MINNOWS MASSACRED (April 11): With bigger, smarter bats, shorter boundaries, Powerplays, and what not, it doesn't take a wise man to see how cricket has become increasingly batsman-friendly. That's how it was when Shane Watson hammered 15 sixes and 15 fours -- that's 150 runs in boundaries -- en route to an unbeaten 185 off just 96 balls against Bangladesh in Mirpur. Ridiculously good hitting. But does anyone care about bowlers?
THANK YOU, GARY; WELCOME FLETCH (April 27): India bid adieu to coach Gary Kirsten after the World Cup as he wished to be closer to his family. The man chosen to fill in his shoes was former England coach and Zimbabwe captain Duncan Fletcher. Fletcher got off to a shaky start with the Indian media. He was then criticized for not pushing for a win in the final Caribbean Test. This was followed by the England disaster. For a while it seemed like Kirsten had taken India's good fortune with him.
G-FORCE (May-June): Bowlers in IPL suffered the repercussions of the ridiculous stand-off between the West Indies board and Chris Gayle. Dropped from the WI squad after a radio interview in which he was critical of the board, Gayle went to India and smashed every bowler in sight. In 12 innings, he made 608 runs to top the charts. The highlight was a 37-run over off Kochi's Prasanth Parameswaran. Gayle failed in the finals though, making 8 and 0 against Chennai Super Kings. [Continued below.]
Gayle's problems with the board continue. At the height of their dispute, some West Indies cricketers (like Marlon Samuels, above) showed where their loyalties lay when they joined Gayle in the stands to celebrate a win over India in Jamaica. Gayle scored heavily in the Champions League T20, the Zimbabwe T20s and Big Bash in Australia. But the national call-up is still due.
THE RETIREMENT THAT WASN'T (May 30): Shahid Afridi led Pakistan to the semi-finals of the 2011 World Cup, but soon after announced his retirement following a feud with then coach Waqar Younis and the PCB's decision to strip him of the ODI captaincy. Afridi then had his contract suspended by the PCB, which also fined him $52,300. The board and Afridi would eventually reach an out-of-court settlement. Afridi withdrew his retirement after Ijaz Butt was replaced as PCB chairman and has since made a successful return.
SPIRIT OF CRICKET VS CRICKET'S LAWS (July 31): MS Dhoni granted England's Ian Bell an extraordinary reprieve after he was run out in the Trent Bridge Test. Bell took a casual walk at the stroke of tea, believing he had struck a boundary off the last ball. Dhoni ran him out. At first, Dhoni decided not to withdraw his appeal. But he did so at the insistence of coach Duncan Fletcher. In trying to uphold the spirit of the game, the authorities unwittingly broke a rule that a batsman couldn't be recalled once he's left the field of play. The boos for India after tea turned to applauses once the public saw Bell returning to the crease. But the incident divided cricket experts.