How was 2010 : Cricket
Although the abiding memory of the year may prove to be the spot-fixing controversy that threatens to leave an indelible stain on the sport, that should not deflect from a 12 months that has, for England at least, featured a succession of high points.
They opened 2010 by battling to a creditable series draw against South Africa, before clinching a Test series in Bangladesh that acted as a precursor for the coup de grace - a triumph in the World Twenty20 that laid to rest England's long-held demons in the shorter form of the game.
It was a win that injected the whole squad with an optimism that fuelled a comfortable Test series win against Pakistan - where cricket took a back seat as controversy reigned - and the subsequent blistering start in the Ashes series which, at the time of writing, stands on a knife-edge ahead of the Boxing Day Test.
Elsewhere, India stormed to the top of the Test rankings and Australia began to enter a period of decline that threatens to prove terminal.
In the domestic game, Nottinghamshire surged to the County Championship title with a magnificent all-round display of attacking cricket against Lancashire on a dramatic final day. The much-maligned Clydesdale Bank 40 tournament, which failed to capture anyone's attention, was won by Warwickshire after a glorious Ian Bell century, while the protracted Friends Provident T20 tournament - you can have too much of a good thing, it seems - ended up in Hampshire's possession.
Star man of the year
The 37-year-old Sachin Tendulkar has raged against the dying light of his career by firing India to the top of the Test rankings. His insatiable lust for runs continues, with 1,543 plundered in Tests this year at an average of 85.72. He also showed his adaptability by starring in one-day cricket, becoming the first man to hammer 200 in a one day international.
After many years of Ashes torment, particularly in Australia, the crushing nature of England's 2nd Test victory was particularly enjoyable. It wasn't just a win, it was a mauling - England racked up 620 for 5, with Kevin Pietersen hammering 227, as they cruised to an innings-and-71-runs triumph. No matter what the outcome of the series - and credit to Australia for the way they bounced back to clinch the 3rd Test - it was the sort of win that will linger long in the memory for the way it plunged England's long-time adversaries into crisis mode.
This was the year that Andrew Flintoff finally brought the curtain down on his career, having endured an injury-blighted few years. As ever, his retirement prompted fierce debate - was he a great player, or was he a good player who enjoyed a great period? The halcyon days should not be forgotten - he will always be remembered for the 2005 Ashes success - but there were also difficult spells. In his final 20 Tests until retirement, Flintoff averaged 26.37 with the bat and 37.25 with the ball, with wicket-taking menace sacrificed for control.
Any one of the motley crew who have been handed the unenviable task of trying to follow in the footsteps of Shane Warne. Australia always knew that replacing the revered Warne, arguably the greatest bowler of all time, was going to be difficult - but the extent of their struggles has been shocking. Perhaps the starkest example was the decision to choose Xavier Doherty, whose Test record currently stands - and most likely will always remain at - an underwhelming three wickets at 102. Hardly Warne-esque.
When Bangladesh played a one-day series in New Zealand during February, they were never really in it - losing 3-0 having been comprehensively outplayed each time. Back on home soil it was a different story as they stormed to a 4-0 series win against the Black Caps - the other game was abandoned before a ball was bowled - that announced their arrival as a serious force on the world stage.
When England, so long derided for the inadequate nature of their one-day cricket, lifted the World Twenty20 title in May. Where once England fielders shuttled along the turf with an all-too-obvious lack of grace, Andy Flower's men hunted the ball rapaciously - and that's saying nothing of the devastating power-hitters that the team possessed. The final also allowed England to send a marker out to Australia ahead of the Ashes series later in the year, as Craig Kieswetter's 50 propelled them to a comfortable triumph.
Re: How was 2010 : Cricket
Re: How was 2010 : Cricket