Cricket review of 2012
Sky Sports takes a look back over a tumultuous year in the cricketing world.
By Graeme Mair - Twitter: @gmair 1
Last Updated: 30/12/12 1:38pm
The cricketing year had a bit of everything; from rows over text messages, fluctuations in form among the top teams, through to the retirement of several giants of the past decade.
As the dust settles on another 12 months, we've picked out the highs and lows from home and abroad.
Have a look through and then let us know your own thoughts by using the feedback form at the bottom of the page.
Tough at the top
England began the year at number one in the ICC Test rankings but found life at the top difficult. The batsmen collectively underperformed as Pakistan inflicted a 3-0 series whitewash in the Middle East, spinners Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman combining for 43 wickets.
It looked like being a similar story in Sri Lanka in March after Rangana Herath's 12 wickets in Galle condemned England to their fourth straight Test defeat.
But Kevin Pietersen and Graeme Swann came to the rescue in Colombo to earn a share of the two-match series for Andrew Strauss' men.
Under Alastair Cook's captaincy, England enjoyed a successful year in one-day internationals.
There was a change in the management structure towards the end of the year with Ashley Giles being appointed as England's limited-overs coach and team director Andy Flower stepping away from day-to-day involvement with the side to concentrate on strategy.
"It's tough being me"
The home summer began with a predictable 2-0 success over West Indies before the arrival of South Africa for the main event, a three-Test series with top spot in the world rankings at stake.
Hashim Amla stole the show at The Oval where his 311 not out made him the first South African to score a Test triple century and paved the way for his side's victory by an innings and 12 runs.
Pietersen's 149 in the drawn second Test at Headingley - one of his finest innings - was followed by a press conference in which he went public with the rift between himself and his team-mates and management, saying: "it's tough being me in this dressing room".
It then emerged Pietersen had been texting South Africa's players during the match at Headingley - the contents of which remain unclear - and England took the decision to drop Pietersen for the series decider at Lord's in the interests of team harmony.
Pietersen's replacement Jonathan Bairstow performed admirably with 95 and 53 but England were all out for 294 chasing 346 on the final day to surrender the series 2-0 and the world number one ranking to South Africa.
Smith strikes again
Strauss gave himself just over a week to reflect on his side's fall from grace before deciding to retire from all cricket with immediate effect.
Strauss, who averaged 30.74 in the final 18 of his 100 Tests compared with a career mark of 40.91, gave his declining form as the reason for his exit and denied the Pietersen saga had been much of a factor.
He became the third England captain to resign during, or immediately, after a home series against Graeme Smith's South Africa, following the path taken by Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan.
One-day skipper Cook was confirmed as Strauss' successor ahead of the tour of India, a place England last won in 1985.
Compliments to the Chef
Cook led by example in India, helping England recover from a heavy defeat in the series opener to end the year on a high with a 2-1 series victory.
The Essex batsman made scores of 176, 122 and 190 in the first three matches to become England's leading century maker with 23, one more than Geoff Boycott, Colin Cowdrey, Wally Hammond and Pietersen.
The turnaround was scripted by big runs from Cook, the "re-integrated" Pietersen and 37 wickets from spinners Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar, who outbowled their opposite numbers Pragyan Ojha and Ravchandran Ashwin after being belatedly paired together in the second Test.
Seamer James Anderson chipped in with 12 wickets and continued his hold over Sachin Tendulkar, who he has now dismissed more times than any other bowler in Tests.
England surrendered their World Twenty20 title, failing to make it through to the semi-finals under Stuart Broad's captaincy in Sri Lanka.
West Indies were the surprise winners, beating the host nation in the final in Colombo.
The return of opening batsman Chris Gayle to the fold after he settled his dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board and the career revival of his fellow Jamaican Marlon Samuels were key factors.
The bowling attack was led by seamer Ravi Rampaul and spinner Sunil Narine, who each took nine wickets in the tournament. Narine claimed 3-9 in the final as West Indies defended a total of 137-6, Samuels earning the man-of-the-match award for his 78 and 1-15.The women's tournament ran parallel and England fared better in that one, going down to Australia in the final of a competition they won in 2009. England skipper Charlotte Edwards was named player of the tournament.
The eras of dominance enjoyed by West Indies and Australia were a distant memory as the number one spot in the International Cricket Council's Test rankings continued to be passed around in 2012.
England's reign of exactly 12 months came to an end with a 2-0 series defeat at home to South Africa, who took over at number one.
The Proteas went unbeaten in Tests during the year, notching series wins over Sri Lanka, New Zealand, England and Australia - the last three of which came overseas.
Amla plundered 1,064 Test runs in 2012, while seamers Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn shared 120 wickets almost equally.
Clarke's double vision
Australia captain Michael Clarke become the first player in Test history to score four double hundreds in a calendar year.
He started off by scoring the 25th triple century in Test history - 329 not out - against India on his home ground in Sydney in the New Year Test.
That was followed later in the series with 210 in Adelaide as Australia completed a 4-0 whitewash.
And the New South Welshman was at it again at the end of the year with back-to-back scores of 259 not out and 230 against South Africa at Brisbane and Adelaide respectively, although his efforts failed to prevent the Proteas winning the series 1-0.
