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England's gold, Australia's fall, Pakistan's homecoming

A review of how England, Australia, Pakistan, West Indies, women's cricket, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka fared between 2010 and 2019

White-ball glory for England? Who'd a thunk?  •  IDI/Getty Images

White-ball glory for England? Who'd a thunk?  •  IDI/Getty Images

In part one of our team reviews, we look at how England, Australia, Pakistan, women's cricket, West Indies, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka fared over the decade Read part two here


by Andrew Miller
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.
Farewell to timid, antiquated, doomed-from-the-outset one-day campaigns. Hello to England's masterplan, a four-year bid for world white-ball domination, and a shot at a once-in-a-lifetime World Cup final at Lord's.
Farewell, in the process, to England's standards as a consistent and respected Test opponent. Farewell to three innings victories in four successive Tests in Australia in 2010-11, and the subsequent capturing of the ICC Test mace against India. Hello to Mitchell Johnson, hello darkness my old friend.
Farewell, in bitter acrimony, to Pietersen. Did we ever really know you? Thanks for the World T20 trophy, by the way...
Farewell Andy Flower, whose reign achieved rare glories but turned as sour as his eventual mood. Hello again Peter Moor… oh, gone so soon?
Hello to Trevor Bayliss and "positive" intent at all costs. Hello to a generation of white-ball batsmen whose "it's the way I play" swagger was eerily reminiscent of … nope, beats me.
Hello to a revolving-door Test top three (Alastair Cook excepted, of course, but farewell, in the end, to him too). Hello to a run of ten defeats and three draws in 13 overseas Tests.
Hello, at long last, to Eoin Morgan, six years an England regular, but from 2015 onwards, finally the supreme white-ball commander. Hello to the final to end all World Cup finals (except that it was never-ending). Hello to the vindication to end all vindications.
But now, farewell to all that as well, as the cycle begins again and those long-lost Test standards prepare for a reboot. Hello James Anderson and Stuart Broad. The floor is again yours to do what you've been doing for the past 12 years and counting.
High point
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.
Low point
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.
Tests: P125, W57, L45, D23
ODIs: P218, W123, L82, T4, NR9
T20Is: P91, W47, L39, T2, NR3


by Daniel Brettig
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.
These results brought changes - Ricky Ponting to Michael Clarke, the Argus review - but the team's fortunes remained topsy-turvy. They bottomed out with nine consecutive Tests without a win in 2013 in India and England, either side of Mickey Arthur's replacement by Darren Lehmann. The comeback that followed was furious, with another Ashes sweep at home and then a thrilling away defeat of a strong South Africa.
But after Pakistan exposed plenty of flaws in the UAE, the game was rocked by the death of Phillip Hughes - an event the team did extraordinarily well to deal with. Australia then lifted the World Cup at home in early 2015. More Ashes pain abroad brought a raft of retirements, and a younger team, led by Steven Smith, continued to perform far better at home than away. Regaining the Ashes in 2017-18 took place in a somewhat sour series, before the Newlands scandal laid bare the rot at the heart of the national team's culture, which had its origins in the broader approach of Cricket Australia.
Duly chastened, a fresh outlook brought slow, steady improvement, and a team coached by Justin Langer and led by Aaron Finch and Tim Paine managed both to contend for the World Cup in England and then bring the Ashes home. This all took place while the Big Bash League sprouted and grew to fundamentally change the landscape of the game down under.
High point
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.
Low point
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."
Tests: P111, W56, L38, D17
ODIs: P216, W125, L79, T1, NR11
T20Is: P98, W54, L40, T2, NR2


by Danyal Rasool
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.
At rock bottom, though, Pakistan found an anchor in Misbah-ul-Haq, who led them not just to stability but prosperity. They would reach the top of the Test rankings six years later, and under Sarfaraz Ahmed repeat the feat in T20Is. A glorious Champions Trophy win over India was the jewel in the crown, but over the final three years of the 2010s much of the good work has been undone, and Pakistan have taken their place in the relative mediocrity of the lower-mid region of the table. Ten years ago, though, they would have snapped your hand off for suggesting they might end the decade like this.
High point
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.
Low point
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.
Tests: P83, W33, L37, D13
ODIs: P217, W104, L106, T2, NR5
T20Is: P122, W69, L50, T2, NR1

Women's cricket

by Annesha Ghosh
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.
The ICC Women's Championship (IWC) added more context to ODIs and certainty to the calendar of the top eight teams, with direct qualification for the 50-over World Cup up for grabs.
Team-wise, Australia led on most fronts, winning five world titles and the inaugural IWC. The Women's Big Bash League, branded identically to its men's equivalent and rolled out in 2015, paved the way for the ECB to come up with the Kia Super League in 2016, and for the BCCI - if belatedly and reluctantly - to take a first, decisive step towards a women's IPL with an exhibition match in 2018.
Increased television coverage, better marketing from the ICC, and social-media innovations helped the 2017 World Cup achieve a record global reach. The first standalone T20 World Cup a year later summarised the evolution of power-hitting in the women's game.
High point
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.
Low point
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

By Nagraj Gollapudi
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.
Strangely then, West Indies will finish the decade ranked No. 10 in T20Is. In ODIs they are ninth, and in Tests seventh; and it was in Tests that West Indies achieved significant progress in the 2010s: against England at home, they drew 1-1 in 2015 and beat them 2-1 in 2018-19. They won a thrilling Test at Headingley in 2017, and beat Pakistan in a Test in the UAE in 2016-17.
Caribbean fans can hope for a bright future. They have multiple match-winners now: batsmen Shai Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite, and captain Jason Holder, who has grown into an able leader and will finish as one of the decade's best Test allrounders.
The challenge now for West Indies is to attain stability.
High point
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.
Low point
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.
Tests: P83, W22, L43, D18
ODIs: P196, W69, L114, T5, NR8
T20Is: P101, W43, L53, T1, NR4


by Firdose Moonda
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.
High point
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.
Low point
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.
Tests: P24, W4, L19, D1
ODIs: P159, W44, L111, T2, NR2
T20Is: P67, W16, L50, T1

Sri Lanka

by Andrew Fidel Fernando
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.
On the limited-overs front, Sri Lanka entered the decade as one of the strongest and most consistent teams, reaching the 2011 ODI World Cup final and the 2012 World T20 final, before going on to win the 2014 World T20. They end the decade a mediocre white-ball outfit - an aged but fiery Lasith Malinga is seemingly all that separates them from full-blown freefall.
The domestic cricket system is outdated in the extreme. The board is worse than ever.
High point
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.
Low point
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.
Tests: P95, W31, L40, D24
ODIs: P256, W113, L127, T2, NR14
T20s: P98, W44, L51, T2, NR1
More in the decade in review, 2010-19