Christmas season is upon us, so in the build-up to the big day itself we at ESPN Towers will be picking out a host of top-five moments, and then asking YOU to vote for your favourites.
What was the goal of 2012? Who are the top five bad boys of the past 12 months? Who had years to forget? Come back each day for a new topic and cast your vote to pick the winners of each category…
Alastair CookAlastair Cook got married on New Year's Eve 2011 and hasn't looked back. That's not a comment on his domestic situation but rather a reflection on a remarkable year in international cricket. While England struggled, Cook was at worst reliable, at best irresistible. He led the ODI team to a whitewash of Pakistan and a 4-0 thrashing of the Aussies on the way to the No. 1 ranking, scoring three hundreds himself, then ascended to the Test captaincy in the wake of Andrew Strauss' retirement and immediately reeled off three consecutive Test centuries in India to set a new England record. So assured was his touch, he even managed to sort out the KP debacle.
Hashim AmlaThe Mighty Hash was already tagged as one of the world's most elegant and inexorable run-makers but with his unbeaten 311 at The Oval he broke new ground, as he became the first South African to score a Test triple-hundred. His century in the second innings at Lord's was no less important, with none of his team-mates reaching 50, as South Africa clinched the series and pulled the top-ranking rug from under England. Over three formats, Amla scored 900 runs at 112.50 against England - although there was some consolation when he went and did it to Australia too, a blistering 196 in Perth securing another memorable away series win in December.
Michael ClarkeAhead of a double-bill Ashes year (there will be back-to-back series in 2013), Australia's captain was in ominously good touch. Michael Clarke began 2012 by scoring 329 not out against India and went on to add another three double-hundreds, including in consecutive innings against South Africa, the world's No. 1 Test side - a run of batting dominance that broke the record for 200-plus scores in a calendar year previously held by Don Bradman and Ricky Ponting. He also proved his captaincy nous against West Indies in Barbados, as Australia became only the second side in history to win a Test having declared their first innings when still behind.
Marlon SamuelsThe burgeoning revival of West Indies cricket was confirmed by their feel-good World Twenty20 victory, with Marlon Samuels providing the innings that won them the final against hosts Sri Lanka. But Samuels' purple reign began six months earlier in England, when he averaged 96.50 over three Tests. His languid driving and solid defence were a feature of the series and the century he scored at Trent Bridge confirmed a late-flowering talent - it was Samuels' third Test hundred, coming almost 12 years after his debut, and he had added two more in 2012, one of them a double. His bromance with Sky pundit Nasser Hussain - inexplicably Samuels' favourite cricketer - was also a highlight of the summer.
Nick ComptonEngland's new Test opener is not the glamour name on this list - at times his batting could make Cook look like Virender Sehwag - but Nick Compton has set the benchmark for sheer hard work and cussed determination. Unfortunately, his force of will could do nothing about the weather, as rain meant he missed out on becoming the first man since 1988 (and only the ninth ever) to score 1000 first-class runs before the end of May. He crossed the mark the next day and ended the season with 1494 first-class runs at an average of 99.60. A maiden fifty in his third Test then edged him further out of his granddad Denis' long shadow.