Century of centuries
Sachin Tendulkar became the first batsman to make 100 international hundreds with his 114 against Bangladesh at the Asia Cup in March.
The veteran Indian had been stuck on 99 for a full year during which he was twice dismissed in the 90s.
Tendulkar's milestone moment was his solitary century of 2012 and a tough series against England to finish the year left question marks hanging over the 39-year-old's future.
Champion effort from Warwickshire
Warwickshire and Hampshire carved up the domestic trophies between them during a summer - Nick Compton apart - dominated by seam bowling.
Chris Wright and Keith Barker shared 123 first-class wickets as Warwickshire claimed their first County Championship since 2004 and their coach Ashley Giles was rewarded with a move into the England set-up to take charge of the limited-overs teams.
Lancashire followed up their long-awaited championship last year by being relegated along with Worcestershire, who failed to replicate their escape act of 12 months ago.
Division Two champions Derbyshire booked their return to the top-flight for the first time since 2000 and Yorkshire were also promoted after just a year in the lower tier.
Somerset's Compton reached a 1,000 runs for the season on June 1 and finished with 1,494 in first-class cricket at an average of 99.60. Durham and England seamer Graham Onions was the leading first-class wicket taker in the country with 72.
Mark Boucher: Among the sadder stories of the year was the enforced retirement of South Africa wicketkeeper Mark Boucher after he was hit in the eye by a bail during a tour match at Somerset. Boucher, a veteran of 147 Tests and 295 ODIs, underwent surgery that saved his sight but quickly accepted he would not play international cricket again. The 36-year-old finished with a record of 555 Test dismissals, 139 more than the next best, and a batting average of 30.30, including five centuries.
Rahul Dravid: The batsman nicknamed 'The Wall' for his exemplary defensive technique decided to bring an end to his 16-year international career after a difficult final tour to Australia. It all began for Dravid with a near-miss at Lord's in 1996 when he edged behind off Chris Lewis for 95 in his maiden Test innings. That was just the start of a 164-Test career that featured 36 centuries. His tally of 13,288 Test runs leaves him behind the man who batted one place below him for India, Tendulkar, and Australia's Ricky Ponting. He spent much of his career standing at first slip and his 210 catches are a Test record, while his reign as captain featured notable away series wins in West Indies and England.
VVS Laxman: Dravid was followed into retirement later in the year by VVS Laxman, leaving Tendulkar as the last remaining member of the middle order that powered India for more than a decade. Laxman finished his 134-Test career with 8,781 runs - 15th on the all-time list - an average of 45.97. The most famous of his 17 centuries came at Eden Gardens against Australia in 2001 when his 281 was the catalyst for India's victory after they had been asked to follow-on.
Andrew Strauss: After playing in exactly 100 Tests, Strauss called time on his career in the wake of England's defeat to South Africa in the summer. The Middlesex opener scored 7,037 runs at an average of 40.91, including 21 centuries, the first of which came on debut in 2004. He captained England on 50 occasions, winning 24 of those including home-and-away Ashes triumphs and a year-long reign as the world number one side.
Ricky Ponting After 168 Tests and 13,378 runs, Ponting called time on his international career after Australia's defeat to South Africa in Perth. Australia's best batsman since Don Bradman, only Tendulkar has scored more Test runs and Tendulkar and Jacques Kallis more centuries. His captaincy reign was mixed; it included two World Cup victories and a 5-0 Ashes whitewash in 2006-07, but he lost his three other Ashes campaigns and his reign coincided with the end of his country's dominance.
Kevin Curran: The former Zimbabwe all-rounder collapsed and died while out jogging in Mutare at age of 53 in October. Curran played in 11 ODIs, was part of Zimbabwe's squad at both the 1983 and 1987 World Cups and also had a stint as his country's head coach between 2005-07.
Tom Maynard: The Surrey batsman died in June at the age of 23. Maynard was found dead on the District Line tube track after he had earlier fled from police on foot when they stopped his car. The son of former England batsman Matthew, he was in his second season with Surrey after joining from Glamorgan following the sacking of his farther as coach. A powerful right-handed batsman, Maynard scored four first-class centuries and two in limited-overs cricket and was on the radar of the England selectors as part of the second-string Lions squad.
Harry Pilling: The former Lancashire batsman died in September at the age of 69. He scored 15,279 first-class runs during 18 seasons at Old Trafford in the 1960s and 1970s and struck an unbeaten 70 to help the county to their first Gillette Cup in 1970.
Runako Morton: The Trinidad batsman died at the age of 33 in a one-vehicle car crash on his way home from a cricket match in Trinidad in March. He played 15 Tests and 56 ODIs for West Indies from 2002-2010, including two centuries in the 50-over format in 2006.
Don Wilson: A key member of the Yorkshire team that dominated the County Championship in the 1960s, Wilson died in July at the age of 74. A tall, accurate left-arm spinner, he claimed 100 wickets in a season on five occasions and won seven County Championship titles. Wilson toured with England twice, to India in 1963-64 and Australasia seven years later, taking 11 wickets in his six Test appearances.