Alright, it's that time of the year! The Covid-19 pandemic eased down a bit and we got to witness a lot more international cricket in 2021. There was not much focus on the 50-over format but we had the big finale of the inaugural edition of the World Test Championship in Southampton. On top of that, we also saw Australia win their maiden T20 World Cup. The likes of India, New Zealand, Australia and Pakistan played some outstanding cricket in 2021, while England, West Indies and Bangladesh didn’t have a great year. So, here’s how all the Full Member nations fared in 2021:
Tests - Matches 13 | Won 7 | Lost 3 | Drawn 3
ODIs - Matches 6 | Won 4 | Lost 2
T20Is - Matches 16 | Won 10 | Lost 6
One more year without an ICC trophy! The Men in Blue played some outstanding cricket throughout the year but once again failed to get their hands on much-awaited silverware. Virat Kohli and Co. were outclassed by New Zealand in the finale of the inaugural edition of the World Test Championship, and if that wasn’t enough, they also failed to qualify for the semifinals of the T20 World Cup. Kohli first decided to step down as India’s T20I captain and was later sacked from ODI captaincy as well, with the BCCI handing over the leadership to Rohit Sharma.
But, they also did some incredible stuff on the field, especially in the longest format of the game. They started the year with an incredible escape in Sydney and then ended Australia’s 32-year dominance at the Gabba to win yet another Test series Down Under. India kept losing their key players throughout the series but the likes of Washington Sundar, Mohammed Siraj, T Natarajan and other young players stood up and showed everyone how formidable India’s bench strength is at the moment.
They hammered England (3-1) and New Zealand (1-0) at home, thanks to their world-beatable spin trio, and are currently the top-ranked Test side. Meanwhile, the fast bowlers continued to impress in overseas Tests, helping India take a 2-1 lead in England before the fifth and final Test had to be postponed due to covid-19 outbreak. Ravi Shastri completed his tenure and Rahul Dravid was appointed as the new head coach. The 48-year-old’s first big assignment will be to help India win a Test series in South Africa, something that they have never done in the past.
India only played six ODIs in 2021, defeating England and Sri Lanka 2-1. Talking about T20Is, India got the better of England in a five-match series, but lost 1-2 in Sri Lanka, with the majority of their key players not being available. They were one of the favourites going into the T20 World Cup but were thumped by Pakistan and New Zealand in their first two encounters, ending Kohli’s white-ball captaincy reign without a single ICC title.
Tests - Matches 5 | Won 3 | Lost 1 | Drawn 1
ODIs - Matches 3 | Won 2 | Lost 1
T20Is - Matches 22 | Won 10 | Lost 12
2021 was a strange year for Australian cricket, both on and off the field. They lost a Test series against India at home and were hammered in their three T20I bilateral series - 2-3 in New Zealand, 1-4 in West Indies and 1-4 in Bangladesh. Off the field, head coach Justin Langer came under the spotlight with players being wearied of his intense coaching style. Then, just before the start of the ongoing Ashes series, Tim Paine resigned from Test captaincy after being investigated by Cricket Australia for sending explicit messages to a female co-worker. However, amidst all the chaos, Australia won the T20 World Cup!
Going into the showpiece event, nobody gave Australia a chance but the Aaron Finch-led side proved everyone wrong by winning their maiden T20I title. They were humbled by England in the group stage but won their remaining four encounters to qualify for the semis from the Group of Death. Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade ended Pakistan's unbeaten streak in the semifinal before David Warner and Mitchell Marsh helped them topple New Zealand in the grand finale.
Australia didn’t play a single Test for more than 10 months after suffering an embarrassing defeat against India in January but that didn’t really hamper their preparations for the Ashes series. With Paine out, ace paceman Pat Cummins was appointed as Australia’s Test captain, while the vice-captaincy was given to their star batter Steve Smith. They have already taken a 3-0 lead in the five-match series against England and it won’t come as a surprise if they manage to win the Ashes 5-0.
