There's no doubt that Christmas = cricket, with the lawns and driveways of New Zealand packed with kids and parents trying out new bats, gloves or balls on 25 December, followed up by international and domestic cricket through the holiday period. Over in England, those capable of staying up are rewarded with boxing day action from distant lands. Jonathan Wilson paints the picture:
And before long, everybody's drifted off and you're left either alone or with the one other person in the house who likes cricket, and once that's happened it's not really like Christmas anymore: you're just sitting half-drunk watching sport, which is exactly how you'd want to spend Christmas if you were given a free choice. In fact, it's how you spend your birthday most years if you get the chance, except inside and with extra marzipan.
Russell Jackson tried reading books on a variety of topics this year, but settled on a virtually all-cricket diet, somewhat happily:
In the case of books, the primary reason that I've missed out on the mountains of new fiction that have hit the shelves isn't that I'm not reading. It's that I mainly read cricket books. I try not to analyse this too deeply, but the ratio definitely does skew ludicrously in the direction of cricket. There's probably not anything drastically wrong with this situation, but it's also probably not much good for the cultivation of ideas beyond watching and writing about cricket.
The Old Batsman awards 2013's innings of the year to Shikhar Dhawan, for his 187 in Mohali.
But the innings of the year is necessarily a singular thing. One other giant of modern batting has slipped off the radar, and that is Virender Sehwag, a man who drove the role of the opener forwards conceptually. Shikhar Dhawan, a moustachioed rouge, emerged from his wake in Mohali to rip apart the Australian attack with a joy so infectious it's making me smile to think of it now, nine months and two Ashes series later.
Basically the score is either squared if they are out or multiplied by 5 more than itself if they are not out, then divided by the balls faced. It rewards both big scores and quick scoring. It isn't perfect, as it doesn't take into account the state of the match, the quality of the opposition the importance of the game or the conditions that the match is played in. However, it is the best simple system that I know of, so it's the one that I use.
There's even a 'Viv index', to compare versus Viv Richards' 181 from 125 balls v Sri Lanka in 1987. Read the full post.
Now the dust has settled on our Trans-Tasman cousin's #urnreturn, your only Ashes fix for some time may be this video: