Fighting back against the trolls - highlights of 2015
And so another year passes - a year of excellent progression for Alastair Cook, Eoin Morgan and their respective teams. After the debacle of the World Cup, I suspect we all thought an 'annus horribilis' awaited us as we headed into an ashes summer. We couldn't have been more wrong. There have been some bumps along the way and yes, we know we need to be more consistent, but 2015 turned into a year full of wonderful memories for an England cricket supporter, culminating in last week's outstanding win in Durban - so much so, it must have made Piers Morgan's blood boil.
But, if you could bottle up ten top highlights of 2015, what would they be? I posed the question on the Addis Facebook page (have you 'liked' us yet?) and we had lots of messages sent to us, so after a tally up, here's the top 10:
10. Joe Root's century at Cardiff
The summer could have been so different if Brad Haddin would have held on to that catch before Rooty had got off the mark. If he had, we would have been 43 for 4 on that first morning, but down it went and Rooty went on to score a magnificent 134 and laid the foundations for England's first Test victory. It was an innings that laid to rest the ghosts of the 5-0 whitewash, our batsmen realised, runs could be scored against this Australian attack.
9. Ben Stokes' Trent Bridge catch
Everyone remembers 'that' morning and Stuart Broad rightly gets the plaudits (more of that later), but what an amazing catch by Ben Stokes to remove Adam Voges to reduce the Aussies to 21 for 5 and bring about the famous Stuart Broad hands over the face celebration!
8. Andrew Strauss appointment as Director of England cricket
After a poor showing at the World Cup and the whole KP fiasco, what we all desperately needed was change: change at the top, clarity and a change of approach. Who better, than one of our most successful captains in recent years. Whether people agreed with the decision or not (I did), Strauss brought clarity to the KP debacle, especially after Colin Graves' ill-timed comments. His appointment of Trevor Bayliss was shrewd, especially when many thought Dizzy Gillespie would be the best choice. Similar to his captaincy, he made tough decisions. Peter Moores, Kevin Pietersen and Piers Morgan may not have agreed with them, but boy have all of those decisions been proven right. The ECB often get criticised, but this was an appointment that was spot on.
7. Jos Buttler's ODI century against Pakistan
After a poor showing with the bat in the Test series in the UAE, Buttler bounced back in style with a stunning 46 ball hundred in the ODI series - the joint seventh fastest century in ODI cricket. In total, Buttler smashed 10 fours and eight sixes as he eventually scored 116 runs from just 52 balls.
6. England's 408 against New Zealand in the summer's ODI series
After the World Cup fiasco, Andrew Strauss and Eoin Morgan promised a new, fresh approach to white ball cricket and in their first outing they certainly delivered on their promise: 408 runs, centuries for Buttler and Root and a record 210 run victory over World Cup finalists New Zealand. Wow.
5. Jimmy Anderson becomes England's all time leading Test wicket taker
On the occasion of his 100th Test, Jimmy equaled Beefy's record by removing Marlon Samuels, but an edge by Dinesh Ramdin to Alastair Cook in the slips, not long after, secured the record for Jimmy. What a record, what a bowler, what a man, so many memories because of this guy. Love him to pieces.
4. Alastair Cook's hundred in the West Indies
After almost two years without a Test century, what a moment it was when our captain managed to again reach three figures. After all of the ridiculous social media abuse from certain individuals, which at times crossed the boundary in terms of personal abuse, Cooky got back to hitting hundreds. Cooky is now our all time leading run scorer in Test cricket and that's for a reason, because he's a damn good player and we're very, very lucky to have him. All genuine England fans were delighted when he reached this ton. An absolute highlight of 2015.
3. England's day 5 Test win against New Zealand at Lords
This was the day everything 'clicked' for England and gave us all optimism for the summer. In front of a packed day 5 crowd at Lords, Ben Stokes inspired us to victory. Having been 30/4 in the first innings and then conceding a 134 first innings deficit, England bounced back in style. Personally, this day 5 was the best atmosphere I've ever experienced at Lords as the home of cricket threw its doors open with £20 tickets on a hot bank holiday Monday.
2. Australia skittled for 60 at Trent Bridge
Oh Stuart Broad, you're better than your dad. What a first session of Test cricket as Australia were bowled out for 60, in just 18.3 overs. Stuart Broad's astonishing 8 wicket haul, all but put the Ashes back in English hands. As an England fan has there ever been a better first session of Test cricket? Michael Clarke was desperate to bowl that morning and he definitely got his wish!
1. Alastair Cook lifts the magic urn
Redemption! At the start of the summer to win the Ashes in such style was beyond our wildest dreams and seeing Cook lift the urn aloft was a magical moment and was without doubt the absolute highlight of 2015!
So there it is 10 great highlights! The exciting thing for me was there were are at least another 10 highlights that could so easily have made this list. Yes, the year had some bumps, but we have the foundations of an excellent young side in all formats of the game. Some people are still intent on upsetting the apple cart but I think many more will agree with me, than disagree, that this young side has moved on, and is progressing nicely and in Andrew Strauss, Trevor Bayliss, Alastair Cook and Eoin Morgan we are in very good hands.
One person (we all know who) tweeted that Andrew Strauss committed career suicide earlier this year, with some of his early decisions in his new role, looking at the above highlights, I for one, beg to differ.
Happy New Year.