a year of returns and redemption in the world of cricket

Life is a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. Sports often gives us life lessons and they invariably teach us to never give up, hang in there and wait for redemption.

World cricket has seen many players this year even the odds and savor the high of a comeback.

The Business Standard (TBS) attempts to compile 2022’s remarkable comeback stories of cricketers.

Virat Kohli (India)

Virat Kohli is probably past his prime, especially in Tests but he put on some inspiring performances in white-ball cricket. He broke the century drought against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup, played one of T20 cricket’s greatest innings against Pakistan in the T20 World Cup, became the World Cup’s highest run-getter and late in the year, he got an ODI hundred against Bangladesh as well .

Ben Stokes (England)

From “Carlos Brathwaite, remember the name” to “It’s always Ben Stokes with the winning runs” – Ben Stokes’ redemption was well and truly complete with the T20 World Cup win. He lost England the 2016 T20 World Cup final as Carlos Brathwaite went berserk in the last over. In Stokes’ next T20 World Cup final, he made sure he remained till the end and hit the winning runs to create history.

David Warner (Australia)

His back was up against the wall but David Warner vowed to play like his old self in his 100th Test. There was a lot of speculation regarding his recent Test form (two fifties in the last 21 innings) but Warner answered the critics with a majestic double-ton against South Africa. His teammates hailed him for his defiant performance and the opener rated his innings as one of his finest.

Sikandar Raza (Zimbabwe)

Zimbabwe’s remarkable run in 2022 coincided with that of Sikandar Raza. Zimbabwe won the series against Bangladesh, gave India an almighty scare and made the main round of the T20 World Cup and beat Pakistan there. Raza had always been a utility player but he had never been this good across formats. He won nine player-of-the-match awards in international cricket this year.

Alex Hales (England)

The destructive opener had fallen out of favor because of misdemeanors under Eoin Morgan. Morgan’s retirement coupled with Jonny Bairstow’s freak injury forced England to recall him in T20Is after three years. Hales had scored heavily almost everywhere in the world during his exile. He helped England win the T20 World Cup, thus writing an inspiring comeback story and his performance in the semi-final against India was jaw-dropping.

Dinesh Karthik (India)

Dinesh Karthik’s unlikely comeback at the age of 37 is one of cricket’s most inspiring stories. Karthik even started commenting, and had long stints with Sky Sports which mentioned him as a “retired player”. But after a sensational IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore, Karthik stormed his way into the T20I team after three years and played the T20 World Cup after a gap of 12 years.

Rilee Rossouw (South Africa)

Rilee Rossouw is making up for lost time. He missed a great deal of cricket for South Africa when he hit peak form in white-ball cricket because of the Kolpak deal. After a return to the South Africa team after a six-year long layoff, Rossouw became only the second man to score back-to-back T20I hundreds (against India and Bangladesh) and got himself an IPL contract late in the year.

Usman Khawaja (Australia)

“Comeback for the ages,” said Ian Bishop on Usman Khawaja’s magnificent return. Khawaja got a chance after two and a half years in Tests because of Travis Head’s illness (Covid) and scored twin centuries in that SCG Test. He hasn’t looked back since and has been one of the highest run-getters in Tests in the world this year. In 11 Tests, Khawaja has nine fifty-plus scores in 2022.

Ben Duckett (England)

Ben Duckett returned to the England side after six years as a much-improved player. He put on a sweep and reverse-sweep masterclass off spin bowling in Pakistan in both Tests and T20Is. He was the second-highest run-getter in his comeback series against Pakistan and also set the stage on fire in three Tests against them with three fifties and a hundred at a rapid rate.

Jaydev Unadkat (India)

After years of toil in domestic cricket, Jaydev Unadkat finally got a much-deserved recall. He played his first Test as a teenager in 2010 and had to wait for 12 years to get his second cap. And he bowled exceedingly well on his return, rattling the batters with extra bounce on a pitch favoring the slow bowlers mostly. He later said that he “visualised” getting a Test wicket 1000 times.

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