Timeline 2 July 10, 2011

Bradman's last to Tendulkar's 50th

A look at Test cricket's milestones from the second half of the last century and the first decade of this one

June-August 1948
The Invincibles tour and Bradman's retirement

Don Bradman led the Australian team to England for the first Ashes after the Second World War, his last tour as an international cricketer. Thousands flocked to the five Tests (the first five-day Tests in England), which Australia won 4-0 - including a chase of 404 runs in a day to win the Headingley match - earning them the nickname the Invincibles. In his final innings Bradman needed four runs to finish with an average of 100; he was out for a duck and immortalised on 99.94.

June-August 1950
West Indies' first series win in England

Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine took 59 wickets to spin West Indies to a series win, but it was the batting of the three Ws - Everton Weekes, Frank Worrell and Clyde Walcott - that drew and mesmerised the crowds that summer. They lost the opener at Old Trafford but came back to win the next three by 326 runs, 10 wickets, and an innings and 56 runs respectively.

October 1952
Pakistan make their Test debut

With the partition of India in 1947, Test cricket gained another team, albeit five years later. For Pakistan's first Test, they returned to India, playing in Delhi. Abdul Kardar, who had played for India, led the new team, who lost by an innings. Vinoo Mankad took 13 wickets, including a career-best 8 for 52.

June-August 1953
England regain the Ashes

England regained the Ashes for the first time since the Bodyline series, with a 1-0 victory in the Coronation year. It was the first Ashes series captained by Len Hutton, England's first full-time professional captain. They won by eight wickets in the final Test at The Oval, where Tony Lock and Jim Laker took nine second-innings wickets.

November 1954-March 1955
England retain the Ashes

Frank Tyson helped England retain the Ashes with a series performance no one could have predicted at the end of the first Test, in which he took 1 for 160 in an innings defeat. Tyson tore through Australia, taking 10 in the second, nine in the third (including 7 for 27 - the spell so fast and furious, it earned him the nickname "Typhoon"), and six in the fourth as England sealed the series 3-1. Brian Statham provided good support with 18 wickets.

January 1955
Pakistan's first home Test

Three years after their maiden Test, in India, Pakistan hosted their neighbours for their first Test on home soil, in Dacca. The match was the first of five drawn Tests in the series, a sign of the times, when both teams played attritional cricket, preferring draws to risking losing to the other. Forty-five years later Bangladesh hosted India at the same venue for their maiden Test.

March 1955
The lowest Test innings total

New Zealand were bowled out for 26, breaking South Africa's record for the lowest innings total in Test history, in a rain-affected game in Auckland. They managed 200 in the first innings and conceded a lead of 46 to England, but in their second innings lasted just 27 overs on a slow, dry pitch that had variable bounce and was taking spin.

July 1956
Laker takes 10

Jim Laker became the first Test bowler to take all 10 wickets in an innings, in the Ashes Test at Old Trafford. He had achieved the feat two months earlier as well, for Surrey against the Australians, but while he had taken 12 in that game, Laker managed 19 in Manchester. England won the Test by an innings and 170 runs, and the series 2-1.

January 1958
The longest innings

Hanif Mohammad batted heroically for 16 hours and 13 minutes to save the Barbados Test after Pakistan had conceded a first-innings lead of 473. It was the longest innings in Test history in terms of minutes - 970.

February-March 1958
Sobers makes 365

In the same series in which Hanif Mohammad failed to break Len Hutton's record of 364 runs during his marathon innings, 21-year-old Garry Sobers succeeded with an unbeaten 365 at Sabina Park. Incredibly it was Sobers' first Test hundred. He was supported by Conrad Hunte's 260 - the two added 446 - and West Indies won by an innings and 174 runs.

December 1960
The first tied Test

Australia needed one run off the final two balls of the Brisbane Test against West Indies, with a wicket in hand. Lindsay Kline hit to square leg and the non-striker, Ian Meckiff, raced down the pitch, but Joe Solomon threw down the wicket with only the width of one stump for a target. Frank Worrell's West Indians became hugely popular with Australians fans on that tour. The two teams have competed for the Frank Worrell Trophy since.

