Sachin Tendulkar masterclass
Sachin Tendulkar's magnificent batting form and an unsavoury
match-fixing scandal swirling around Pakistan provided the highs and
lows for Asian cricket in the year gone by.
Bangladesh's cricketers rounded off 2010 by winning their country's
first ever Asian Games gold medal, while a lop-sided calendar denied Sri
Lanka enough opportunities to showcase their Test match prowess.
But the last 12 months belonged to 37-year-old Tendulkar, the world's
leading run-getter, who rolled back the years to bat like the champion
he has always been.
The master tore South Africa's frontline attack to shreds in April to
hit one-day cricket's first double-century, and took the same form into
the traditional five-day format.
In the 12 Tests he played till November, Tendulkar rattled up 1,396
runs at an amazing average of 82.11 with six three-figure knocks,
including two double centuries against Sri Lanka and Australia.
He fell twice for 84 and 98, but with two Tests to follow in South
Africa before the year runs out, Tendulkar has a chance to build on his
record-setting 44 Test hundreds.
"I think people should just stop talking about the age factor," said
the man who has scored more runs and hundreds in both Test and one-day
cricket than any other batsman.
"If I can make double-centuries at 37, age does not really matter,
does it?. I don't count, I leave that to others. My job is to score runs
and help India win."
Tendulkar was adjudged the player of the year at the International
Cricket Council's annual awards function, the only surprise being he had
not won the honour before in his record-shattering career.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni's India won seven of their 12 Tests this year,
losing just two, to reaffirm their status as the number one side in the
ICC's official rankings ahead of second-placed South Africa.
Pakistani cricket hit a new low when the then captain Salman Butt,
and fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and teenager Mohammad Aamer, were accused
of spot-fixing during a tour of England earlier this year.
British tabloid, The News of the World, claimed that Aamer and Asif
bowled deliberate no-balls during the Oval Test, with Butt apparently
orchestrating the alleged fix.
The trio's future in the sport will be decided in January when they
appear before the ICC's three-man anti-corruption tribunal in the Qatari
capital of Doha.
Pakistan, forced to play abroad because of security concerns in their
troubled nation, lost six of their 10 Tests this year, but recorded two
impressive wins against Australia and England.
The ICC's strange 10-year Future Tours Program (FTP), which will be
overhauled from 2012, saw Sri Lanka play only six Tests this year -
three of them due to a last-minute arrangement with India.
Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara hoped the new FTP will be kinder
to his team.
"The players, especially the younger ones, want to prove themselves
in Test matches, but the opportunity is just not there," he said.
"We need regular home and away games."
Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan, 38, bowed out of Test cricket in
July with a record 800 wickets from 133 matches, but says he is
available for the one-day World Cup in February-April.
The prolific off-spinner, whose bent-arm action caused heartburn in
the cricket world even after the ICC cleared him, had 67 five-wicket
hauls and claimed 10 wickets in a match 22 times.
Mohammad Ashraful-led Bangladesh bagged the inaugural Twenty20 title
at the Asian Games in China in November, giving their nation its first
ever gold medal at the continental extravaganza. NEW DELHI, Friday (AFP)