PAT CUMMINS - HIT
Won World Test Championship, ODI World Cup, and retained Ashes in England
2023 was a dream year for Pat Cummins and his Australian team. Many were questioning his captaincy skills but the 30-year-old proved everyone wrong and that too in some style. As a captain of the national side, Cummins couldn’t have asked for a better year. Apart from winning two major ICC trophies, Australia also retained the urn in the opposition’s territory.
They were the clear favorites going into the WTC final against India at The Oval, but that wasn’t the case in the ODI World Cup final in Ahmedabad. The hosts, India were on a 10-match winning streak but were completely outclassed by Cummins and Co. in the grand finale, with the captain himself bringing his A-game. Starting from choosing to bowl first, Cummins made some great tactical calls during the match and helped Australia win their sixth ODI title.
In 2023, Cummins claimed 17 wickets in 13 ODIs at an average of 36.4. Those are not great numbers, but he stepped up when it mattered the most. The right-armer registered figures of 3/51 in the semi-final against South Africa and 2/34 in the final against India. His numbers in red-ball cricket were far more impressive - 42 wickets in 19 innings @ 27.5. Cummins ended 2023 with a 10-wicket haul against Pakistan at the MCG. A superb end to a superb year!
VIRAT KOHLI - HIT
ODIs - 1377 runs @ 72.47 in 24 innings
Tests - 671 runs @ 55.92 in 12 innings
2023 was a year of redemption for King Kohli. After a couple of mediocre years with the bat, the batting maestro returned back to his absolute best in 2023, smashing eight tons and 10 fifties across two formats. This was the year when he once again reminded everyone why he is the best all-format batter of the current generation. The right-hander even set the ODI World Cup on fire, amassing 765 runs @ 95.62 - the most ever in a single edition.
The 35-year-old managed nine 50-plus scores in 11 innings in the showpiece event. The reason why we say this was a redemption year for Kohli is because he only hit one century and nine fifties in ODIs from 2020 to 2022. However, he showed his class in 2023 and slammed six tons and eight half-centuries. Even in Test cricket, he averaged more than 55 and got two centuries, with the first one coming after 1205 days.
TRAVIS HEAD - HIT
Player of the Match in the WTC final, ODI World Cup semi-final and final
Now, those are some awards to have on your cricketing resume. If not for Travis Head, Australia might not have had the year they had. 163 off 174 in the first innings of the WTC final, 62 off 48 in the semi-final of the WC and 137 off 120 in the final - that’s what you call a clutch player. You need players in your team who can rise to the occasion and Head is one of them. He missed the first five games of the WC and Australia lost two of those encounters. Once he arrived, there was no stopping them.
In 13 ODIs this year, Head smoked 570 runs in 13 innings at an average of 51.82 and an unbelievable strike rate of 133.2. Amongst batters from the top-10 teams who scored at least 500 runs this year, Head had the second-best strike rate. His numbers in Test cricket in 2023 - 919 in 23 innings @ 41.77 - weren’t as good as what he did in 2021 and 2022. However, he played enough impactful knocks, including THE ONE at the Oval.
DARYL MITCHELL - HIT
ODIs - 1204 runs @ 52.35 in 24 innings
Tests - 469 runs @ 42.64 in 13 innings
The New Zealand batter ended 2023 as the fourth-highest run-getter in ODIs, with most of his runs coming from the No. 4 position. The 32-year-old operated at an average of 66 and a strike rate of 102.77 against spin this year. No other batter scored more runs against spin than Mitchell (578). It was his game against spin in the middle-order that helped him do well in the World Cup in India.
The right-hander got 552 runs @ 69 and a strike rate of 111.07, including two hundreds against India’s formidable bowling attack. In total, Mitchell smashed three fifties and five centuries in ODIs in 2023. His performance in the WC also helped him fetch INR 14 crore in the IPL Auction 2024. In Mitchell, New Zealand seem to have found a perfect replacement for Ross Taylor and don’t be surprised if he takes his game to a level above in 2024.
HEINRICH KLAASEN - HIT
ODIs - 927 runs @ 46.35 and a strike rate of 140.7
One of the most dangerous batters in white-ball cricket, Klaasen showed everyone what he was capable of. The middle-order batter operated at a strike rate of 140.7, which was clearly the best amongst all who scored at least 500 runs in ODIs in 2023. Klaasen didn’t only score runs at a great pace but was also very consistent, as his average of 46.35 would suggest.