Tests - Matches 15 | Won 4 | Lost 9 | Drawn 2
ODIs - Matches 9 | Won 6 | Lost 2 | NR 1
T20Is - Matches 17 | Won 11 | Lost 6
Eoin Morgan and Co. continued to excel in white-ball cricket but the same can’t be said about Joe Root and his men. You can’t really blame Root though. The 30-year-old had a terrific year as a batter, smashing 1708 runs in 29 innings at an average of 63.25, but hardly found any support from other batsmen. Apart from Root and Dawid Malan (34.22), not a single England Test batter averaged more than 30 in 2021. In fact, England had the second-worst batting average (24.1) amongst all Test-playing nations.
Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer missed the majority of action and that only made things worse for England. They started 2021 with a bang, defeating Sri Lanka 2-0. They also clobbered India by 227 runs in the first Test in Chennai but these wins were only possible because Root continued to get those big scores. Root’s form didn’t dip but England lost their next three Tests in India. They even lost to New Zealand at home before conceding a 2-1 lead to India. Since those three consecutive wins, England have won only one of their last 12 Tests. Their batting has constantly let them down but the worst part of it is that they don’t really have better options in the domestic circuit.
However, such is not the case in ODIs and T20Is. The Morgan-led side lost only two of their nine ODIs - both against India - in 2021. Meanwhile, in T20Is, England went down 2-3 against India but managed to get the better of Sri Lanka and Pakistan. They won four of their five league games in the T20 World Cup but lost to the Black Caps in the semifinal because of a couple of bad overs. England have the most balanced team in the two white-ball formats and will be the side to beat in the 2021 T20 World Cup in Australia and 2023 50-over World Cup in India.
Tests - Matches 6 | Won 3 | Lost 1 | Drawn 2
ODIs - Matches 3 | Won 3 | Lost 0
T20Is - Matches 23 | Won 13 | Lost 10
The Kiwis won their maiden ICC silverware when they defeated India by eight wickets in the finale of the WTC 2019-21 in Southampton. On top of that, the Kane Williamson-led side also finished as runner-up in the T20 World Cup in the UAE and Oman. New Zealand started this year with a big win over Pakistan and then defeated Root and Co. in England. They have managed to form a formidable Test unit which can compete in all conditions, with Devon Conway, Will Young, Daryl Mitchell, Kyle Jamieson and Ajaz Patel making a name for themselves in their own ways.
New Zealand even managed to draw a Test against India in Kanpur but lost the second game in Mumbai by 372 runs, despite Patel becoming only the third bowler to scalp 10 wickets in a Test innings. In the shortest format of the game, New Zealand defeated Australia and Bangladesh in bilateral T20I series at home before going down 2-3 in Bangladesh just before the T20 World Cup. They started their campaign with a defeat against Pakistan but won their remaining four league-stage fixtures to qualify for the semis. Thanks to Mitchell, they beat England in the semifinal but lost the final against Australia despite Williamson’s superb 48-ball 85.
Tests - Matches 9 | Won 7 | Lost 2 | Drawn 0
ODIs - Matches 6 | Won 2 | Lost 4
T20Is - Matches 29 | Won 20 | Lost 6 | NR 3
There is no systematic way to win a T20 game but Pakistan seem to have found a way to succeed in the shortest format of the game. Yes, the Men in Green messed up on a couple of occasions in the semifinal against Australia, but they were still the most consistent side in the competition. Pakistan won all of their five group-stage games and also defeated India for the first time in the World Cup. They became the first team to win 20 T20Is in a calendar year.
In the batting department, wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan and skipper Babar Azam did the majority of the scoring. In 26 T20I innings that he played in 2021, Rizwan smashed 1326 runs at an average of 73.67 and a strike rate of 134.9. He managed 13 50-plus scores and became the first batter to breach the 1000-run mark in a calendar year in T20Is. Meanwhile, Azam slammed 939 runs at an average of 37.56. This year, the opening duo added 1380 runs in 25 innings at an average of 57.50. In the bowling department, Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi and Shadab Khan continued to do the job for Pakistan.
