2023 has been a roller coaster ride for cricket fans throughout the world. The World Cup 2023, the Asia Cup and other tournaments offered by cricket enthusiasts go through a kaleidoscope of emotions. The astounding level of individual achievement surpassed expectations at times. The games were full of twists, turns and unexpected outcomes. Cricketing superstars like Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell, Travis Head, Mohammed Shami and others showed what this beautiful game is all about. It is an arduous task to pinpoint the exact moment that defined the year 2023 in cricketing terms. Here is an attempt to find out the top 20 moments of cricket prowess that transpired in 2023:
- Maxwell Goes Berserk Against the Afghans
Wankhede was waiting in silence with eager anticipation. Something grand was on the cards. As the surprise package of the World Cup, Afghanistan was on the verge of defeating the mighty Aussies. The crowd thought they were witnessing history. They weren’t wrong. But it happened in the most unexpected fashion. Australia lost their seventh wicket with the score at only 91. They still needed 201 more to snatch victory against their opponents, ready to pounce. The Australian skipper Patrck Cummins, came into the middle to join Glenn Maxwell. Then the tables turned.
The Afghan bowlers were helpless in front of an onslaught from the powerful Victorian. Maxwell was handicapped by a cramp, yet he survived 128 balls. The bombastic middle-order batsman hit 31 boundaries, of which 10 cleared the rope. Pat Cummins at the other end was calmness personified with 12 runs from more than 60 balls. Maxwell reached his double hundred with the last shot of the game, a massive six over midwicket that sent the whole of Australia to raptures. The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai witnessed arguably the best innings in ODI history, that too against adversity.
- Kohli Creates Century Record in Kolkata
Sachin Tendulkar seemed untouchable. The cricketing god from Mumbai set so many records throughout his career. Yet one boy from Delhi touched him. His name is Virat Kohli. The moment came against New Zealand in the semi-finals. The great Sachin was among the spectators that day. Kohli bowed to his idol in a touching tribute.
That innings of 117 propelled India forward and set the stage for a victory against the Kiwis. The innings was a juxtaposition of patience and aggression. There were classic Kohli cover drives, aggressive pull shots, and magnificent cut shots. The third century made by King Kohli against New Zealand surpassed the greatness of the previous two scored against Bangladesh and South Africa. Now 2024 awaits a new record ready to be set—the highest centuries by a batsman in the ODIs.
- Afghan Delights at the World Cup
Not long ago, Afghanistan languished in Division 3 of international cricket. During the last decade, the cricket world saw a meteoric rise of Afghans. The excellence culminated at the 2023 World Cup. Afghanistan recorded remarkable victories against former champion Pakistan and defending champion England.
Players like Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Rashid Khan, Hashmatullah Shahidi, and Mohammad Nabi showed their outstanding cricketing ability the world stage. Afghanistan may have barely missed out on the semi-final spots, but the indication was clear. These Afghans know how to compete against the greats of the world. On their day, they are capable of beating anyone and everyone, irrespective of the conditions.
- Time was Running Out for Matthews
In the 146 years of international cricket, Angelo Matthews became the first batsman to get timed out. This historic incident took place at the World Cup when Sri Lanka locked horns with Bangladesh during their penultimate game of their campaign. Troubles began for Angelo Matthews due to a faulty helmet strap causing a delay of more than two minutes. Bangladeshi captain Shakib Al Hasan seized the opportunity and appealed to the umpire. The on-field umpires had no option but to adjudge Matthews to bt timed out. The law clearly states that a new batsman should be equipped and ready to face the ball within two minutes after the previous one gets dismissed or retires for some reason. However, this incident divided opinions throughout the cricket world. It created a lot of backlash among the Lankans who were enraged by the lack of sportsmanship shown by Bangladeshi captain Shakib Al Hasan.
