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Mohammad Yousuf was in thrilling form and broke the record for most runs in a calender year, whereas Muthiah Muralitharan bowled the second most expensive spell in One day cricket..
Indian team won a test series in West Indies after 35 years, whereas Australians regained their Ashes urn. Pakistan dominated the newspapers with numerous controversies, whereas New Zealand played the least amount of cricket and rarely anyone noticed them..
Well yes, I am talking about the year of 2006, where 46 test and 160 ODI's were played.. including that forfeited match at The Oval. Australian won the Champions trophy for the first time this year, and India Pakistan teams clashed once again on UAE soil (at Abu Dhabi) after a long time.
So who were the cricketers that stole the honours, the unplayable bowlers, and those electrifying fielders... ?? I hope the following will help you find an answer.
Top Wicket takers :
Lets start this summary with a surprise. Mushrafe Mortaza - the Bangladeshi seam bowler is the highest wicket taker in 2006 ODIs. He played 27 One day matches and took 49 wickets.
Second in the list is Nathan Backen of Australia with 46 wickets, Abdur Razzaq with 45, Brett Lee with 44 and Jerome Taylor of West Indies with 39 wickets. In test matches, it was again the magic of Muralitharan with 90 wickets from 11 test matches. Followed by Mkhaya Ntini with only 58 in 10 test matches.
Indian best came from Anil Kumble with 57 wickets in 12 test matches and he is at the 3rd position in that list of best bowlers in year 2006. In ODIs - Irfan Pathan leads with 35 wickets from 24 ODIs, which makes him 9th in International list.
Note : Farveez Maharoof of Sri Lanka took the best bowling award in an innings with 6 for 14 runs against West Indies at Mumbai in that Champions trophy encounter. Other bowlers to take 6 wickets in an innings in 2006 ODIs are Ntini, Mortaza and S Sreesanth against England at Indore.
In test matches, Muralitharan and Stuart MacGill dismissed 8 batsmen in one innings against England and Bangladesh respectively, but as Muralithan gave only 70 runs as compared to 108 by MacGill - you know who had the best test match bowling figures in 2006.
The Run Machines :
One name - Mohammad Yousuf. He not only scored most runs in 2006 Calender year, he broke Sir Vivian Richards record as well with his 1788 runs from 11 test matches (here's more).
Next in the list is Kevin Pietersen with 1343 runs from 14 test matches and Ricky Ponting with 1333 runs in 10 test matches.
In ODIs, Kumar Sangakkara compiled 1333 runs at an average of 44.43, and he was followed by Chris Gayle with 1217 runs from 32 Onedayers. Jayawardene and Sanath Jayasuriya were not far behind.
From Indian perspective - Dravid, Yuvraj and Dhoni feature at 9, 10 and 11th position in that list of highest run scorers in 2006 ODIs. But for test matches, only Rahul Dravid feature at the 7th Position with 1095 runs in 12 test matches and Indian captain was the only batsmen to make more than 1000 runs in 2006 test matches for India.
Note : As many as 95 centuries scored in 2006 test matches but the highest of them all was 374 by Sri Lankan Captain Mahela Jayawardena against South Africa at Colombo.
ODIs saw 58 centuries with the highest being 175 by Herschelle Gibbs against Australia in that Greatest One day International.
Those jumping fielders :
It's always the wicket keeper where most of the catches go, and that's why - all the eight wicket-keepers Internationally took most number of catches in 2006. The top of them being Geraint Jones of England with 46 catches and 2 stumpings from 11 tests.
MS Dhoni stood at the second position with 44 dismissals from 12 tests.
In ODIs - Kumar Sangakkara took 49 dismissals and held number one position... but wait a minutes - what about the common fielders??
Well, Chris Gayle and Stephan Fleming take the honour of most catches in ODI and test matches in 2006, without being a wicket keeper. They took 20 and 19 catches.
Miscellaneous notes :
-:- 4 Englishmen - Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Andrew Strauss and Mathew Hoggard played all the test matches for their country and with 14 test matches - they are the one with most test matches in 2006 calender year.
On the other hand, 3 Sri Lankans - Sangakkara, Jayawardena and Dilshan played all 36 ODIs for their country and thus - the most caped played of 2006.
-:- Jason Gillespie made an unusual record of scoring a test match double century, while batting as a Nightwatchman. That was a Australia vs Bangladesh test match at Chittagong in April 2006.
-:- Sri Lankan batsmen are of different flavour from other International batsmen, but they certainly have big appetite. When they get in, they stick in. Another example came when Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara got South Africans on a placid wicket of Colombo cricket stadium. They put on 624 for the 3rd wicket.
-:- For my own countrymen, Rahul Dravid and Sehwag missed the record of highest opening partnership against Pakistan, whereas Irfan Pathan pulled out second hat-trick for India in test match cricket.
On sader note - Shahid Afridi hit Harbhajan Singh for 27 runs in just one over.