To say that 2020 has been an unusual year is already a cliche. You've no doubt seen variations of the phrase already in other "year in review" pieces. But for cricket - particularly associate cricket - it's certainly fair to say that 2020 has been an unusual year.

Back in January what odds would you have got that College Field in Guernsey would have had the highest attendance of any international in the British Isles? What odds on Ilfov County in Romania, Walferdange in Luxembourg, Sofia in Bulgaria, Seebarn in Austria and Almeria in Spain all hosting more days of international cricket than London?

The spectre that hung over the year was of course the Covid-19 pandemic that more than decimated the international cricket calendar.

A busy 2020 was planned for associates, highlighted by the Under-19 World Cup and T20 World Cups for men and women, the latter featuring Thailand making their debut in the competition. In the end only two of those tentpole events were played with the men's T20 World Cup being postponed until 2021 along with a whole host of pathway events in both white-ball formats for both men and women.

After Nepal bowled out the USA for a (joint) record low ODI total of 35 back in February, there were no further ODIs involving associates, nor were there any further ICC pathway events. Scotland and the Netherlands both lost ODI

It was around that time that Covid-19 first reared its head over international cricket. A Malaysia tour of Hong Kong was postponed and moved to Malaysia, whilst China and other teams pulled out of sub-regional qualifying for the Asia Cup.

Thailand came close to a major upset during the Women's T20 World Cup when they scored 150-3 against Pakistan, but hopes of a famous win were dashed when rain washed out the Pakistan reply. The women's World Cup ended on the 8th March, the same day that the European international season started with Germany and Spain splitting a pair of T20Is.

But shortly afterwards cricket almost ground to a halt as the pandemic took hold across the world.

Countries that were mostly unaffected by the pandemic - or dealt with it well - managed to fill a void for cricket fans with Vanuatu and Taiwan live-streaming T10 competitions in March and April. Live-streaming in general came into its own during the year, particularly in Europe thanks to the European Cricket Network.

They live streamed a charity match in Guernsey at the end of May - the first cricket played anywhere in the British Isles in 2020 - and continued throughout the summer and beyond with various European Cricket Series events.

Whilst a welcome distraction at first, the novelty of these ECS T10 events wore off as the year progressed. The production level and facilities were far short of the European Cricket League in 2019 and by the end of the events in November it was hard to see just what the point of them was. A look at comments on their Facebook page or mentions on Twitter appeared to suggest that the main audience was fantasy cricket players.

By then the ECN had moved from free streaming to a subscription service, making it hard to see just how they were going to grow any sort of new audience within Europe. Even the existing audience may not wish to pay a monthly subscription that is higher than those for Amazon Prime, Disney Plus or most Netflix packages to watch European club cricket, particularly when the ICC plan to live-stream most of their pathway events and the first two of those high-profile services may be showing cricket from Australia and India respectively in 2021.

After full member international cricket resumed in England in July, associate international cricket resumed in August, first with a women's T20I series between Austria and Germany and then a one-off T20I between Guernsey and the Isle of Man which saw a welcome return of a live crowd to international cricket. Further men's T20Is were held in Luxembourg and Bulgaria before the European - and associate - international year came to an end in Romania who beat Bulgaria 3-1 in a series to win the Balkan Cup. A planned series between the Scotland and Ireland women's teams in November was cancelled at the last minute.

The big news in associate cricket was therefore confined to the off-field arena. Sweden made a splash in September when they announced that Jonty Rhodes had been appointed as their head coach, with the South African widely regarded as the best fielder of all time evidently in for the long haul as he has relocated to the country.

In the USA, the planned launch of Major League Cricket was delayed from 2021 to 2022 with the corresponding launch of their Minor League pushed from this year to next, though several exhibition matches were played. USA Cricket made a statement with a plan to become an ICC full member by 2030, though it seems that their planned international rise will involve recruiting players from other countries to play Major League Cricket and become eligible for the US national side rather than any serious youth or other grassroots development.

In the (no doubt virtual) boardrooms of the ICC, the surprise departure of Shashank Manohar in May saw the even bigger surprise of an associate representative - Imran Khwaja of Singapore - become the chairman of the ICC. However, he was unable to retain his position in re-election campaign of November with the BCCI backed Greg Barclay taking on the post.

Whilst Barclay has said that he wants to be the chair for all ICC members, not just the "Big Three", there will be some skepticism as to whether he can live up to that promise given who his backers were. If he can bring some of the expansionist zeal from Rugby League - the other sport for which he is the chairman of the international board - which has expanded its World Cup from 10 teams in 2008 to 16 in 2021 then he will be more than welcomed.

With Covid-19 vaccines bringing the possibility of a return to some form of normality in 2021, all those involved in associate cricket will be hoping that an even busier international calendar full of pathway events for the 2022 Men's T20 World Cup, 2023 men's and women's ODI World Cup and the 2022 Under-19 World Cup goes off without a hitch.