2022, a year that changed the way fans across the globe and the organisers perceive women's cricket.
2022, a year that witnessed women's cricket grow leaps and bounds.
2022, a year of blockbuster debuts and some teary-eyed farewells.
2022, a year of glorious highs and heartbreaking lows for the Women in Blue.
12 months and 365 days, it is fair to say that women's cricket has evolved amid the growing fanfare with the glaring eyes of the media and an increase in the number of fans following the sport and their favourite superstars.
I vividly remember writing a similar piece last time on the eye-catching moments in women's sport, which included most of the individual performances that showcased the rise of players and certain teams.
However, this time around, it is not the players who are in focus but certain decisions from the cricketing boards across the world that have bolstered the state of women's cricket.
While it started with a tad bit of disappointment with a lukewarm performance from the Indian team in the World Cup in New Zealand, it has ended with a bang as fans thronged the DY Patil stadium as India rekindled their Aussie rivalry.
And as we draw curtains to a year of some riveting action and enter a new year filled with excitement for a plethora of high-voltage mega-events, let us take a look at the key moments in the past season that are etched in the memory of cricket fans.
Inaugural edition of Commonwealth Games
29th July 2022: The stage is set for a classic showdown as two heavyweights of world cricket, India and Australia, locked horns in the inaugural game of the Commonwealth Games.
For someone who has seen the rise of women's sport for a decade, it was heartening to see the direction where the sport is heading, and the introduction of women's cricket in the Commonwealth Games was just the start of something incredibly special.
The maiden appearance of the Commonwealth Games grabbed many eyeballs, and the summit clash between India and Australia in front of a capacity crowd at the Edgbaston stadium reinstated the importance of India's performance in the success of a world event.
India and New Zealand implement equal pay
Diwali couldn't have gone any better for the women's players in India as the Board of Control from Cricket in India (BCCI) announced the decision to equal pay structure for their male and female cricketers donning the national colours.
The @BCCIWomen cricketers will be paid the same match fee as their male counterparts. Test (INR 15 lakhs), ODI (INR 6 lakhs), T20I (INR 3 lakhs). Pay equity was my commitment to our women cricketers and I thank the Apex Council for their support. Jai Hind 🇮🇳— Jay Shah (@JayShah) October 27, 2022
In a move that was lauded by many cricketing pundits across the globe, BCCI became the second board after New Zealand to implement equal pay and help promote the women's game.
While New Zealand cricket announced this historic decision earlier in the year, India joined their Kiwi counterparts in ensuring cricket can be pursued as a profession for female players.
The run-out that divided the cricketing world
An emotional day at the Home of Cricket as one of the legends of Indian sport, Jhulan Goswami, was all set to bid adieu to international cricket after the final ODI game against England.
While the series was played in a highly competitive spirit, there were bound to be some tempers flaring in the last game, especially with England staring at a 0-3 defeat at home.
With 17 runs needed off 39 deliveries and the last wicket in hand, Charlie Dean and Freya Davis were battling out for the home team. While the onus to guide the team over the line relied heavily on Dean, she was run out at the non-striker's end by Deepti Sharma for backing up.
The incident divided the cricketing world on the topic of the spirit of the game and the laws of the game, with plenty of players voicing their opinions on social media.
End of an era in women's cricket
Women's cricket is surely a lot poorer after the end of this season as two stalwarts of the game, Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami, retired from international cricket, drawing curtains to two-decade-long careers.
While the run-out overshadowed the end stages of farewell for Goswami, the Indian team ensured the pioneer of the women's sport ended her glittering career on a winning note.
However, for the Indian skipper, it wasn't a fairy tale ending, as her last game for the national side was a loss against South Africa that resulted in the Women in Blue bowing out of the World Cup in New Zealand.
With gruelling hours of session under scorching heat and years of hard work, the duo have ensured women's cricket is well and truly on the right track, and the best is yet to come for the sport.
Inception of Women's IPL
After the heroics of the Indian team in the 2017 World Cup in England and the T20 World Cup Down Under, there have been calls about the inception of the Women's Indian Premier League.
While the BCCI introduced the Women's T20 Challenge, a three-team affair before the men's play-offs, the inception of the Women's IPL will give the domestic players a lot more opportunities to share the dressing room with international stars whilst creating an impact.
The tournament will also propel exponential growth in the bench strength of the Indian side, which will augur well for the team in the upcoming mega-events.
While the exact details of the inaugural edition of the extravaganza are yet to be finalised, the Board has confirmed they are looking for March as the window with five teams competing for the coveted trophy.
India halt the Aussie jauggernaut
India and Australia have provided the fans with some enthralling games at world events that have gone all the way down to the wire. If there is a team that provides the Aussies with a stern test in the recent time, it has to be the Women in Blue.
Ahead of their T20 title defence in the land of the Proteas, Australia came to Indian shores for a five-match T20I series in Mumbai that was hugely anticipated as a blockbuster by the fans.
While the first game turned out to be a one-sided clash, with the visiting side recording a nine-wicket win, the second game showcased the love for the Indian team and their increasing popularity.
This was for everyone at DY PATIL❤️🙌🏼— Jemimah Rodrigues (@JemiRodrigues) December 11, 2022
Never experienced an atmosphere like this before!! This team is special!!
Dream stuff by @mandhana_smriti @13richaghosh @OfficialDevika and Renuka 🔥
We march on!! 💪🏼🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/TVQfOrR8nW
Over 47000 people thronged the DY Patil Stadium, the highest recorded attendance for a women's game in India, to support the Women in Blue. And the team did not disappoint them either, as Smriti Mandhana and Richa Ghosh powered India to a Super Over win and hand Australia their first defeat in T20Is this year.
It marked a new era in women's cricket as the player never witnessed a capacity crowd for any game, and it not only helped them improve their performance but also gave them a sense of satisfaction in helping women's cricket grow a little bit each day.