- Festive Fundown
Cricket: Performance of the Year
Christmas season is upon us, so in the build-up to the big day itself we at ESPN Towers will be picking out a host of top-five moments, and then asking YOU to vote for your favourites.
What was the goal of 2012? Who are the top five bad boys of the past 12 months? Who had years to forget? Come back each day for a new topic and cast your vote to pick the winners of each category…
Hashim Amla 311*, England v South Africa, 1st Test, The OvalIn many ways Hashim Amla is a distinctive cricketer, with his twirling back lift, elegant strokeplay and lustrous beard. But he made certain that no cricket fan will ever forget his name by tormenting England's bowlers for more than 13 hours at The Oval, becoming the first South African to score a Test triple-hundred in the process. Amla faced 529 deliveries spread over three days, the dull tattoo of ball thudding into his bat providing the soundtrack as South Africa won by an innings and took an unshakeable grip on England's No. 1 ranking. In a stellar personal tour for Amla, this was an innings for the ages.
Kevin Pietersen 186, India v England, 2nd Test, MumbaiKevin Pietersen has had, ahem, quite a year. Between retirements, recriminations and reintegration, he played three of the most astonishing innings by an England batsman in modern times. His 151 from 165 balls in Colombo set England on course for their first Test win in six attempts; a majestic 149 at Headingley, against the world's best pace attack, provided them brief hope of matching South Africa. But eclipsing both was the 186 he plundered in Mumbai, on a pitch where only four other players passed 30. It was the third-highest score by an Englishman in India and reaffirmed Pietersen's predilection for the outrageous.
Marlon Samuels 78, West Indies v Sri Lanka, World Twenty20 finalIf Amla's monumental knock was operatic in its scale and subtlety, Marlon Samuels' display of sui generis destruction in the World Twenty20 final was a brief, mind-boggling explosion of K-Pop - the Gangnam Style innings of the year. It began with some lo-fi noodling and the odd, faint rumble of bass, before the dismissal of Chris Gayle left West Indies 14 for 2 from six overs and Samuels with solo billing. He fully lived up to it, targeting Sri Lanka's main strike bowler, Lasith Malinga, from whom he scored 39 runs from 11 deliveries, and repeatedly tossing out six bombs. The home crowd were stunned and West Indies Gangnam-ed off with the trophy.
Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann 19 for 323, India v England, 2nd Test, MumbaiIt had been a miserable year on the subcontinent for England, with six defeats in seven Tests and more spin issues than a government communications director stuck on the teacups. United after heavy criticism of England's team selection for the first Test in Ahmedabad, Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar lined up at Mumbai with an uninspiring record of having drawn three and lost four of the seven Tests they had previously played together - they proceeded to take 19 wickets, the most by a pair of England spinners in more than 50 years, and leave India choking on their own dust.
Graham Onions 9 for 67, Nottinghamshire v Durham, County ChampionshipFor the county cricket romantics, we give you Onions. Okay, that may not sound such an attractive proposition but Graham Onions deserves his place for taking 9 for 67 against Nottinghamshire in the County Championship in masterful display of seam and swing bowling. What's more, the man to deny him a full house was ... himself. With Notts eight down, and all ten wickets beckoning for Onions, he swooped to selflessly run out No. 10 Luke Fletcher and put a cork in his chances of a rare achievement in the process. One way or another, though, they all ended up in Onions' bag.