit four consecutive sixes in the final over to win the title for a second time.
The two-time T20 World Cup winners faced the embarrassment of being forced to play the 50-over Qualifiers to earn the right to participate in the 2019 World Cup. It proved they had barely improved in the format since the 2015 World Cup, where they had been defeated by Ireland. But the biggest embarrassment was the walkout by Dwayne Bravo's team mid-way into the 2014 tour of India after a spiteful dispute between the players and the West Indies cricket administration of Dave Cameron.
This was the decade when the impact of Zimbabwe's financial and political crises was most keenly felt in cricket circles. A six-year self-imposed exile from Test cricket for the team ended in August 2011, with victory over Bangladesh in Harare followed by home series against Pakistan and New Zealand. But the costs of hosting were too high and Zimbabwe played only 11 more home Tests in the decade and ten away. They had poor World Cups in 2011 and 2015, and failed to qualify for the 2019 one as well as for the main draws of the 2014 and 2016 T20 World Cups. They also went through several coaches and suffered a player drain. Zimbabwe now enter the 2020s having lost ground to Namibia as Africa's second team.
Beating Bangladesh in their comeback Test and registering an away win in Sylhet - only the third in their history and first in 17 years - come close, but the zenith was their 3-2 ODI series win over Sri Lanka in 2017. The series started with Zimbabwe completing a record chase of 317 in Galle and ended with them winning a decider with 11 overs to spare. It proved their potential sometimes pays off, and what fun it can be when it does.
Their three-run defeat to UAE, chasing a modest 230 in 40 overs, denied them a place in the 2019 World Cup - their first absence from the event since 1983. If that wasn't bad enough, Zimbabwe incurred an ICC suspension in July 2019, and although it was lifted in October, it was too late for them to play in the qualifiers for the 2020 T20 World Cup.
A whole slew of greats retired - Muttiah Muralitharan, Mahela Jayawardene, TM Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara and Rangana Herath. The younger crop have since struggled to replace them. And yet, there have been some dazzling successes in recent years, the likes of which evaded even Sri Lanka's finest-ever players in the past. There was the 3-0 demolition of Australia at home in 2016, and flabbergastingly, a 2-0 victory over South Africa in South Africa in 2019 by what appeared to be one of the weakest Sri Lanka teams to ever tour that country. In between, there were bruising failures, such as a home drubbing at the hands of England, and an abysmal tour of Australia as well.
Although the Test series wins in England (2014) and South Africa were sensational, no win meant more to the nation than the 2014 T20 World Cup, which sparked a three-day party in Colombo.
Sri Lanka had an abysmal 2017, when they lost seven Tests and won only four, lost 23 ODIs and won only five, and lost ten of the 15 T20s they played. An ICC investigation into corruption in the country's cricket was announced that year, one that would ultimately lead to a two-year ban for Sanath Jayasuriya.