August 1964
Trueman gets to 300

Fred Trueman became the first bowler to take 300 Test wickets, during the drawn Ashes Test at The Oval. When he dismissed Ian Redpath and Garth McKenzie off successive balls, it seemed possible he would get to the landmark with a hat-trick. Neil Hawke survived the hat-trick ball but did end up as Trueman's 300th victim. Trueman played two more Tests and finished with 307 wickets.

Covered pitches

Through the 1950s there had been a lot of debate over the merit of covering pitches during Test matches. There were trials at different levels - pitch ends and bowlers' run-ups being covered wh¬ile the rest of the pitch remained exposed once play began - mostly to find a solution for the time lost when rain ruined a pitch. In the 1960s in England, and then elsewhere, uncovered pitches were gradually phased out. Not everyone supported the move, especially since it made pitches more or less uniform across the world, and made batsmen susceptible on any wicket that offered more than a little support to bowlers.

The front-foot no-ball rule

In the 1950s many bowlers started developing a dragging action with their back foot, which made it difficult for umpires to judge no-balls, and allowed these bowlers to deliver the ball off 19 yards or so. The front-foot rule was brought in to counter these illegal deliveries. According to the rule the bowler's back foot must land within and not touching the return crease and the front foot must land with some part of the foot, whether grounded or raised, behind the popping crease.

October-November 1969
New Zealand's maiden series win

Nearly 40 years after they made their Test debut, New Zealand won their first series, in Pakistan, 1-0. Their victory came in Lahore, where spinners Hedley Howarth and Vic Pollard bowled Pakistan out for 114. The visitors then hung on for a draw in Dacca after a valiant tail-end stand between Bob Cunis, who batted for close to two hours, and Ken Wadsworth.

January-March 1970
South Africa are isolated

The South African government's practice of apartheid, and its cricket board's whites-only policy, forced the international cricket fraternity to end relations with the country. South Africa were fresh off a 4-0 battering of Australia at home, and while the move was a social necessity, it meant international cricket lost several talented players, among them Graeme Pollock, Barry Richards, Mike Procter and Eddie Barlow.

December 1970-February 1971
A seven-Test Ashes

England won the only seven-Test series ever played, 2-0. The third match, at the MCG, was washed out (the first-ever ODI was played on the last day, a 40-over game organised to entertain the crowd), and England won the fourth - by a huge margin after John Snow took 7 for 40 - and the seventh. But the series is mostly remembered for its controversies - there was a lot of hostility between the teams, the umpiring was poor, and England's bowlers used short-pitched bowling to intimidate Australia's young line-up.

February-August 1971
India's overseas series wins

Sunil Gavaskar's debut year marked two historic series wins for India, in West Indies and England. He made half-centuries in his first Test, in Port-of-Spain, where India beat West Indies for the first time. After taking the five-Test series 1-0, they replicated the scoreline against England with a win at The Oval - where Bhagwat Chandrasekhar took eight wickets.

December 1974-February 1975
Australia win back the Ashes

After Dennis Lillee had proved a menace in the 1972 Ashes, a young Jeff Thomson took on the role of battering England's batsmen into submission in a notoriously bloody six-Test series that Australia won 4-1. In Perth, Thomson hit David Lloyd so hard in the groin, his protector turned inside out. In the four and a half Tests he played in the series, before getting injured, Thomson took 33 wickets at 17.93.

March 1977
The Centenary Test

In a startling coincidence, the match marking 100 years since the first Test had the same scoreline as the one it paid tribute to. Max Walker and Dennis Lillee bowled England out for 95, after which Australia extended their lead considerably, thanks to Rod Marsh's maiden hundred, and an impressive half-century by the 21-year-old David Hookes - all in the presence of 218 former English and Australian Test cricketers and the Queen. Derek Randall's 174 took England close but in the end Australia won by 45 runs.