- Turning Heads at the WTC Final
Steve Smith was at his sublime best when he scored a stunning hundred against India at the Oval. But the best performance came from a South Australian who seemed to make the year his own. The flamboyant southpaw batter made 163 from 174 balls, dismantling the Indian bowling attack in the process. Head hit 25 fours and a six on his way to the highest ever individual score in the World Test Championship. The innings enabled Australia to pile up a huge total of 469 runs in their first innings. India were playing catch-up from that point on and eventually succumbed to a heavy defeat of 209 runs. The gong of the test champions went to the land down under for the first time in history.
- Superb Siraj is taking the Asia Cup by Storm
Mohammed Siraj wore boots for the first time when he was 19. The fact that he has represented the Indian Cricket Team as a late bloomer who did not have access to modern amenities is a feat by itself. But Siraj unleashed his wrath on the Sri Lankan batters in the Asia Cup final. In a demolishing seven over spell. Siraj picked up six wickets to stun the home crowd at the historic R. Premadasa Stadium. The demolition included the fourth over of the innings when Siraj picked up four wickets in six balls. Sri Lanka managed to accumulate a meagre 50 from 15.1 overs, with only Kusal Mendis and Dusan Hemantha managing to reach double figures. India stormed past the target within 37 balls with all 10 wickets to spare. It was a cakewalk for the Indians in the final made easy by the heroics of a Hyderabadi.
- Cricket to be Re-Introduced at the Olympics
The first and only time cricket was part of the Olympic games was back in the 1900 Paris Olympic Games. Only two teams competed at that event as Great Britain beat host France to claim the gold. After so much ebb and flow over the years, cricket will get its rightful place back at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games. The decision to include cricket was granted at the 141st session of the IOC in Mumbai. The first tournament of the modern era will have both men’s and women’s teams. A maximum of six teams would be allowed to participate in each of these events.
- Bishan Singh Bedi Passes Away
One of the prominent members of the famous Spin Quartet of India passed away on October 23, 2023. The slow left-arm orthodox is considered to be one of the spinners to represent Team India. The Punjabi born Punjabi-bornmed 266 wickets from 67 tests at an average of 28.71. He also captained the national side in 22 Tests. Bedi was one of the four members of the legendary spin quartet that dominated world cricket during the 1960s and 1970s. The other members of this group were Erapalli Prasanna, B.S. Chandrasekhar and S. Venkataraghavan.
- Uganda Reaches World Stage
Football is the national and most popular sport of the Republic of Uganda. Despite the large following, the football team has never been able to reach the World Cup stage. But the cricket team has achieved this feat before the footballers. Uganda was a force in the T-20 World Qualifiers. They won five of the six games including a historic win by wickets against a previous World Cup regular like Zimbabwe. Uganda will be the only 5th team from the African continent at the 2024 T20 World Cup scheduled to take place in the US and the Caribbean.
- West Indies Failing to Qualify for the 2023 ODI World Cup
The West Indies was undoubtedly the best cricket team in the world during the 1970s and 1980s. The Carribeans won the first two World Cup titles with relative ease. However, the turn of the century has not been kind to the once-proud cricketing nation. With the rise of T-20 franchises, most of the Windies players have become mercenaries ready to ignore the central contract. However, 2023 was the worst year for cricket lovers in that region. The team finished ninth on the list of qualifiers after their loss against Scotland. Only the top eight teams got the chance to qualify. So, the 13th edition of the World Cup started without the mighty West Indians.
- Head Silences the Wankhede Crowd
Travis Head broke his arm just before the World Cup while playing an ODI match in South Africa. The Adelaide native was sent straight back to his homeland for rehabilitation. Travis Head returned to the Australian side when his nation had already played six times at the World Cup. He made his World Cup debut memorable with a fantastic century against the Kiwis.
Head then went on to win the man of the match award against South Africa in the semi-final. But he had yet to hit the best form of the tournament. While chasing 240, Australia was reduced to 47/3. Travis Head then scored one of the best centuries in the World Cup century—a wonderful 137 from 120 balls. This century secured the sixth ODI World Cup for the Aussies and a man of the match award for Travis Head whose name will be etched in the history books till the end of time.
