2022 a big year in cricket for ECB, Yorkshire, England Women, Josh Bohannon and Lauren Bell
Heather Knight's England aiming to regain Women's Ashes, retain the 50-over World Cup and win Commonwealth Games gold on home soil; England and Wales Cricket Board and Yorkshire will be watched closely; Josh Bohannon and Lauren Bell looking to press for international honours in 2022
By Steve Turner and David Ruse
Last Updated: 12/01/22 9:32am
It's roll on 2022 as far as England's Test team are concerned after they suffered a record nine defeats in a chastening 2021 – but who else is set for a big cricketing year?
The England and Wales Cricket Board
Last year can hardly be described as a vintage one for English cricket's governing body, despite the inaugural Hundred managing to charm most observers.
The ECB was criticised by the prime minister for its supposed over-reaction to Ollie Robinson's historical discriminatory tweets, then threatened with government intervention for failing to go far enough in its handling of the Yorkshire racism scandal.
Leaving aside the 'which way is the wind blowing?' feel to some of the political posturing, the ECB has acknowledged the way the game is administered can lead to disparity, and in the summer of 2022 the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket - announced in March 2021 - will deliver its recommendations, which many will hope have the potential to foment real change at all levels.
Elsewhere, the ECB starts the year having to deal with a familiar gripe, that its embrace of white-ball cricket and the accompanying financial rewards is tilting the scales too far away from the Test format.
Given some of this criticism, mildly-put yet pointed, has come from English cricket's leading wicket-taker - toiling during another Ashes humiliation at the age of 39 - ears may have to start pricking.
If the stock of women's cricket in England has never been higher - another tick for the Hundred - then a packed 2022 represents a chance for its international players to cash in.
First up is The Ashes, a points-based series played across all three formats in Australia - one Test match, followed by three T20 internationals and then three one-day internationals.
Having last won the series in 2014 - home defeats in 2015 and 2019 sandwiched a draw in Australia in 2017 - England have named a 17-player squad led by Heather Knight and, for the first time, an accompanying 'A' squad which includes teenage star-in-the-making Alice Capsey.
Beyond that, a defence of the 50-over World Cup won in 2017 begins in March, live on Sky Sports, with the summer bringing a first appearance for cricket at the Commonwealth Games - this year held in Birmingham - since 1998.
Yorkshire County Cricket Club
Yorkshire face a big rebuilding phase in the wake of the Azeem Rafiq affair, both on and off the field.
Off it, they need to re-engage and build back trust with their communities and the wider game, proving that the club is one for all cricketers, regardless of your background, and that the poisonous atmosphere Rafiq detailed in his harrowing testimony to the DCMS committee has been eradicated for good.
The ECB says Yorkshire is suspended from hosting international or major matches until it has "clearly demonstrated that it can meet the standards expected of an international venue, ECB member and first-class county".
Headingley is due to stage England's third and final Test against New Zealand in June and also the third one-day international against South Africa in July so whether that comes to pass remains to be seen.
The fallout at Yorkshire has seen 16 members of backroom staff, including director of cricket Martyn Moxon and head coach Andrew Gale, depart as part of the "significant change" new chair Lord Patel says is required.
Yorkshire legend Darren Gough has been appointed interim managing director and has vowed to make the club "a better and more inclusive place". Success on the field is very much the secondary challenge in 2022.
With England's Test batting line-up having frequently collapsed over the last 12 months - and for a lot longer than that, to be fair - there could be opportunities for fresh faces.
Lancashire's Bohannon may be one of them, with former England assistant coach and now Warwickshire sporting director, Paul Farbrace, namechecking the 24-year-old as an "emerging" talent with the ability to bat long.
"Bohannon batted for a day and a half against Warwickshire last summer by playing forward when the ball was pitched up and back when it was short," Farbrace said of the Bolton-born player in the Daily Mail.
Bohannon amassed 853 runs in 14 games for Lancashire last season at an average over 53, with two centuries - 170 from 334 deliveries against Farbrace's Warwickshire as well as 127 not out from 277 deliveries in an innings win over Roses rivals Yorkshire - and five further fifties.
The right-hander struck a half-century on the Lions' recent tour of Australia and will hope to turn to win full international honours at some stage soon.
Nicknamed The Shard due to her lofty frame, seam bowler Bell, 21, was a towering presence for runners-up Southern Brave during the inaugural edition of The Hundred.
Bell took 12 wickets for Brave at an economy rate below seven, with two of those scalps coming against Oval Invincibles in the final.
The pacer befuddled Invincibles stars Dane van Niekerk and Capsey with back-of-the-hand slower balls in the Lord's showpiece having spent much of the competition unleashing devastating in-swingers.
Bell's array of skills should help her step up to international cricket and she will be part of England Women's Ashes tour early this year, albeit in the A squad as opposed to the first-team party.
There is scope for players to be transferred into the main squad, though, so an England debut in The Ashes is not out of the question, while if that fails to materialise, Bell will hope to push for a place in the squad for the 50-over World Cup that follows or the T20 fixtures at the Commonwealth Games.
Bell has no doubt picked up plenty from playing alongside Anya Shrubsole at Brave. Soon she could be teaming with her fellow seamer for England and may yet go on to be her long-term replacement.