The year 2019 will be remembered in cricket for two incredible fourth-innings chases and a scarcely believable World Cup final, and the ESPNcricinfo Awards for the best on-field performances of the year reflect that. While Kusal Perera’s 153 not out in Durban beat Ben Stokes’ 135 not out at Headingley for the Test batting honour, Stokes didn’t go empty-handed – how could he, given the year he had – taking home the ODI batting award for his nerveless performance in the World Cup final against New Zealand.
Given the manner of England’s exit in the 2015 World Cup, where they managed to win games against only Scotland and Afghanistan, no one would have predicted they would lift the trophy four years later. That they did was largely due to the vision and leadership of Eoin Morgan, who beat stiff competition from Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli to be voted Captain of the Year.
But for all the one-day glory, England had a poor year in Test cricket, losing six and winning only four of 12 Tests. One of these defeats was by a margin of 381 runs, against West Indies in Bridgetown, thanks to a rampaging Kemar Roach, who won the Test bowling award for a spell that demolished England for 77 all out.
While New Zealand couldn’t claim the world title, they did enjoy a very successful 2019, losing only two bilateral international series out of ten. But only one player from the country won honours in our awards – fast bowler Matt Henry for turning a target of 240 into an insurmountable challenge for India in the World Cup semi-final.
For a second year in a row, the T20I batting award went to Glenn Maxwell, for an unbeaten century that gave Australia their first bilateral T20I series win in India. The bowling award was picked up by Lasith Malinga, who repeated his 2007 ODI feat of taking four wickets in four balls, this time against New Zealand, bowling them out for 88 in Pallekele, with his final match figures reading 4-1-6-5.
Australia’s might in women’s cricket today isn’t dissimilar to how their men’s side dominated in the 2000s. They have won four of the six World T20s played so far and are ranked No. 1 in both short formats. Their biggest stars are Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry – who won the women’s batting and bowling awards, both for performances in the Ashes. Lanning’s 133 not out, which handed England their biggest T20I defeat, was voted higher than her team-mate Alyssa Healy’s world-record score of 148 not out, against Sri Lanka. In the bowling category, Perry was virtually peerless. Her award-winning taking 7 for 22 was the best ODI performance by an Australian woman and fourth best overall.
This is the 13th edition of the ESPNcricinfo Awards, where a jury of former players – among them Michael Hussey, Daniel Vettori, Daren Ganga, Isa Guha, Ramiz Raja, Daryll Cullinan, Shahriar Nafees, Ajit Agarkar and Mark Nicholas – and ESPNcricinfo’s senior editors vote on the best performances in the three men’s international formats, and performances in women’s and Associates cricket at large, in the previous calendar year.
Along with Captain of the Year, the only other category for year-round performances is Debutant of the Year, and this was won by an England fast bowler for the second time in a row – Jofra Archer, who made his England debut only halfway into the year, but ended it with 55 wickets from 22 matches across formats.
The Associate awards went to George Munsey for his hundred against Netherlands in Scotland’s highest T20I total, and to Oman quick Bilal Khan for helping his side qualify for the T20 World Cup by taking 4 for 23 against Hong Kong.
Find the list of all the nominees and winners here
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.