October-November 1978
India and Pakistan renew cricketing ties

Eighteen years after the two sides last played each other in Tests, Pakistan invited India for three matches - a series that also marked the debut of Kapil Dev. Pakistan were leading 1-0 going in to the third Test, in Karachi. Sunil Gavaskar scored two hundreds and it looked like India would draw the game, only for Javed Miandad, the permanent thorn in their flesh, and Imran Khan to pull off a thrilling chase of 164 on the final afternoon.

March 1979
The end of eight-ball overs in Australia

Australia was the last country to give up eight-ball overs, in 1979, 55 years after they began using them. The last Test played there using eight-ball overs was the Perth match against Pakistan in 1979.

June 1980
West Indies' reign begins

After West Indies' humiliating defeat in Australia in 1975-76, Clive Lloyd began putting together a team - centering on a high-quality pace attack - who went on to be indomitable for 15 years. Their run started in 1980 and they went undefeated in 29 series up until 1995, powered by the batting of the likes of Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Alvin Kallicharran, Desmond Haynes and Richie Richardson, and the bowling of Joel Garner, Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh.

July 1981
England pull off a miracle

On day four at Headingley there were 500-to-1 odds on an England victory. When Ian Botham came out to bat during the follow-on, England were five down and still trailing by 122 runs. Even after he produced a savage, run-a-ball 149, they had little chance of saving the Test. But Bob Willis triggered an Australian collapse of 8 for 55 and England sneaked home by 18 runs. It was only the second instance of a team winning after following on.

February 1982
Sri Lanka's first Test

Test cricket's eighth team didn't do too badly when they hosted a strong England side for their maiden Test in Colombo. Ranjan Madugalle, Arjuna Ranatunga and Roy Dias made half-centuries, and Ashantha de Mel and Somachandra de Silva ensured England only got a first-innings lead of five runs. But John Emburey took better advantage of the spin-friendly conditions than the home side did, with a spell of 5 for 5. Sri Lanka won their first Test three years later, in their 14th game.

December 1983
The first man to 30 hundreds

With an unbeaten double-century against West Indies in Chennai, Sunil Gavaskar became the first man to score 30 Test hundreds. His 236 in the innings was also the highest score by an Indian at the time. Just over three years after reaching the landmark, Gavaskar set the bar for run accumulation by becoming the first batsman to make 10,000 Test runs. It was his 124th and penultimate Test.

June-August 1984
West Indies blackwash England

West Indies won all five Tests against England, making it the first time such a feat had been achieved in the country, and only the fifth in Test history. Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner and Michael Holding were at their menacing best, prompting Wisden to remark that "the batsman himself has become as much a target... as the wicket he defends". The batsmen were just as dominating, especially Gordon Greenidge, whose 214 at Lord's helped West Indies chase 342 in five and a half hours.

September 1986
The second tied Test

Dean Jones, battling dehydration and a bad stomach in the unrelenting heat of Madras, set up Test cricket's second tie. Jones batted more than eight hours to make Australia's first double-hundred. India narrowly avoided the follow-on and were set 347 to chase on the final day. They looked set to win when they needed 158 off 30 overs, and it was only when Ray Bright took three wickets to reduce them to 344 for 9 that the game swung firmly back towards Australia. Ravi Shastri, taking strike for the last over, took two off the second ball and a single off the third. Maninder Singh blocked the fourth but was lbw off the fifth, giving Greg Matthews his first ten-for, and cricket its second tied Test.

November 1986
Neutral umpires make their appearance

The first Test that had two neutral umpires in charge was a Pakistan match in Lahore in 1986. Imran Khan, tired of listening to complaining about biased umpiring in Pakistan, invited two Indian umpires, Piloo Reporter and VK Ramaswamy, to stand in the game against West Indies. He then invited two Englishmen to umpire the 1989-90 series against India. The ICC caught on to the idea in 1992, though it was only in 2002 that two neutral umpires began to stand in every Test.

