As much it is a game of bat and ball, the emotional ride the players and fans go through and the toll it has on their mental health is not easy for everyone to understand. Elation, high-fives, pats on the back, a shoulder to rely upon and quite a lot of somber faces and tears – All of these come as a package in the game, leaving no opportunity for the fans to choose.
The last 10 years had a lot of moments which made the fans shed tears. They literally witnessed everything – A World Cup final lost without losing, a team of superstars weeping having lost a World Cup semifinal, ball-tampering controversies and not to forget – they also had to deal with the most untimeliest of deaths of a beloved cricketer.
It is difficult to narrow down some incidents which must’ve had an adverse impact on the fans, but here are the ten most heartbreaking moments of this decade.
10. Guptill’s point-blank throw to run Dhoni out, India’s heartbreak
Indian fans took New Zealand for granted before their semifinal tussle in the recently concluded World Cup, some of them even wanted to face them ahead of England. As it turned out, the Kiwis pulled out a rabbit from the hat when no one expected them to and pulled off a well-deserved win.
The Indians had some respite during the run chase when MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja were in the middle, scoring runs at will. It seemed like they were back in contention to reach the final after their top order failure, but things started turning in New Zealand‘s favor once Jadeja was dismissed.
MS Dhoni hit a six over point in the 49th over, which kept the fans on the edge of their seats but the next ball, an outrageous direct-hit from Martin Guptill from deep backward square-leg saw the Indian dream end on a somber note. Tears nearly rolled out of the former Indian captain’s eyes and the saddening bit about the moment is, that potentially could be his final game in international cricket.
9. Brathwaite’s joy, Stokes’ disarray – West Indies vs England, World T20 final 2016
19 needed off six cherries – The equation was down to this to win the T20 crown in 2016. England handed the most important 19th over to Chris Jordan and he gave away just 8 runs, giving Ben Stokes the best possible chance he could to win the trophy for the English.
Unfortunately, Carlos Brathwaite had some other ideas. Stokes came steaming in for the final over, got flicked away towards the fine-leg region for a six. The next one flew way over the long-on boundary, followed by a miss-hit towards long-off which again cleared the fence by quite a distance. The man was on song, Eden Gardens was erupting in elation, but Stokes was down on his feet, absolutely heartbroken.
Then came a moment which will remain etched in the memory of many in the voice of Ian Bishop, “Carlos Brathwaite!! Remember the name”. While many kept hailing the Caribbean all-rounder’s brilliance, a lot of them also felt the pain Stokes was going through. It definitely wasn’t easy for him to take that in, but the lad did come out as an even better cricketer.
8. The Sandpaper Gate and its repercussions
During the second Test between South Africa and Australia in Cape Town, Steve Smith, David Warner, and Cameron Bancroft got themselves involved in a controversy that shook the cricketing universe. With the fans reacting quite vehemently in the first few days, all the three players were suspended temporarily from the game.
But the fans started coming around and started backing the players when Warner and Smith broke down while talking to the press. There was another heartbreaking incident when certain police personnel dragged Steve Smith like a criminal in the Cape Town airport, videos of which went viral.
While the controversy was definitely of the biggest in cricket in the last decade, fans really felt bad for the players witnessing its repercussions. They eagerly waited for these two gentlemen to be back in the game, and they did with a bang in the Ashes 2019 and Pakistan Test series.
7. The wall hanging his boots without a farewell
Life of Rahul Dravid was perhaps the toughest among all the cricketing legends. He was criminally under-rated while he was playing, people kept cheering whenever his wicket fell, not to disrespect the great man but in elation to see Sachin Tendulkar come into bat and most importantly, as Harsha Bhogle famously said, he is the wolf who lives for the pack.
Rahul Dravid remained in the sidelines, supported the protagonists and whenever they failed, he himself took the responsibilities on his shoulders and perhaps put his life at stake to help India win games. No cricketer in history put in so much effort for the team, raising his hand for every situation they needed him.
Unfortunately for the great man, he called it time on his career without receiving a proper farewell. This came as a huge disappointment for all the Indian cricket admirers, who began feeling his void when the side was not able to perform well during his finals few days and the first few days after his departure.
6. Tigers’ diminished dream – Pakistan vs Bangladesh, Asia Cup final 2012
Bangladesh entered the final of the 2012 Asia Cup, defeating the other strong contenders in Sri Lanka and India in the group stages. This was the period where they started exerting their dominance on home soil and a golden era marked its commencement. The only team they defeated them in the group stages was Pakistan, who were their opponents in the final.