Pakistan defeated South Africa and West Indies twice in bilateral T20I series and also got the better of Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. The only bilateral T20I series that they lost this year was against England (1-2) in July. They were equally dominating in Test cricket as well, beating the likes of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. They also managed to draw a series in West Indies. In ODIs, they were whitewashed in England but beat South Africa 2-1 at their own backyard.
Tests - Matches 5 | Won 3 | Lost 2 | Drawn 0
ODIs - Matches 10 | Won 3 | Lost 5 | NR 2
T20Is - Matches 23 | Won 15 | Lost 8
South Africa showed a lot of promise in the T20 World Cup, winning four of their five league-stage matches, but still couldn’t qualify for the semis. The Proteas have been decent in T20Is, winning series in West Indies, Ireland and Sri Lanka. Temba Bavuma has emerged as an outstanding leader, with the likes of Aiden Markram, Quinton de Kock, Rassie van der Dussen and David Miller backing him up. However, it’s their bowling that has been a difference-maker. Tabraiz Shamsi, Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje have been world-class, while Dwaine Pretorius, George Linde and Keshav Maharaj too have played their parts.
They still need to improve if they want to compete on a consistent basis. They lost ODI series against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, while Ireland managed to draw an ODI series against them. In red-ball cricket, South Africa were whitewashed in Pakistan but defeated West Indies 2-0 in Gros Islet in June. Their next assignment is against India and it won’t be an easy task considering they will be without Nortje, their leading wicket-taker in Tests in 2021. However, they have been bolstered by the return of Duanne Olivier. Off the field, their administration has been a mess. And, now with various revelations in the SJN hearings, the Proteas will have to make sure they don’t lose focus on the field, because they have all the ingredients to become a powerhouse once again.
Tests - Matches 9 | Won 3 | Lost 3 | Drawn 3
ODIs - Matches 15 | Won 4 | Lost 10 | NR 1
T20Is - Matches 20 | Won 8 | Lost 12
The numbers might not suggest but Sri Lanka have finally got a group of players who can put this team back on the cricketing map. The likes of Charith Asalanka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Pathum Nissanka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Dushmantha Chameera, Chamika Karunaratne and Maheesh Theekshana have all been super impressive of late and have helped Sri Lanka compete with some bigger nations. Hasaranga, in particular, is currently the top-ranked T20I bowler and is only going to improve with more experience.
Sri Lanka had to play the T20 World Cup qualifiers to make it through to the league-stage, where they won two of their three encounters. They went down fighting in the remaining three fixtures against Australia, South Africa and England. Sri Lanka even managed to defeat India’s second-string side at home in June. In Tests, they were whitewashed 2-0 against England but defeated Bangladesh (1-0) and West Indies (2-0). They even managed to draw a series in West Indies in March. The onus will now be on experienced campaigners like Dimuth Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva and Suranga Lakmal to push these young players forward.
Tests - Matches 10 | Won 3 | Lost 5 | Drawn 2
ODIs - Matches 9 | Won 4 | Lost 5
T20Is - Matches 25 | Won 9 | Lost 13 | NR 3
West Indies showed some promise at the start of this year but that’s about it. They chased down a massive target of 395 in Bangladesh and managed to win a two-match Test series 2-0. Kyle Mayers (210*) and Nkrumah Bonner (86) played unbelievable knocks and that’s how they announced their arrival to international cricket. They were two of the three West Indies batters to average more than 30 in 2021, with skipper Kraigg Brathwaite being the other. However, that was never going to be enough at this level as West Indies continued to falter and won only one of their next eight Tests.
Their batters continued to disappoint as West Indies suffered a similar fate in the other two formats as well. In T20Is, they hammered Australia 4-1 and Sri Lanka 2-1 at home but lost to South Africa and Pakistan. The likes of Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran, Andre Russell and other T20 superstars failed big time in the T20 World Cup as the Caribbean side could only win one of their five group-stage games. They are still a fearsome white-ball unit but West Indies will have to find a way to make full use of the talents they possess.