January-February 1988
The bicentenary Test

Australia and England played a one-off Test in Sydney to mark 200 years of settlement in Australia. But unlike the thrilling Centenary Test, which celebrated 100 years of Test cricket, this match was a dull draw. Chris Broad's hundred gave England a big total, which looked more imposing once Australia followed on. But David Boon batted more than eight hours to make 184, saving the match.

April 1988
Pakistan draw in West Indies

Pakistan became the first team in 10 years to win a Test in the West Indies. The series was full of drama and entertainment: Imran Khan came out of retirement to lead Pakistan, they lost the one-day series 5-0, won the first Test by nine wickets (Imran took 11 wickets), launched a spirited chase in the second before drawing it with the last pair batting it out, and lost the third by two wickets.

June-August 1989
Australia win back the Ashes

Allan Border had won one out of eight series as captain, and Australia just five of their last 30 Tests, when they landed in England in 1989. The home side weren't strong either, but no one expected Australia to win the series 4-0. Border and coach Bob Simpson inspired a young side - of future stars like Steve Waugh, Dean Jones, Mark Taylor and Ian Healy - to massive wins, at Headingley, Old Trafford and Trent Bridge. This series is often considered the first milestone in Australia's journey to the top.

February 1990
Hadlee gets to 400

Richard Hadlee made history on his home ground, becoming the first bowler to take 400 Test wickets. Hadlee took seven in the game, against a struggling Indian side, who followed on and ended up making New Zealand chase two runs to win in the second innings.

One bouncer per over

Intimidatory bowling - primarily by West Indies - and consequent slow over rates led the ICC to introduce a "one-bouncer-per-over" rule. And though they amended it to two per over in 1994, after protests from bowlers, the rule tilted the game further in favour of batsmen.

April 1992
The return of South Africa

After receiving a warm welcome at Eden Gardens on their return to international cricket, and then getting to the World Cup semi-final, South Africa headed to the West Indies for a one-off Test to mark their comeback. They dominated the first four days in Barbados - Andrew Hudson's 163 gave them a first-innings lead - but collapsed against Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh's bowling, losing their last eight wickets for 25 in a chase of 201.

October 1992
Zimbabwe play their first Test

Zimbabwe became the ninth team on the Test circuit when they hosted India in Harare. They impressed by getting a first-innings lead - captain Dave Houghton became the country's first century-maker - and became the first side since Australia in 1876-77 to avoid defeat in their maiden Test. Offspinner John Traicos, who had played for South Africa previously, set the record for longest gaps between Tests - 22 years and 222 days.

November 1992-February 1993
West Indies win in Australia

A young West Indian side, with a 23-year-old Brian Lara, won an exciting five-Test series in Australia 2-1. The series is best remembered for Lara's sparkling 277 in Sydney, and West Indies' one-run win in Adelaide . In that match, Australia, needing 186 to win, lost their eighth wicket for 102, but the last two pairs took them up to 184 before Courtney Walsh got Craig McDermott to glove a short one to the keeper and give West Indies the closest margin of victory in history. Curtly Ambrose had 10 wickets in the match and 33 in the series.

April 1994
Lara makes 375

Thirty-six years after Garry Sobers set the record for the highest individual score in Tests, Brian Lara broke it by 10 runs, in Antigua against England, in a remarkably chanceless innings that ran two days. Sobers was at the ground to congratulate Lara and pass on the title.

May 1995
The end of West Indies' reign

"After 15 years and 29 series, world cricket's longest-lasting dynasty was overthrown by the relentless, underestimated Australians," was how Wisden described West Indies' 1-2 loss at home to Australia. The star of the series was Steve Waugh - 429 runs at 107.25 - who scored his maiden double-hundred, taking Australia to an innings win in Jamaica.

