Year in Review – 2023 in films

Deepti Unni

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Usman Khawaja opened his year with an unbeaten 195 in the last match of the series against South Africa 2-0 in Sydney. Khawaja's 2023 continued in similar fashion, with 180 against India in Ahmedabad and 141 against England in Edgbaston. He became the most prolific Test batsman of 2023, scoring over 1000 runs for the second consecutive calendar year.

South Africa beat England in the T20 World Cup semi-final to reach the senior World Cup final for the first time in any format. Australia narrowly pipped the hosts to a third straight title in a thrilling final, but the home crowd at Newlands cheered their team's attempt at history.

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The fast bowler in the women's game has announced that she wants to slow down after 16 years of international cricket and spend more time with her family. Shabnim Ismail retired with 191 ODI wickets, the second most after Jhulan Goswami, and 123 T20I wickets.

New Zealand became the fourth team to win back-to-back Tests. They did it by one run on a dramatic final day in Wellington. A sixth-wicket partnership between Ben Stokes and Joe Root almost took the game away, but Neil Wagner's short-ball attack and his final wicket, James Anderson, ensured a famous victory.

The inaugural Women's Premier League held the promise of high-octane matches between the world's best cricketers, with Harmanpreet Kaur's Mumbai Indians taking on Meg Lanning's Delhi Capitals in the final. Lanning was denied another feather in his captain's cap after Nat Skiver-friend won it with a quiet 60 not out for MI.

As a recurring theme in 2023, the IPL was played over two tragic days, not one night. Rain washed out the first day and Gujarat Titans threatened to throw the reserve day out after an innings, but Ravindra Jadeja's last-ball boundary in the early hours of the morning gave CSK their fifth IPL title. And MS Dhoni never retired.

Another year of Australia doing things, taking the World Test Championship gamble, then retaining the Ashes, and adding more silverware to their trophy cabinet later that year. Captain Pat Cummins continued to mold the side in his image – quietly competent but ruthless in his lack of rugged bravado.

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It has been a bad year for the West Indies. After losing to Scotland in the qualifiers in Zimbabwe, they failed to qualify for the 50-over World Cup for the first time in their history. They won only two of the five ODI series that year, one against the United Arab Emirates and the other against England, who were disappointed from their World Cup defeat at home.

The 2023 Ashes saw pitch invaders, MCC members banned from Lord's and Alex Carey becoming a supervillain after his controversial stumping of Jonny Bairstow. Australia held on after leveling the series, but England won a morale-boosting, all-important victory.

Pakistan found their own PakBall moment against Sri Lanka in the two-Test series in which they snapped a 365-day unbeaten streak and clinically dismantled the hosts to secure two emphatic victories. However, it would be the only Test series win of the year.

Showman, aggressor, lynchpin, troll – Stuart Broad is one of English cricket's most unique characters, with a six off the last ball he faced, and a wicket off the last ball he bowled, in his 17-year career imaginable. , England need to win the fifth Ashes Test. Broad finished as England's second highest wicket-taker with 604 Test wickets, behind Jimmy Anderson, the great unretired all-rounder.

Sri Lanka Women recorded their first series win against England Women in any format when they defeated England Women 2-0 in a T20I series in England in September. Earlier in July they defeated New Zealand for the first time in an ODI series at home. Captain Samari Atabatu was the catalyst for both these victories, scoring the latter two centuries, and lit up the WBBL later that year, winning the Man of the Match trophy.

India's men's and women's teams won gold at the Asian Games, although the men's final was abandoned and India beat Afghanistan as the higher-ranked team. The women's final was a very competitive affair, with Sri Lanka restricting India to 116, but Titas Sadhu lost 3 for 6 in the powerplay and never recovered.

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After much grumbling and rescheduling of venues, the Asia Cup was finally played across Pakistan and Sri Lanka, where more time was spent on weather reports than match-ups. Nepal qualified for the first time and Afghanistan failed their maths and failed to qualify for the Super Four. India bowled out Sri Lanka for 50 runs in the final, but the real winners were the ground staff they encountered along the way.

With wins over England, then Pakistan, and wins over Sri Lanka and the Netherlands, Afghanistan confirmed their move from efficient progression to contenders in the ODI World Cup. Their wins against England and Pakistan were their first in ODIs against those teams.

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For all of England's baseball players last year, none of that stardust rubbed off on the white-ball side, resulting in the worst defense of a World Cup title in the game's history. England came in as favourites, then lost games against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, and faced an almighty wall from South Africa. They won only 11 out of 24 ODIs this year and only four out of 12 T20Is they played.

Angelo Mathews became the first batsman to be timed out in international cricket after his helmet failed to take a timely strike against Bangladesh in the World Cup. The outcome of Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan's appeal caused little drama, and to add insult to injury, Bangladesh won the game as well.

After beating England, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, Afghanistan chased down 292 runs and defeated Australia by 91 runs for 7 wickets. Had it not been for Glenn Maxwell's convincing innings, they would have won too. Struggling with full-body spasms and unable to move, Maxwell scored a century and then added another to take Australia with three overs to spare. No other Australian player has crossed 25 runs.

Meg Lanning announced his shock retirement at the age of 31 in November, despite leading the team to another T20 World Cup title earlier this year, after a series of hiatuses from the game for personal reasons. The seven-time World Cup winner – five as captain – signed on as the leading Australian run-scorer in women's international cricket, with the most centuries and most wins across formats.

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Virat Kohli returned to form in 2023, a year in which he became the second highest run-scorer in ODIs (1377 runs) with two incredible milestones. He first equaled Sachin Tendulkar's 49th century in the World Cup match against South Africa and then scored his 50th century against New Zealand in the semi-final. He is the highest run-scorer in the World Cup with 765 runs in 11 games – a tournament record.

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A seemingly invincible India beat every team on their way to the World Cup final, by wide margins – they defeated Sri Lanka by 302 runs and then South Africa by 243 runs. But at the last hurdle, they stumbled against old foes Australia. Travis Head won his sixth World Cup title by scoring 137 runs.

Pakistan Women beat New Zealand for the first time in a T20I and did it again in Dunedin to make it a series win. It was their first overseas win outside of Asia and Ireland. Earlier, in September, they beat South Africa Women 3-0 in a T20I series at home.

Deepti Sharma's first-innings haul of nine wickets, including 5 for 7, was the highlight of India Women's historic Test victory over England Women, by the biggest ever margin of 347 runs. Deepti scored 67 and then bowled England out for 136, while Pooja Vastrakar sparked the second collapse. This was India Women's first Test win against England at home.

New Zealand lost to Bangladesh by 98 runs in the third ODI in Napier. Shoriful Islam, Danzim Hasan Saqib and Sowmiya Sarkar picked up three wickets each as they scored 99 runs for just 15 runs in 32 overs. This is Bangladesh's first ODI win against New Zealand in New Zealand.

More in our sights in 2023

Deepti Unni is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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