Tests - Matches 7 | Won 1 | Lost 5 | Drawn 1
ODIs - Matches 12 | Won 8 | Lost 4
T20Is - Matches 27 | Won 11 | Lost 16
Bangladesh struggled big time in 2021. They won T20I series at home against Australia, Zimbabwe and New Zealand but that was only because of the surfaces being too spin-friendly. The moment they stepped out of Bangladesh, they were hammered in all facets of the game. They lost in New Zealand earlier this year and then had a terrible T20 World Cup, losing all their group-stage encounters. Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan missed the majority of cricket due to respective injuries and that didn’t help either.
“Bangladesh really need to do some soul searching, do they want to win on such pitches and give ordinary performances abroad and in World Cups? They have great talent and passion for the game but desperately need better pitches if they want to progress,” said former Pakistan allrounder Shahid Afridi after Bangladesh were whitewashed by Babar Azam and Co. In Tests, they only managed to defeat Zimbabwe and lost comfortably against West Indies, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Bangladesh were granted full ICC membership in 2000 and it’s now high time that they start doing well in ICC events, and not just at home.
Tests - Matches 2 | Won 1 | Lost 1 | Drawn 0
ODIs - Matches 3 | Won 3 | Lost 0
T20Is - Matches 8 | Won 5 | Lost 3
It’s a shame that an entertaining side like Afghanistan played only two Tests, three ODIs and eight T20Is in 2021. The moment the Taliban took over the country, it was always going to impact their cricket team as well. Their tour of Australia was postponed after women were “banned” from playing sport under the new Taliban government. Afghanistan played only two Tests against Zimbabwe in the entire year, winning one and losing one.
They won all their three ODIs against Ireland in the UAE, and even did well in the T20 World Cup. After whitewashing Zimbabwe in March, Afghanistan commenced their T20 World Cup campaign by smashing Scotland by 130 runs. They even hammered Namibia and also had their moments against Pakistan and New Zealand. The likes of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rahmanullah Gurbaz continued to impress, and right now, Afghanistan look a more threatening side than Bangladesh.
Tests - Didn’t play
ODIs - Matches 14 | Won 4 | Lost 8 | NR 2
T20Is - Matches 16 | Won 6 | Lost 10
"We're a Test member, or a Full Member, but at the moment it only really feels like a name. Nothing's really showing for that. We've had our days out at Lord's and Malahide but apart from that, all I can see is a name. It'll be three years in the summer that we haven't played a Test match," said Ireland skipper Andy Balbirnie. It's been two-and-a-half years since Ireland last played a Test and you can sympathise with Balbirnie and his men. They were the only full-member nation who didn't play a single Test this year.
Ireland did play the second-most number of ODIs and even managed to defeat South Africa in Dublin. They lost to Afghanistan and Netherlands but managed to draw series against South Africa and Zimbabwe. No other batter scored more runs than Paul Stirling (705 at 54.23) in ODIs this year, while the likes of Simi Singh, Joshua Little, Andy McBrine and Curtis Campher too did well in the 50-over format. Meanwhile, in the shortest format of the game, Ireland were whitewashed by South Africa at home but won a series against Zimbabwe. They lost to the UAE prior to the T20 World Cup, where they failed to qualify for the league stage. They even lost a T20I against USA in December but saved themselves from an embarrassing series defeat by winning the next game.
Tests - Matches 5 | Won 1 | Lost 4 | Drawn 0
ODIs - Matches 6 | Won 1 | Lost 4 | NR 1
T20Is - Matches 17 | Won 6 | Lost 11
Zimbabwe couldn’t participate in the T20 World Cup after being suspended for the allegation of political interference in the cricket board, meaning there wasn’t much focus on them this year. They defeated Afghanistan by 10 wickets in the first Test they played this year but lost the remaining four encounters. On top of that, they could only win one of their six ODIs. They did win a T20I against Pakistan, which was their biggest highlight of 2021. The only series they won this year was against Scotland (2-1) at Edinburgh.
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