- Netherlands Topple South Africa for a Memorable WC Win
The Netherlands and South Africa share a lot of history due to colonial ties. At the picturesque Dharamshala Stadium, the men from Europe defeated their African counterparts by 38 runs. The game was reduced to 43 overs per side due to rain. The Dutch skipper Scott Edwards scored 78 runs off 69 balls.
The Netherlands posted a respectable total of 245 runs. In reply, only David Miller and Keshav Maharaj managed to score some runs as the Proteas fell well short of the target. Logan van Beek was the main man with the ball and picked up three wickets. It was only the third time the Dutch ended up as the victors at the World Cup stage.
- Usama Mir Dropping David Warner
David Warner likes to bat against Pakistan. He was given an early reprieve when Usama Mir dropped an easy chance to dismiss the Australian opener when the sides met at the 2023 World Cup. During the fifth over of the match, Shaheen Afridi pitched one short outside the off stump. The veteran southpaw opener tried to steer it towards the onside but only managed to get a top edge. The ball flew towards the mid-on region where Usama Mir just had to pouch the ball safely. But the leg spinner took his eye off the ball at the last minute and the ball spilled from his grasp. Warner was dropped just at the score of 10. He went on to score a ton. The opening stand between him and Mitch Marsh added 259 runs to the Australian total. Australia accumulated 369 runs from their 50 overs. Pakistan could have faced a much reduced target had Usama held on to his chance.
- Shami Dismissing Stokes in a Ten Ball Spectacle
England posed the worst title defense in the history of the ODI World Cup. The Three Lions only managed three wins and finished seventh on the table among ten teams. The defending champions locked horns with the hosts in Lucknow. After winning the toss and choosing the bat, India failed to make their mark on the game. Team India managed to score 229 runs in 50 overs. England started off well by racing to 30 within 4.4 overs. But eventually they suffered an almighty collapse that saw them lose by a huge margin of 100 runs. But the highlight of the game came in the sixth over of the English innings when Ben Stokes faced Mohammed Shami.
The hero of the last World Cup looked like a novice while facing a great craftsman like Mohammed Shami. There was a swing that made the ball move away from the left hander. Ben Stokes played and missed nine balls in a row. It was a part of an elaborate setup by the Indian pacer. Stokes expected the tenth delivery to move away, but it came sharply back in. The ball dismantled the stumps of great Englishmen and the packed gallery in Lucknow witnessed something magical coming out of the right hand of their local boy.
- Marnus the Supersub Once Again
Marnus Labuschagbe has been the crisis man for Australia on numerous occasions. The right-hand batsman became the first ever concussion sub in the history of Test cricket when he replaced the injured Steve Smith during the 2019 Ashes. Marnus Labuschagne was not selected in the initial XI of the 1st ODI between Australia and South Africa back in September. But Cameron Green was forced to retire after he was struck in the helmet by a vicious bouncer from Kagiso Rabada Australia triggered the concussion sub and Labuschagne took the field against the country of his birth.
Australia was chasing a target of 223 runs that featured a century from the skipper Temba Bavuma. Australia were reeling at 113 for 7 in the 17th over. Labuschagne formed a crucial partnership with Ashon Agar for the eighth wicket to see Australia through to victory. Labuschagne played an unbeaten innings with 80 runs. After not being picked up for the World Cup squad, Labuschagne crawled back to the team. The 30 year old played all the matches in India for a team that conquered the peak against India.
- Ravindra Avenges 2019 Final Defeat
Rachin Ravindra’s ancestors came from Bangalore. Ravindra made his ODI World Cup debut against reigning champions England in the World Cup opener. It was a big ask for the 23 year old who was promoted to the top of the order in the absence of talismanic Kane Willamson. But Ravindra played an innings that is matured beyond his mellow years against a hapless bowling attack. He hit 11 fours and 5 sixes in an innings of 123 from 96 deliveries. The 273 run stand between him and Conway made the chase a cakewalk for the Kiwis. Ravindra announced himself on the biggest stage with the most iconic manner possible and banished the lingering ghost of the last World Cup.
