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2015 was a year for the underdogs in International Cricket

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When the 2015 cricket calendar was released, you knew that two main events would take the headlines that being the ICC World Cup and the Ashes series.

Australia who had suffered major emotional turmoil in the months preceding the tournament with the death of Phillip Hughes and had the added pressure of playing at home.

After an early stumble against their trans-tasmanian neighbours New Zealand in one of the matches of the tournament, they didn't miss a beat on their way to their fifth World Cup victory - taking revenge on the Kiwis with a seven-wicket win in the final.

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Despite finishing runner-up, New Zealand emerged with their heads held high playing a scintillating brand of cricket led by their captain Brendon McCullum. The semi-final against South Africa will be one game that won't be forgotten by cricket fans across the globe.

There were plenty of disappointments too. South Africa didn't choke as they have been known to do in previous major tournaments, but they left heartbroken yet again and further improved the chances of their ageing core of outstanding cricketers not winning a major honour in their respective careers.

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England didn't even make it through to the knockout stage, but it seemed to be a real wake-up call they required. Clear changes to how they play the 50-over game were implemented and a sense of freedom have replaced the rigidness that seemed in place beforehand.

Turning to the test match arena, where England had a terrific warm-up to the Ashes by drawing their series 1-1 with New Zealand in two high-quality matches. On the other hand, Australia had a Caribbean cruise defeating the West Indies 2-0, where they hardly had to break a sweat.

The first Ashes test was at Cardiff, where England took an early lead in the series by winning by 169 runs. The result was surprising to many observers, but parity was restored when Australia demolished their rivals by 405 runs at Lord's, bowling them out for a paltry 103 in the second innings.

England v Australia: 2nd Investec Ashes Test - Day Four

This was more like what was predicted beforehand, and the Aussies were expected to romp away and claim their first series win on UK soil since 2001.

Not so fast responded England and they won the third test at Edgbaston by eight wickets. What would Australia's response be at Trentbridge?

The answer to that was a complete humiliation as Stuart Broad ran through the Australian batting lineup like a hot knife through butter to send them on their way to be all out for 60 on day one.

Records fell left, right and centre and there was no way back for the tourists, who were on the wrong side of an innings and 78 run defeat and losing their grip on the urn.

There was considerable jubilation for England, and not even defeat in the final test at the Oval could change that feeling. Change was in the air for Australia with Michael Clarke and Chris Rogers bowed out of the game and Steve Smith officially took over as captain.

Michael Clarke Media Opportunity

The art of winning away from home has never proved more difficult to do at this present time. Good teams are getting beaten comfortably away from home. It used to be the case that you could depend on South Africa bucking the trend, but they were bamboozled by the spin of India on their way to a 3-0 series loss, the first time in eight years they had lost an away series.

There are still issues to deal with in the game, largely surrounding the troubled nations of the West Indies and Sri Lanka, who are dealing with a major overhaul after the retirements of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara.

CRICKET-NZL-SRI

The improvement of New Zealand and Bangladesh is pleasing to see while Pakistan - who are so often an architect of their own troubles -have a youthful team that can cause plenty of problems for their opponents.

The T20 game continues to grow from strength to strength with many countries having their own domestic leagues and with a World Cup in this format coming up in March, the interest will be there for some time yet.

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Topics:
ODI World Cup
The Ashes
Australia cricket
Cricket
England cricket

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