August 1997
The biggest innings total

After India declared at 537 in Colombo, they picked up a wicket before stumps on day two. That was the only wicket they would have for the next two days, as Sanath Jayasuriya and Roshan Mahanama went on to add 576 runs - then a world-record stand - and Sri Lanka piled up 952 for 6 by the final day. Jayasuriya made a triple-century but narrowly missed out on breaking Brian Lara's record of 375.

November 1998-January 1999
South Africa whitewash West Indies

West Indies' senior players were fighting their board over pay increases when their tour of South Africa began, and the dispute, and the disunity within the side, reflected in their performance in South Africa, as they became the first Caribbean side to suffer a whitewash. South Africa's fast bowlers ran through West Indies' weak line-up, and an out-of-form Brian Lara couldn't resist them either.

February 1999
Kumble takes 10

Anil Kumble became only the second Test bowler to take 10 wickets in an innings. On a sub-standard Kotla pitch, which had been vandalised a month previously, Pakistan were set 420 on day four. Kumble went wicketless in the first session, but after lunch he changed ends, and in 20.3 overs claimed 10 for 47. India won by 212 runs, their first Test win over Pakistan since 1979-80.

February-March 1999
The Asian Test championship

The first triangular Test tournament since 1912 was won by Pakistan, who started by collapsing to 26 for 6, but ended with an innings win over Sri Lanka in the final. Pakistan dominated the tournament: Wasim Akram picked up two hat-tricks in successive games, Saeed Anwar carried his bat in the victory over India, Wajahatullah Wasti scored twin centuries in his second Test, and Ijaz Ahmed and Inzaman-ul-Haq, made double-hundreds in the final. A second championship was played in 2001-02, where India were replaced by Bangladesh, and was won by Sri Lanka.

February-March 2000
South Africa win in India

South Africa notched up the first victory by a visiting side in a bilateral series in India since 1986-1987 when they took the series 2-0. The chief contributions came from Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock and debutant spinner Nicky Boje. Donald and Pollock took 10 wickets on a turner in the Mumbai Test, which South Africa won in three days despite conceding a first-innings lead, after which Boje took seven in the innings win in Bangalore.

November 2000
Bangladesh make their first Test appearance

After India lobbied successfully for Test status for Bangladesh, India went to Dhaka to play the new team in their inaugural match. Bangladesh impressed with 400 in their first innings - Aminul Islam became the country's first Test centurion - and conceded a narrow lead. But their second-innings score of 91 was an indicator of their future ineptitude. India won by nine wickets. It took Bangladesh five years to register their first win, against Zimbabwe.

February-March 2001
India end Australia's winning spree

When Australia comprehensively beat India in the first match of the series, in Mumbai, it was a record 16th consecutive Test win for them. But that was followed by one of the greatest Tests of all time - only the third win by a team following on - in Kolkata, where VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid batted India out of trouble and into a position of dominance, after which Harbhajan Singh bowled Australia out to give the home side a huge win. Another thrilling Indian victory in Chennai set the tone for an enthralling rivalry over the next decade.

March 2001
Walsh takes 500

When he dismissed Jacques Kallis for a duck in South Africa's second innings, in Port-of-Spain, Courtney Walsh became the first bowler to 500 Test wickets. Walsh, playing his 129th Test, took eight in total, but South Africa won the match, and the series. Walsh ended his career three games later with 519 wickets.

May 2003
West Indies break the fourth-innings chase record

No one expected West Indies to succeed in the biggest chase ever - 418 runs, against Australia - especially after they lost their top three for 74. And when Brian Lara fell for 60, a routine collapse looked likely, but Shivnarine Chanderpaul, batting with a broken finger, and Ramnaresh Sarwan didn't show any nerves during their stand of 123. By the end of day four West Indies needed 47 with four wickets in hand. Vasbert Drakes and Omari Banks showed the same calm their middle-order colleagues had, to complete the incredible win.

