Sydney - Virat Kohli joined the greats with three
double-centuries as India dominated Test cricket in a year where 'homeless'
Pakistan soared and dived and Australia grappled with crisis.
India's cricket scaled new heights as the Test side reclaimed its world number one ranking during their 3-0 whitewash of the touring New Zealanders in October and remained unbeaten in all of their 11 Tests in 2016.
They crowned their year with a home series win over England
with skipper Kohli in commanding form with a match-defining 235 in the fourth
Test at Mumbai.
Kohli is among just five batsmen, including Don Bradman and
Ricky Ponting, to amass three double-centuries in a single year.
"The future of Indian cricket rests on Virat Kohli ...
the world will be at his feet in a few years' time," hailed former India
skipper Sourav Ganguly.
Pakistan, forced to play away from home over security
issues, flirted with the number one status after drawing a Test series 2-2 with
England in August before relinquishing top spot to India.
Pakistan has been a 'no-go' area for rival nations since
gunmen opened fire on Sri Lanka's team bus in Lahore in 2009.
But they finished the year with a two-Test series drubbing
in New Zealand and went on to Australia where they have lost nine straight
Tests since 1999, ahead of the first Test in Brisbane.
It was a traumatic 2016 for Steve Smith's Australians,
tumbling from world number one after a 3-0 series wipe-out in Sri Lanka and a
third straight home series loss to South Africa.
Five straight Test defeats led to upheaval with chairman of
selectors Rod Marsh quitting, pressure on coach Darren Lehmann and six team
changes in a bid to prevent rampant South Africa from an unprecedented series
Smith's revamped team saw off the threat in winning the
pink-ball third Test in Adelaide and then swept New Zealand 3-0 in their home
South Africa's year started badly with a home Test series
loss against England and the resignation in mid-series of Hashim Amla as
captain. But it ended on a high with a third successive Test series victory in
Faf du Plessis, who led the side in Australia minus their
two injured leading lights AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn, scored a fighting
century in Adelaide in the midst of being found guilty of ball tampering.
Television pictures captured him during the second Test in
Hobart applying saliva to the ball when he had a mint sweet in his mouth.
Alastair Cook's future as England captain was questioned
late in the year after he admitted he was finding it hard to be apart from his
family on long overseas tours.
Despite England's series loss in India, coach Trevor Bayliss
said he expected Cook to be in charge for the Ashes tour to Australia at the
end of 2017.
New Zealand started the year bidding farewell to the
mercurial Brendon McCullum who, in typically flamboyant style, bowed out with a
world record for the fastest 100 (54 balls) on his way to 145 against Australia
in his final Test.
But, they lost that series and also fell to South Africa and
India before ending the year with a 2-0 home sweep against Pakistan.
Sri Lanka recorded their first series sweep against a major
nation since gaining Test status in 1981 with their emphatic 3-0 home win over
Australia in August. Veteran spinner Rangana Herath claimed 28 wickets in the
Once-mighty West Indies beat England to win the World T20 in
April with Carlos Brathwaite providing the pyrotechnics with four consecutive
sixes when 19 runs were needed in the final over of the match.
After coming close to winning the day/night opener against
Pakistan in Dubai, the Windies earned a consolation victory in the final match
in Sharjah, their first Test win in 19 months.
Bangladesh successfully hosted a Test series against England
in October despite terrorist fears and pulled off a rare 108-run victory in the
final Test in Dhaka to level the series.
Fellow minnows Zimbabwe played just four Tests in 2016 and
lost the lot at home to New Zealand and Sri Lanka.
The year saw the passing of Pakistan's 'Little Master' Hanif Mohammad, aged 81, popular Australian paceman Max Walker at 68 from cancer, New Zealand batting great Martin Crowe, aged 53 from lymphoma, former South African captain Trevor Goddard, 85, and legendary West Indian commentator Tony Cozier at 75.