He hit a six every 15 deliveries, which was also the best amongst all those batters. What’s even more impressive is that he managed this much consistency despite batting at No. 5. His strike rate of 229.2 in the death overs (41-50) was also way above the rest. His 174 off 83 against Australia at Centurion was one of the most brutal knocks in cricket history. Having aced the ODI format, his next goal would be to dominate the 2024 T20 World Cup.
BEN STOKES - AVERAGE
Tests - 515 runs in 13 innings @ 39.62
ODIS - 539 runs in 9 innings 59.89
England’s flamboyant all-rounder had his moments in 2023. Howbeit, Stokes didn’t really win anything. England played eight Tests under Stokes in 2023, winning four and losing three. Meanwhile, the Manchester Test against Australia ended in a draw. They did hammer Ireland in the one-off Test but could only manage a 1-1 draw against New Zealand and a 2-2 draw vs Australia. They allowed Australia to retain the urn at home.
The left-hander got just one century in eight Tests and only bowled 38 overs because of his long-term knee injury. What’s more, Stokes also returned from retirement to participate in the ODI World Cup and did fairly decent to his credit, scoring 304 runs in six innings @ 50.67, studded with two fifties and a century. However, it made no difference in the end, as England could only win three of their nine games.
STEVEN SMITH - AVERAGE
Tests - 929 runs in 24 innings @ 42.23
ODIs - 439 runs in 15 innings @ 31.36
Smith won everything but wouldn’t be too pleased with his performance, especially in the red-ball format. In a year where he has played at least five Tests, this is the first time he operated at an average of less than 50 since 2013. Smith scored only three fifties and as many centuries in 24 innings despite crossing the 20-run mark on 17 occasions.
What would frustrate him is the number of times he failed to convert his starts. 11 times he was dismissed between 20-49, something you wouldn’t associate Smith with. Even in the 50-over format, Smith was way too mediocre, scoring just three half-centuries in 15 innings. He didn’t do much in the World Cup either, with both his 50-plus scores coming against teams like the Netherlands and Bangladesh.
TEMBA BAVUMA - AVERAGE
Tests - 252 runs in six innings @ 50.4
ODIs - 782 runs in 18 innings @ 48.88
637 runs in 10 innings at an average of 79.63 and a strike rate of 104.1, decorated with two fifties and three tons - Bavuma was in some form going into the ODI World Cup. However, things didn’t quite work out for him in the mega event. With just 145 runs @ 18.13 and a strike rate of 73.6, Bavuma was one of the worst openers in the competition.
2023 didn’t end too well for Bavuma, who suffered a hamstring injury in the Centurion Test against India. He had to walk off the field in the 20th over of the Test. It didn’t matter because South Africa clobbered India by an innings and 32 runs. Bavuma played just one good knock in the entire year - 172 vs West Indies in Johannesburg - and if not for that, his average would be just 20 across five innings.
BABAR AZAM - FLOP
Tests - 204 runs in nine innings @ 22.67
320 runs in nine innings @ 40 in World Cup
2023 was a disappointing year for Babar Azam. He had an opportunity to cement his legacy amongst some of the game's modern greats, but the 29-year-old failed to rise to the occasion. Babar was expected to carry Pakistan’s batting line-up in the World Cup, however, couldn’t do justice to his potential. He scored runs at a strike rate of just 82.9 and didn’t get a single hundred. He averaged 46.3 in ODIs in 2023, which is also his worst since 2018.
When it comes to Test cricket, Babar was even more terrible, not managing a single 50-plus score in nine innings. He got starts in eight of his nine innings but couldn’t go big even once. In the ongoing series in Australia, which Pakistan have already lost with a game to go, Pat Cummins and Co. have exposed his weakness against inswingers. On top of that, he is now no longer Pakistan’s captain in any format.
JOS BUTTLER - FLOP
ODIs - 747 runs in 22 innings @ 37.35
Buttler’s story is similar to Bavuma’s. The England white-ball skipper was averaging 60.89 and had a strike rate of 110.5 prior to the World Cup. England were one of the red-hit favourites to lift the title, with Buttler finishing games for them down the order. The wicketkeeper-batter, however, could only score 138 runs @ 15.33 and that was reflected in England’s performance, finishing seventh on the points. That’s not it, England also lost the ODI and T20I series in West Indies under his captaincy. The same WI who didn’t even qualify for the World Cup.
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