New Delhi : England Test captain Ben Stokes, middle-order batter Jonny Bairstow, Australia’s left-handed opener Usman Khawaja, and South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada were on Friday nominated for the ICC Test Cricketer of the Year 2022 award.
Stokes, along with head coach Brendon McCullum, has changed the fortunes of English Test cricket in 2022. Struggling for results and at the rock-bottom of the World Test Championship standings, Stokes took over an English side that was low in confidence.
His inspirational leadership has now built up a confident and attacking unit that has won nine out of 10 Test matches during his tenure in 2022, with series victories over New Zealand, South Africa and Pakistan.
Stokes has repeatedly stated about taking the fear of failure away from the players and that has reflected in the ultra-aggressive brand of cricket that England play under him. He has also led the charge by example, having a good year with both bat and ball.
He has scored 870 runs, two centuries and four half-centuries and also scalped 26 wickets at an average of 31.19. Bairstow has arguably been the biggest benefactor of McCullum and Stokes taking over the leadership of England’s Test team.
Given the freedom to play his attacking game, Bairstow had one of the most fruitful years of his Test career, leading to somewhat of a resurgence in terms of the longest format of the game.
Bairstow played 10 Test matches in 2022, scoring 1061 runs at a staggering average of 66.31 and a strike rate of 76. He notched up six centuries and one half-century, showcasing his brilliant conversion rate.
The year could have been all the better if not for a freak golf injury, which ruled him out of the final home Test against South Africa and the tour of Pakistan. Khawaja made his return to the Australian side from the wilderness in 2022 during the Ashes and ensured that no one was taking his spot away again.
He put on some memorable performances, both in the middle order and then as an opener. Khawaja played a vital role in Australia’s batting unit during the latter half of the Ashes, as well as their famous series win in the away tour of Pakistan, on his return to his place of birth.
Overall, he scored 1080 runs in 11 matches at a stunning average of 67.50. He has four centuries and five half-centuries in the calendar year and his contributions have helped Australia put one foot in the World Test Championship (WTC) final.
Rabada was again South Africa’s shining light with the ball in 2022, delivering breakthroughs at crucial junctures. He had a year to remember, starring in some famous Test victories for the Proteas against India, New Zealand and England.
Overall, Rabada picked up 47 wickets in only nine matches at a remarkable average of 22.25 and a devastating strike rate of 34.1. He also registered two five-wicket hauls, with best figures of 5/52.
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