Under Blue Skies: 2013, A Year in Review

2013, despite being a rather eventful year for cricket, can be summed up in just two words: Ashes and Sachin.

Looking back over my blog – and while I freely admit that is a poor barometer – but when it comes to things actually happening on the field of play, those are the only two things that happened.

The Ashes. And Sachin.

I am speaking in hyperbole, of course, as there were other tours and matches and leagues and tournaments that produced thrilling chases and jaw dropping conclusions and brilliant stands. And there were other players that retired this year. Not just Sachin. Players like Kallis. And Swann. And Ponting:

And the first Ashes Test aside, the best Test cricket didn’t happen in England or in Australia. It happened in South Africa. And New Zealand:

And so really, maybe it was truly the year of Test Cricket and Retirement, not just the Ashes and Sachin.

And therefore, maybe, cricket in 2013 can be summed up in one day. July 11, 2013. Day two of the Ashes Test. The day Ashton Agar scored that remarkable 98. And it was also day four of the last First Class match ever for one Ricky Ponting.

Test Cricket. And retirement. The entire year summed up in one sentence and two tweets:

Two images remain from today, one of a 19-year-old lad who may already have played the innings of his life and the other from a 38 year old man who has no more left to play.

-The Old Batsman (full post)

**

But that discounts the Champions Trophy, which really held its own as a 50 Over tournament and gave India and Dhoni yet another piece of silverware.

And so maybe it was the year of Cricket. And retirement.

But then again, that’s every year. All of them blending together. Until we all forget who retired what year and who retired the other year. Or if that 150 from that one player happened in Melbourne in ’03 or in Sydney in ’04. Cricket just keeps chugging along. Unaware that we have decided to arbitrarily flip the calendar over. But 2013 did produce those two indelible moments above, and those are the moments that I will know forever took place in the year of our Lord, two thousand and thirteen.

*

Well, those two moments and Sachin’s 74 against the West Indies in Mumbai, of course. But that one’s a no brainer:

And the bus was gone. So was Sachin in the only way I’d known him. Never ever again.

- Subash (aka The Cricket Couch) from my favorite blog post of the year

*

On the site, this was the year I invented the Twitter Strike Rate. And it was the year I linked Sachin’s career to my dad. And it was the year I wrote my favorite sentence ever:

There was no talk of war in the pubs or in the streets or in the House of Commons – war instead fell like a hammer from the sky. (Full post)

I also wrote an Open Letter to American Sports Fans. And posted daily recaps of each day of the Ashes – an exercise which I found both rewarding and phenomenally difficult. It was inspired by Gideon Haigh’s book about the 2005 Ashes series – which was more or less just a collection of his newspaper articles from the time. He wrote about every single day. Plus recaps and previews and travel logs. It was, like I said, inspiring, but it also taught me how difficult and relentless sports journalism truly is. Yes, it was Haigh’s JOB, but it is not an easy job by any means.

Oh, and I met Jarod Kimber this year. And wrote some stuff I was really proud of about cricket and World War One. And I found out that Cricinfo has some really strong Minnesota roots.

And, well, a bunch of other stuff. 131 posts according to WordPress. Which is a lot more than I thought there would be. Stats and summaries and posts about football and baseball and history and religion. A pretty good year overall, looking back.

Finally, it was my best traffic year ever. By far. Thanks to everyone for reading, commenting, retweeting and reblogging.

Happy new year. Let’s do it all again in 2014.

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2 Responses to Under Blue Skies: 2013, A Year in Review

  1. Your “best Test match” was, from a New Zealand perspective, the “most frustrating Test match!” But the best thing, from an NZ perspective, has been the development of New Zealand’s swing bowling attack, especially Trent Boult and Tim Southee. If only we could develop some consistent Test batting to complement them!

    I was surprised to see how much you downplayed the retirement of Jacques Kallis – to me, that was just as big a deal, in cricketing terms, as the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar.

    In 2014, I’m looking forward to seeing the new school of Indian Test batsmen in action at the Basin Reserve – through I’ll also be outside the gates of that same Basin Reserve with my Save the Basin Campaign colleagues to draw attention to the continuing threat of a proposed motorway flyover overshadowing the ground. The hearings on that project start a few weeks before India plays New Zealand at the Basin.

    Also, with the fate of the men’s Ashes decided, I’m very much looking forward to the Australian leg of the women’s Ashes that starts on January 10th.

  2. sibeen says:

    Matt,

    I’ve enjoyed your writing since I stumbled across your site around six months ago, and I hope to be reading a lot more in 2014. It certainly gives some ‘other’ perspective on the game when the writing comes from someone who wasn’t bought up with the game. Please keep it up.

    Have just finished watching another enthralling day’s cricket from my man cave hidden away in Melbourne. The first day of the fifth test, and it is shaping up to be a beauty. I do tell the wife I’m working out there, but there is some fair chance that she doesn’t believe me :)

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