Pakistan batted first and banking on some good contributions down the order from Shahid Afridi, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Hammad Azam, they posted a respectable 236 runs on the board. Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan’s half-centuries nearly kept them ahead in the tie, but Pakistan pulled things back with quick wickets.
The final went to the last ball of the game, with the Tigers needing 4 runs to win their first-ever major trophy. Unfortunately for them, it couldn’t happen as they fell short by 2 runs. The whole nation flooded in tears, including all their players and that was a sight which melted the hearts of most fans across the globe.
5. Sangakkara’s smile in the background – India vs Sri Lanka, 2011 World Cup final
“Dhoni finishes off in style, a magnificent strike into the crowd, India lifts the World Cup after 28 years, the party begins in the dressing room” – These lines will be etched in the memory of Indian cricket lovers’ hearts forever, but at the same time, these lines will keep haunting the Lankan fans forever. They put up a great fight to make the final so interesting, but the trophy didn’t go their way.
Once Dhoni hit the winning run and went berserk with celebrations alongside Yuvraj Singh, there was one man in the background – the Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara, just smiling. The gentleman’s dream was broken once again in the final hurdle, having suffered the same fate four years ago in 2007. But for him to have the generosity to accept the defeat with a smile left all the fans teary-eyed.
Watching him smile that way perhaps one of the saddest sights of the decade. While it epitomized the glorious human being he is, it also taught a lesson for so many kids on how to accept failures and keep moving on.
4. The Proteas tears – South Africa vs New Zealand, 2015 World Cup semifinal
One of the most heartbreaking cricket matches took place in the 2015 World Cup when South Africa locked horns with New Zealand in the semifinal. South Africa made a whopping 281 runs batting first, courtesy some outrageous batting from Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers, and David Miller.
Brendon McCullum gave them a spectacular start in the run chase and despite losing some quick wickets, Grant Elliott and Corey Anderson’s partnership kept them alive in the game. Things went down to the final over, where Daniel Vettori squeezed a boundary off Dale Steyn and gave the strike to Elliott, with five runs needed in two deliveries.
Elliott deposited the ball into the stands and gave New Zealand their most memorable win in World Cups, but every South African player that day was left in tears. Being one of the fan-favorite teams, their emotions resonated with a lot of fans across the globe, who could never get over with the sight of Morne Morkel sitting on the floor and sobbing the way he did.
3. A controversial finale with a heartbreaking finish – 2019 England vs New Zealand, World Cup final
No team would’ve wanted to win a World Cup final like this, but destiny had it written for England to win it this way. One could definitely argue saying that both sides should’ve shared the trophy, but the intention was clear from both ends, no one wanted to share anything after coming so far.
What resulted was a controversial super-over tie which saw England emerge victorious on boundary-count throughout the 51 overs they batted. A lot of fans wanted New Zealand to win the trophy and maybe the emotional inclination towards them had an impact on their opinions, but it truly was heartbreaking to see the Kiwis lose out that way.
One of the standout moments throughout the final was the way Kane Williamson carried himself and the team through, not making any controversial statements or cursing any of the existing laws. The Kiwis fought but were not fortunate enough.
2. End of an era like no other – Sachin Tendulkar
On October 10th, 2013, Sachin Tendulkar announced that the upcoming series against West Indies will be his final assignment in Indian colours. The coming one month was one of the saddest for all of his fans, who were definitely going to find it difficult to see an Indian team without him being the central figure.
On November 15th, 2013, Tendulkar made a half-century and was dismissed for one final time in his career. The next day, India won the Test by a thumping margin, thus bringing curtains to perhaps the greatest cricketing career of all time. Sachin Tendulkar from then on was a part of history and nothing was more difficult to accept than this.
After the post-match presentation, Sachin’s speech showing gratitude to everyone who supported him in this journey lasted nearly 17 minutes and made the entire country weep. It was perhaps one of the greatest farewell speeches ever given and the void he left behind was felt for many days to come.
1. A bouncer that made the world weep – Phillip Hughes
On 25th November 2014, Phillip Hughes failed to read the bounce off a Sean Abbott delivery and his failed attempt to play a pull shot saw the ball hit him on his neck. He feinted in the next few seconds and was rushed to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney. A couple of days later, he succumbed to the injury and took his final breath.
This incident had a severe impact on all of his Australian teammates, especially skipper Michael Clarke. While giving his Eulogy, Clarke broke down in a way he never did and as they carried his coffin out for one final time, which included another cricketing friend in Aaron Finch, there was no eye in the cricketing universe which did not weep.
Perhaps the saddest story that happened since the dawn of the game, a talent of his caliber being taken away that way was very saddening. Yet, he remained alive in the hearts of the fans as the guy who remained unbeaten on 63, till his very final moment.
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