The cricketing calendar in 2019 was dominated by the ICC World Cup, where teams battled it out for the biggest prize in the sport. England’s white-ball revolution, instituted in 2015, eventually culminated in their maiden World Cup win. While a horde of cricketers stood out for their stellar performances in 2019, we pick eleven of the very best.
Amidst the volatile powerhouse that is the fragile West Indies batting lineup, Hope was a solid calming influence with his methodical rigour. 1,345 runs across 28 ODI appearances at an average of 61.13 aptly illustrate the right-handed opener’s unrelenting consistency.
Shai Hope raises his bat after reaching his century ©Getty Images
Time and again, Sharma has been unstoppable in conjuring masterful innings upfront for India and asserting his dominance. He began 2019 with a century in Sydney - the first of his seven tons this year. Sharma’s highlight was his extravagant run-spree in the ICC World Cup, where he scored a record five centuries and finished 25 runs shy of Sachin Tendulkar’s record of 673 runs.
The Indian skipper once again bossed the realm of ODI cricket with his stunning drives and unparalleled flair. After dominating the run charts for two years in a row, Kohli finished 2019 as the second-leading run-getter behind Sharma with 1,377 runs in 26 matches at 59.86. Fittingly, Kohli’s last knock of the year saw him ace another run-chase against the West Indies with an imperious 81-ball 85.
Virat Kohli flicks one through the leg-side ©Getty Images
The elegant 25-year-old has frequently proven why he is the cornerstone of Pakistan’s batting lineup in white-ball cricket. Batting at the pivotal No. 3 position, Babar’s regal cover drives made it to multiple highlights reels. Three centuries, six fifties and an average over 60 maintained across 20 games sufficiently captures Babar’s ever-reliable batting credentials.
The veteran Irishman is probably England’s most influential leader since the inception of cricket’s 50-over format. Morgan marshalled his troops brilliantly, facing defeat in only five games out of the 21 England played in 2019. The pinnacle of his ODI journey was the narrowest of victories over New Zealand in the World Cup final. Moreover, a strike rate of 112.19 and second-most number of sixes (41) hit this year makes Morgan a gun middle-order batter.
‘Superman’ Stokes was everywhere for England this year. If he wasn’t plucking one-handed stunners in the field, he was busy producing a batting masterclass in the World Cup finale. Stokes amassed 719 runs at an average of 59.91 and scalped 12 wickets with an economy rate of below six in 2019.
Ben Stokes is all smiles after England's World Cup win ©Getty Images
It was a rough year for Bangladesh cricket and Shakib often found himself at the center of most controversies. Before he copped a ban from the ICC for failing to report corrupt approaches, Shakib delivered one of the greatest all-round showings in World Cup history. The Bangladeshi match-winner averaged in excess of 93 with the bat and took 13 wickets going at a shade over five.
The 24-year-old Barbados-born cricketer was one of the biggest success stories of 2019. Having been fast-tracked into the England side, Archer’s aggressive brand of fast bowling made an instant impact. Possessing a sleek run-up and the ability to rack up high speeds, the young paceman was lethal to deal with. He snaffled 23 wickets in 14 games at 24.73 and broke the England record for most wickets at a World Cup.
In a year disturbed by injury, the Australian speedster breathed fire throughout his profitable stint at the World Cup. Starc’s searing pace was quite often too hot to handle as he took 27 wickets in 10 innings, going past Glenn McGrath’s World Cup record of 26 wickets in the 2007 edition. A new-ball partnership between Starc and Archer is certainly the ultimate fast bowling dream.
2019 was not a particularly productive year for the left-arm wrist-spinner but he did redeem himself with some useful spells. Kuldeep claimed 32 wickets in 23 matches and became the first Indian to register two hat-tricks following his heroics against West Indies at Visakhapatnam. His career-best figures of 4/39 also arrived in January against New Zealand in a winning cause.
Shami quietly rose through the ranks of India’s pace bowling unit to end 2019 as the most prolific wicket-taker. The skillful right-arm paceman managed to pick 42 wickets in 21 matches at an average of 22.64. Shami’s knack of generating considerable reverse swing made him a challenging bowler to face. The peak of his abilities was witnessed during the hat-trick he completed against Afghanistan to close out a thrilling win in the World Cup.