- Bangladesh Wins White Ball Game at NZ for the first time ever
Bangladesh recorded their first ever Test victory against New Zealand in 2022. The Kiwis played a three match ODI series against Bangladesh at home. After winning the first two matches, the New Zealanders crashed to defeat in the final ODI against the Asians. New Zealand managed to score only 98 after they were put to bat first at Napier. Young Bangladeshi pacers Shoriful Islam and Tanzim Hasan Shakib both claimed three wickets each. Soumya Sarker scored a wonderful century in the 2nd ODI and backed it up with a fantastic bowling performance. Bangladesh reached their target easily after just 91 deliveries with a loss of one wicket. It was a historic win for Bangladesh which suffered a horrible World Cup campaign in India.
- Bairstow Run Out Controversy
Jonny Bairstow looked bamboozled. But the Australians were celebrating. The umpires did not have any other option but to give him out. It was 5 of the second test at Lord’s in the 2023 Ashes series. England was batting in pursuit of a big target of 371 runs. Their skipper Ben Stokes was playing magnificently with Jonny Bairstow complementing from the other end. Cameron Green bowled the last ball of the 52nd over short and Bairstow left it.
Then the ball was gathered by Alex Carey standing behind the stumps. Bairstow then left his crease have a chat with his partner Stokes at the end of the over. Meanwhile, Carey hit the stumps with a throw and appealed to the umpire. The on-field umpire consulted the third umpire and Bairstow was adjudged to short of his crease. The incident infuriated the home crowd and English fans worldwide. The debate about “the spirit of cricket” came to the fore once again as cricket lovers engaged in a hot debate about the legitimacy of such a decision. However, England lost the game by 43 runs and Bairstow’s dismissal came at a crucial time for the Australians. The Australian Cricket Team was booed on numerous occasions after this controversial turn of events.
- Quickest T20 Fifty and Century Record Set by Nepal
Nepalese batsman Dipendra Singh Airee set a new record for the fastest fifty in T20 cricket when he scored a half century off just nine balls against Mongolia. They came in a group game at the Asian Games 2023 held in Hangzhou, Republic of China. Airee managed to score 52 runs from 10 deliveries with six consecutive sixes, five of those came in the 19th over of the game. Dipendra Singh Airee hit eight sixes in his innings altogether.
It was a day for records as Kushal Malla from the same team set a new record for the fewest balls played for a century in T20I cricket. The batsman took 34 balls to score his hundred, one less than the previous record held jointly by David Miller, Rohit Sharma and Sudesh Wickramasekara. Nepal also recorded the biggest margin of victory by runs (273) against their Asian counterparts.
- India Claiming Gold at Both Events at the Asian Games
India secured their first gold medal in both men’s and women’s events at the Asian Games 2023. The men’s team had a strong lineup thay featured players like Gaikwad, Sai Kishore, Jaiswal, Bishnoi, Sundar, Arshdeep among others. The final was not decided on the field though; rain spoiled Afghanistan’s rare shot at an Asian Games gold medal. Despite an early collapse, the Afghans amassed 112 runs from a total of 18.2 overs. The match was then interrupted by rain and it did not resume, much to the despair for the Afghan fans. India was declared the winner because of their superior ranking (1) than Afghanistan (10). India was able to win the event on the first attempt. The bronze medal went to Bangladesh.
2023 was a year that will be fondly remembered by cricket fans for its rollercoaster ride of emotions. The Australians won the World Cup in idiosyncratic fashion after suffering losses in the first two games. Kohli became the best player of the tournament despite missing out on the ultimate prize.There was joy, but there was also pain. There were controversial moments that caused heated arguments all over the cricket world. Nonetheless, we are looking forward to the start of another year filled with cricketing action as the superstars take the field in search of rewriting history.