March-April 2004
India go to Pakistan again

India's first tour of Pakistan in 14 years was a success on and off the field - the home side and the host fans rolled out the red carpet for the Indian players and visiting fans; the one-day series was closely contested and set the stage for a delectable Test leg. Virender Sehwag's triple-century in Multan gave India their first Test win in Pakistan in 21 years, and though the hosts bounced back with a nine-wicket win in Lahore, India completely dominated the Rawalpindi Test, and went on to win their first Test series away from home in a decade.

April 2004
Lara makes a quadruple century

At the same venue where he made his record-breaking 375, Brian Lara reclaimed his record - which had briefly been taken by Matthew Hayden - with the first quadruple-century in Tests. On the receiving end, same as 10 years previously, were England, but though West Indies made England follow on, they couldn't bowl them out a second time. The home side lost the series 0-3.

October-November 2004
Australia win in India after three decades

Australia's 2004 tour of India was anticipated as a great clash, following India's 2-1 win at home in 2001, and the 1-1 draw in Australia three years later. Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, who had missed the 2003-04 series, were back in the side for this one, though Ricky Ponting was out for three Tests. But India showed none of the magic, or fight, they had previously. They lost big in Bangalore and Nagpur, while rain ruined their chances in Chennai. They only won the dead rubber, a thriller in Mumbai. For Australia, the "final frontier" - as Steve Waugh had nicknamed India - had been crossed after 35 years.

November 2004
The 15-degree rule

While the debate raged over whether Muttiah Muralitharan's action was suspect or not, retrospective biomechanical tests showed some of the cleanest bowlers of the past had bent their elbows past the legal limit. So the ICC set the legal limit for straightening the bowling elbow to 15 degrees. It also took away the umpires' power to call a bowler for throwing during a game; instead, they had to report the bowler in their post-match report.

July-September 2005
England win the Ashes after 16 years

England regained the Ashes for the first time since Mike Gatting's side won it in Australia in 1986-87, and the series revived spectator interest in the contest, though Australia won the first Test in their customary emphatic manner. It was the Edgbaston Test, which Australia lost by two runs, that sparked the series to life. England won again at Trent Bridge and took the series 2-1 when they held on for a draw at The Oval. Andrew Flintoff - who took 24 wickets and made 402 runs - assumed godlike status in the country. Shane Warne, who took 40 wickets, became the first bowler to 600 Test wickets.

September 2005
Zimbabwe's last Test

Zimbabwe's ten-wicket loss to India in Harare became their last Test for nearly six years and counting. The interim board in charge of the country's cricket suspended the team from Test cricket in January 2006 - initially until 2007, but the suspension was later extended - as a reaction to falling standards.

October 2005
The Super Test

The Super Series was conceived as an event that would run alongside the World Cup and the Champions Trophy to fill a year in the ICC's four-year cycle when there was no global event. But the failure of the star-studded World XI (among the players were Rahul Dravid, Brian Lara, Muttiah Muralitharan and Inzamam-ul-Haq) to give Australia a run for their money in the six-day Super Test in Sydney, which was also probably an indication of how far ahead Australia were from the rest, prompted the ICC to shelve the idea.

December 2005
Tendulkar's 35th century

Having equalled Sunil Gavaskar's record of 34 Test hundreds a year previously, Sachin Tendulkar went past the milestone in Delhi, in his 125th match - the same number that Gavaskar had played to score his 34 hundreds. It was a stroke-filled innings, though not chanceless, and he reached the landmark with a single off Chaminda Vaas to backward square leg.

August 2006
The first forfeited Test

Pakistan's 2006 tour was heading towards an un-dramatic finish (England had already won the series) when on the fourth day of the final Test, at The Oval, umpire Darrell Hair penalised Pakistan five runs for alleged ball-tampering. Inzamam-ul-Haq and his players didn't return to the field at the end of the tea interval; Hair took Pakistan's action to be a forfeit and awarded the match to England - it was the first forfeit in Test history. The ICC overturned Hair's decision into a draw in 2008 but changed it back to a win for England a year later.

