2020 has been an extraordinary year whichever way it is looked at. Despite the unprecedented disruption by Covid-19, a substantial amount of cricket was played in the second half of the year.
As the year winds down, let's look at some of the most significant cricketing events that took place in 2020.
Records galore in the Women's World Cup final
Women's cricket often got the jump on the men's game but did not quite become as prominent. That is why March 8 will go down as the most significant day in the history of women's cricket.
The final of the ICC Women's World Cup 2020 saw the hosts Australia outplay India at the great Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). The whole atmosphere was something that the women professionals were not familiar with. The final concluded with a post-match concert by international pop-star Katy Perry.
The MCG recorded a staggering 86,174 spectators which was comfortably the highest women's sporting fixture in Australia. It was the highest attended women's cricket match and the second-highest attended women's sporting event worldwide. Also, the match was the highest attended one in T20 cricket, men's or women's, worldwide.
From 86,174 to Zero
The cricketing fraternity in Australia were yet to get over the electrifying final of the Women's World Cup. But three days after the historic event, it was revealed, to everyone's shock, that a person in the crowd at the MCG had tested positive for Covid-19.
Things changed so drastically that in the space of five days, the number of spectators in the ground was reduced from 86,174 to zero. The first ODI of the three-match series between Australia and New Zealand was held behind closed doors. By then, the world was struck by the Covid-19 so hard that the series was cancelled midway. All the bilateral series as well as domestic tournaments were being called off. The Pakistan Super League (PSL) continued for a few days in empty grounds but got postponed on March 17, becoming the last star to fall.
Cricket reborn in bio-bubble
The world came to a halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The virus had a huge impact on cricket with a number of series and tournaments being cancelled. Amid all these, the three-match Test series between the hosts England and West Indies came as a lifeline. International cricket returned after as many as 117 days in a new form under a biosecure bubble. The series produced some superb tussle between bat and ball. England won the series 2-1 and it was the first time since 1888 that they won a three-match series coming from behind at home. In the third and final Test, England fast bowler Stuart Broad became the seventh bowler and fourth fast bowler in Tests to pick up 500 wickets.
'Black Lives Matter'
On May 25, a 46-year old black man called George Floyd was brutally killed by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His death triggered a worldwide protest against racism. People from all walks of life joined the protest.
The cricketers made gestures like taking a knee and raising a fist in solidarity with the 'Black Lives Matter' movement. Michael Holding, one of the most feared bowlers of his era, fought back tears while speaking about the racial prejudice his family had to face on Sky Sports during the Test series between England and the West Indies. "Even if it (Black Lives Matter movement) is a baby step at a time, even a snail's pace, but I'm hoping it will continue in the right direction. Even at a snail's pace, I don't care," he said.
James Anderson reaches 600 Test wickets
The three-match Test series between England and Pakistan was the second series under the bio-bubble. In the third Test of the series, James Anderson became the first-ever fast bowler and fourth bowler overall in the history of Tests to take 600 wickets.
The series was won by England 1-0. The 38-year old was the second fastest after Muttiah Muralitharan in terms of balls bowled to reach the landmark. Only Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble have more wickets than Anderson in Tests.
ICC T20 World Cup called off
The ICC T20 World Cup, which was scheduled to run from October 19 to November 15 in Australia, was postponed almost three months before the scheduled date owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. The announcement meant that the BCCI could use this window to host the Indian Premier League which they eventually did in the UAE. However, the next T20 World Cup is less than one year away which will be held in India in October 2021.
Test championship points system amended
Cricketing action was disrupted big time by the Covid-19 pandemic and as a result of that, many of the Test matches that are part of the ICC Test Championship have been postponed. The original regulations suggested that the incomplete matches would be treated as a draw and teams would share the points. But the ICC cricket committee led by Anil Kumble recommended that the teams will be ranked in order of the percentage of points earned. The ICC, on November 19, confirmed the amendment of the points system.
MS Dhoni bids adieu to cricket
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, inarguably the greatest Indian captain and one of the finest to play the game, retired from international cricket on August 25, India's Republic Day. Dhoni confirmed his retirement through an Instagram post which read, "Thanks. Thanks a lot for your love and support throughout. From 1929 hrs consider me as Retired." His teammate and long-term friend Suresh Raina also announced his retirement on the same day.
Dhoni led India to a World T20 title in 2007, ICC World Cup title in 2011 and ICC Champions Trophy win in 2013.
Dhoni's last international appearance was in the 2019 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.
Dean Jones passes away
Former Australian cricketer and one of the most recognisable voices behind the microphone Dean Jones died of a massive heart attack in Mumbai on September 24. Jones was part of the Star Sports Select Dugout commentary panel in this year's Indian Premier League (IPL)
Deano, as he is best known, was a renowned cricket pundit apart from being a fantastic cricketer.
He was particularly popular in the Indian subcontinent. His show called 'Prof Deano' on NDTV was loved by the fans. He used to commentate on various franchise leagues in the world and coach in some as well.
Jones was remembered in the Boxing Day Test in the presence of his family and former Australia skipper Allan Border. Australia skipper Tim Paine led his team to the ground with a number of players entering the MCG wearing zinc on their bottom lips, a look that Jones was famous for.
Crowd returns after eight months
The Covid-19 pandemic had forced international series and domestic competitions to be played in empty grounds for almost four months. But a sense of normality returned when the first of the three-match ODI series between India and Australia was played at 50 per cent crowd capacity, much to the delight of the spectators. On the same day, New Zealand and West Indies welcomed the return of the crowd in Auckland in the opening match of the T20 series. Though a lot of countries are not yet ready to welcome the spectators, these instances will surely bring some positivity among the spectators.
India's epic comeback
India, in the first match in Adelaide, succumbed to 36 which was their lowest total in Tests and the lowest ever in this century. India, after a shameful defeat, had to play the second match without Virat Kohli, who had taken paternity leave and an injured Mohammed Shami, their premier fast bowler.
But India scripted one of the most memorable comebacks in the history of cricket led by the stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane. India won the match by eight wickets which was also their biggest victory in terms of wickets against Australia in Australia.