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Friday, December 9, 2022

Cricket year in review: Racism, cancelled tours, the Kohli saga

England cricket shocked by racism revelations while Australia finally break T20 World Cup jinx.

A racism scandal rocked English cricket in a tumultuous end to the year, while Australia and New Zealand were crowned world champions in different formats and the fate of women’s cricket in Afghanistan was put in jeopardy after the Taliban’s return to power.

In testimony to a British parliamentary committee, an emotional Azeem Rafiq catalogued a culture of racism at Yorkshire cricket club which he said drove him to the brink of suicide.

“I lost my career to racism,” said Rafiq, who hopes his revelations would open the floodgates for fellow victims to come forward and share their stories.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) unveiled a 12-point action plan, including a review of the dressing-room culture, and said they will launch an anti-discrimination unit.

The fallout clouded England’s build-up to the Ashes and Joe Root’s men currently trail Australia 1-0 after a thumping nine-wicket defeat in the series opener.

Elsewhere, Australia shrugged off a horror build-up to claim the Twenty20 World Cup in the UAE, their first title in seven attempts at the shortest format’s global tournament.

Aaron Finch’s men peaked at just the right time to stun Pakistan in the semi-final and then roll over New Zealand in the Dubai final.

It was just the latest in a series of heartbreaks for New Zealand, who fell to a third defeat in four World Cup finals in six years.

But it was not all doom and gloom for the Kiwis though, with Kane Williamson’s team beating India in the final of the World Test Championship in Southampton earlier in the year.

India would later avenge that defeat by beating New Zealand in a two-Test series despite spinner Ajaz Patel claiming all 10 Indian wickets in an innings in Mumbai.

Virat Kohli stepped down as India’s 20-overs skipper after the T20 World Cup and then lost ODI captaincy too with Rohit Sharma taking over as their sole white-ball leader.

Kohli felt his removal was abrupt, a decision conveyed barely 90 minutes before selectors met on December 8 to pick the Test squad for South Africa.

A more tumultuous leadership change took place in Australia with Tim Paine stepping down as test captain after a “sexting” scandal and Pat Cummins taking charge ahead of the Ashes.

The Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) hopes of hosting more international matches on home soil suffered a body blow with New Zealand and England both pulling out of tours prior to the T20 World Cup.

PCB’s new chief Ramiz Raja alleged the country had been “used and binned” by the “Western bloc” but eventually won commitments from Australia and England to tour in 2022.

Across the border, Afghanistan cricket’s future was thrown in doubt after the country’s takeover by the Taliban in August. It prompted Cricket Australia to postpone a Test match against them until it had a clearer picture of the future of the women’s game in the strife-torn nation.

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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