Because of the demanding nature of the sport and the packed schedule of matches these days, it is challenging even for the best cricketers to perform consistently at all times. Bad patches are quite common in sport but sometimes it is cruel enough to bring a reputed international career to its end.
Players struggle for long periods only to bounce back later while others simply call it quits when they realise that time is not on their side.
Let us look at 5 international cricketers of whom a lot was expected, but who ended up disappointing us this year.
The passage of time is perhaps the only constant in life and it is sad to reflect on how even the greatest lose their power with time. With Clarke, the end was perhaps a bit premature but he had been bravely fighting a losing battle against his body.
Long injury layoffs and a poor run of form made life difficult for Clarke and his batting average nose-dived this year. He could manage only 219 runs at an average of 36.50 in ODIs this year. His highest for this year in ODIs was a valiant 74 against the Kiwis as he led his team to World Cup glory.
Everyone thought that Clarke would hang up his boots, but he chose to play on in Tests. He had a disastrous Ashes series in England, where he and his team looked clueless against the moving ball and he retired soon after. He finished with a batting average of 21.10 in Test matches for this year.
#4 Shane Watson
It is hardly a euphemism to suggest that Shane Watson is well past his prime and no longer the all-rounder that he was in his heydays. One of the most important contributors with the bat and the ball over the years, the current year has witnessed Watson’s form undergo a sharp decline.
Watson has only scored 336 runs at an average of 37.33 and picked up 4 wickets in ODIs this year. His form in Test was even worse as he managed to score only 182 runs at an average of 30.33 and picked up 4 wickets in Tests this year.
Following the disastrous Ashes campaign where he failed to perform as per expectations, he announced his retirement from Tests. Though he remains a utility player for the Aussies in ODIs, time may just be running out for Watson unless he starts scoring big again.
Injuries and a subsequent drop in pace have made him largely ineffective as a bowler and his inclusion in the team as a pure batsman as of now remains questionable because he is not scoring heavily.
#3 Hashim Amla
When in full flow, Hashim Amla can be a treat to watch, bedazzling everyone with his technical astuteness. During those times, it does not seem like any force in the world can dismiss Amla as he merrily keeps piling up the runs.
Though Amla has had a decent year in terms of ODI cricket where he accumulated 1062 runs at an impressive average of 50.57, he has woefully struggled to score runs in Test matches. It is unthinkable that a batsman of Amla’s stature has scored only 232 Test runs at a meagre average of 25.77 this year.
His technique against spin was found wanting as he struggled to score runs throughout the recently concluded Test series against India. His inconsistency was alarming and it became one of the primary reasons behind the heavy defeats suffered by South Africa in the series.
#2 Mitchell Johnson
Prior to this year’s Ashes series, there was much anticipation that the Aussie bowlers led by Mitchell Johnson would steamroll the English batsmen. But contrary to expectations, the Australian quicks failed to impress and Johnson’s lackadaisical performance was only the beginning of the end for him.
Johnson has struggled to pick wickets this year having bagged only 30 scalps in Tests and 18 in ODIs. He looked flat and the sting was clearly missing. His greatest criticism has been that he cannot deliver unless he finds some assistance from the pitch.
He surprised everyone by suddenly announcing his retirement in the middle of the Test series against the Kiwis.
“I’m really happy with my decision and I just lost that hunger in the end to play out on those tough days, that’s where my decision came,” Johnson said while justifying his decision to retire
#1 Virat Kohli
There was a time when Virat Kohli seemed to be scoring centuries for fun. Having already scored 23 centuries and over 6000 runs in ODIs, his prolific records justify the belief that he would go on to be one of the best batsmen in the coming years.
But a simple comparison of his overall career statistics with his achievements in 2015 strongly suggests that Kohli has had a torrid time of late. Things have not quite been the same after Kohli had a woeful summer in England last year and he has, at times, looked a mere shadow of his former self.
Kohli has managed only 623 runs at an average of 36.64 in ODIs this year. In Tests, he had fared slightly better scoring 640 runs at an average of 42.66. Kohli’s ODI numbers are clearly worrying signs as he is supposed to be India’s best batsman now.
India will hope that he can emerge quickly from his prolonged slump in form and start dictating terms to the opposition once again.