November 2006-January 2007
Australia win the Ashes 5-0

Sweet revenge for 2005. From the first ball of the series, which Steve Harmison bowled to second slip, Australia trampled all over a mostly clueless England, led by a bewildered Andrew Flintoff. The margin of victories left no room for doubt - 277 runs, six wickets, 206 runs, an innings and 99 runs, and 10 wickets. Shane Warne became the first bowler to get to 700 Test wickets, during the Melbourne Test, and at the end of the series he bowed out - on 708 wickets - along with Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer.

January 2008

India's series in Australia in 2007-08 was one of the most controversial in recent history. Umpiring errors and a race row involving Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds tainted the Sydney Test, after which the BCCI threatened to boycott the rest of the tour if the ICC suspended Harbhajan. The tour eventually went on, and India once again halted Australia streak of victories at 16 - they had previously done it in 2001 - with a win in Perth, but they lost the series 2-1.

July 2008
The Decision Review System makes its appearance

When Anil Kumble asked for a review of an lbw appeal against Malinda Warnapura in the first Test in Colombo, it marked the first referral in Test cricket. Sri Lanka and India had agreed to trial the system during the series, but by the end of it, India strongly opposed it, and the BCCI blocked its use in future bilateral series involving India. While the argument continued on who should foot the bill for the use of the technology - the broadcasters, the home board or the ICC - other countries began adopting it and adapting their strategies to it.

December 2008-January 2009
South Africa win a series in Australia

Australia were beaten at home for the first time in 16 years, and their opponents were a side who had always struggled against them. South Africa won the series in style - chasing a record 414 in Perth, where AB de Villiers made a fighting hundred, and debutant JP Duminy shone with a nerveless half-century, and then winning by nine wickets in Melbourne, where Duminy's sparkling 166 was nearly overshadowed by his ninth-wicket partner, Dale Steyn, who scored 76 and took 10 wickets in the match. South Africa's real hero was their captain, Graeme Smith, who batted through chronic elbow pain for 326 runs at 65.20, and came out to bat at No. 11 at the SCG despite a broken hand.

July 2010
Murali gets 800

When Muttiah Muralitharan announced that he would retire after the first Test against India, he needed eight wickets to reach 800. By the end of day three he had inched to 793. But the fourth day brought 12 Indian wickets, five of them to Murali. On the final day, with India following on, Sri Lanka pushed for a win. When VVS Laxman was run out with one wicket remaining, many feared the record wasn't to be, but Murali got Pragyan Ojha to nick one to slip and finished with a wicket off his final ball in Test cricket.

August 2010
The spot-fixing scandal

Ten years after the first big match-fixing scandal broke, news came that the ongoing Lord's Test was under investigation. In a sting operation, English tabloid The News of the World filmed Mazhar Majeed, a Pakistan player agent, accepting £150,000 to arrange a fix in which Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif bowled no-balls at specific moments of the match. Majeed also alleged that Pakistan captain Salman Butt and wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal were involved, along with three other unnamed cricketers. After a tribunal hearing, the ICC handed Amir, Asif and Butt bans for five, seven and 10 years respectively.

December 2010
Tendulkar's 50th Test hundred

Not satisfied with just breaking records, Sachin Tendulkar set a well-nigh ungettable one. In Centurion against South Africa, with India batting to save the match after conceding a 484-run first-innings lead, he hit his 50th Test century, bringing his tally for 2010 to seven. What was nearly missed in the frenzy surrounding his incredible achievement was Rahul Dravid going the 12,000-run milestone. Despite these feats India lost the Test by an innings after Jacques Kallis scored his maiden double-century.

November 2010-January 2011
England win in Australia after 24 years

The end of Australia's reign at the top of the Test cricket pile ended with a humiliating 3-1 loss to England at home - all three defeats were by an innings. It was the first time England had won in Australia since Mike Gatting's team achieved the feat in 1986-87. Ricky Ponting, who led his team in three Ashes defeats, relinquished the captaincy after the series.

Nishi Narayanan is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo