The winner of the 2019 ICC Awards were announced on Wednesday and there were no real surprises with Ben Stokes and Pat Cummins grabbing the biggest prizes.
There is no doubt Stokes was fully deserving of the Cricketer of the Year award with the England all-rounder starring in the 2019 World Cup final at Lord’s, while also pulling off an all-time great Test innings in Headingley against Australia.
As with any awards, there were several other deserving candidates for each category. While we don’t doubt the credentials of any of the players chosen by the ICC, we have compiled our own alternative list of winners below.
Men’s Cricketer of the Year – Rohit Sharma (India)
While he had an uncharacteristically average year by his standards in the T20I format, Rohit Sharma was simply irresistible in ODIs and Tests. India skipper Virat Kohli once again enjoyed a tremendous year in ODIs with 1,377 runs to his credit and it is some achievement by Rohit to outdo that tally by some distance.
The India deputy skipper scored nearly 1,500 runs in the format with the help of seven tons and six half-centuries. Five of those hundreds by Rohit came in the 2019 World Cup in England – the most by any batsman in a single edition.
On top of that, the right-hander also had a stellar year in Test cricket for a change after being promoted to open the innings. His first two innings in the position yielded back-to-back tons against South Africa before he went a step further and slammed a double century in the final Test against the same opponents. That splendid showing meant the India man ended the calendar year with a Test average of nearly 93.
Even in T20Is, Rohit still managed to register four half-centuries which is better than what most players achieved in the same duration. Statistically, Rohit had a better all-round year than eventual winner Stokes and it was the Englishman’s ability to seize the big moments which tilted the scales in his favour.
Test Player of the Year – Marnus Labuschagne (Australia)
While the rising Australia star did bag the coveted Emerging Player of the Year award, he could quite easily have scalped the Test trophy as well ahead of compatriot Pat Cummins.
Cummins’ haul of 59 Test scalps was, by far, the best of 2019 although Labuschagne’s contributions with the bat were equally important to Australia’s dominant run in the format. The 25-year-old’s year started off with a promising innings against India in Sydney, but it really took off like a rocket in the Ashes series in England.
Becoming the first official concussion substitute in Tests, the right-hander reeled off four fifties on the bounce after replacing the injured Steve Smith. It all stemmed from a slightly changed technique from a stint at Glamorgan, following which Labuschagne was a batsman transformed.
The best, however, was yet to come for the Queenslander who took Test cricket by storm in the Australian summer. Slamming three big centuries on the trot against Pakistan and New Zealand meant that Labuschagne closed the year as the highest run-getter in the format and was the only batsman to breach the 1,000-run mark. It was some turnaround for a player who’s fast-tracking to the Test squad had been questioned heavily by fans.
ODI Player of the Year – Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh)
The star Bangladesh all-rounder has endured testing times after copping a one-year suspension from cricket due to his failure to disclose bookie approaches. That is probably the reason why Shakib wasn’t considered for this award by the ICC along with his absence from the Best ODI XI of the year.
That controversy makes it easy to forget the stupendous year he had prior to his suspension. He was in beast mode for the Tigers in the World Cup despite what was an underwhelming campaign for Bangladesh.
The southpaw was one of only three players who crossed the 600-run mark in the tournament and supplemented those batting displays with 11 wickets with the ball in hand. He might have played only 11 ODI matches in the year due to his suspension but his batting average of over 93 cannot be ignored.
His sensational knock of 124 against the West Indies in the World Cup helped Bangladesh pull off their record ODI chase of 322 with more than eight overs to spare. Only twice in his 11 innings did Shakib fail to register at least a half-century and that tells you all you need to know about his impact.
Emerging Player of the Year – Jofra Archer (England)
Labuschagne was ICC’s pick for this category and it is hard to argue with that selection. However, Jofra Archer’s superb year can’t be ignored. With his England residency being fast-tracked after a change in rules, the Caribbean-born pacer wasted no time in making an impact for the national team.
His limited-overs prowess were never in doubt after his previous exploits in franchise T20 leagues around the globe, and Archer was thrown straight into the cauldron of fire by England in the World Cup.
The 24-year-old claimed 20 wickets over the course of the campaign and was a vital cog in England’s maiden World Cup glory. He then went on to show that he can do the business with the red-ball as well with a fine maiden Ashes campaign. Picking up 22 wickets across four Tests in the series, Archer gave Australia’s batsmen including Smith a torrid time with his pace and bounce.
While he did disappoint in his first overseas Test series in New Zealand, Archer finished off the year with a five-for in the Boxing Day Test against South Africa. His introduction has added a completely new dimension to England’s pace attack and bigger things are expected from the fast bowler going forward.
Associate Player of the Year – Bilal Khan (Oman)
Scotland’s Kyle Coetzer was ICC’s award winner for a solid run in the ODI format. However, given the fact that it was a T20I World Cup qualification year, we feel that performances in the format should take precedence.
Oman pacer Bilal Khan played a huge part in the team’s second successive qualification for the T20I World Cup. The 31-year-old finished as the highest wicket-taker in the Qualifier held in the UAE and bagged 18 scalps at a stellar average of just 12.50.
The left-armed bowler displayed some impressive pace and control over the course of the tournament which ended on a happy note for Oman. The pacer is definitely one who could surprise some established batsmen in the T20I World Cup in Australia later this year.
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