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Who will be named the Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World? Readers have their say

by Wisden Staff 4 minute read

The Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World award was established in the 2004 edition of the Wisden Almanack.

Now rated as one of the most prestigious cricket gongs going, its intent, as described by then-Almanack editor Matthew Engel, is to pick the cricketer who “would have been the first name down in the World XI to play Mars”. Unlike the Wisden Cricketers of the Year, it is picked based on performances globally, rather than just those in the English summer.

Australia’s Ricky Ponting was the award’s first recipient – if you want to brush up on past winners, here’s a handy quiz – while India’s Virat Kohli has claimed the title the last three years running. However, when the question of who is in contention to be named the Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World for 2019 was put to Wisden’s Twitter followers, Kohli was only one of several names put forward.

Here are our readers’ suggestions for who should be named the Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World:

Steve Smith

Steve Smith began 2019 banned from international cricket by his own board for his part in the Newlands ball tampering scandal, but starred in Australia’s first successful Ashes defence in England since 2001, only falling for less than fifty once, and only by the time the series had reached its final day.

Eoin Morgan

Eoin Morgan was captain of the first England men’s side to lift the Cricket World Cup trophy, played no small part with the bat in helping secure that triumph, and helped oversee the sea change in England’s approach over the previous four years that meant they went into the World Cup as favourites.

Kane Williamson

Kane Williamson was named Player of the Tournament at the Cricket World Cup and earned praise for his magnanimous reaction after a heartbreaking defeat in the final for New Zealand. He also made a Test double-century at the start of 2019 and an unbeaten 104 to seal a Test series win against England at Hamilton.

Ben Stokes

Ben Stokes was Player of the Match in the World Cup final to end all World Cup finals, and played what some consider to be the greatest innings of all time to keep England’s Ashes hopes alive at Headingley. Aside from those two innings, Stokes made a Test hundred at Lord’s, valiant 80-plus scores in England’s group-stage defeats to Sri Lanka and Australia, and a key 79 in England’s must-win game against India.

Marnus Labuschagne

Marnus Labuschagne made history in August as Test cricket’s first concussion substitute, and instantly looked at home on the Ashes stage, making four consecutive half-centuries to end as Australia’s second leading run-scorer, behind Smith. He has since made four Test centuries, including three in consecutive innings against Pakistan and New Zealand and a maiden double century at Sydney.

Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma made five centuries at the Cricket World Cup, the most in one edition by a single player, with his tally of 648 runs putting him third on the overall list. Promoted to open the batting in Test cricket, Sharma made three hundreds in four innings, including a career-best 212, as India put South Africa to the sword at home.

Babar Azam

At the start of 2019, Babar Azam had made just one Test century from 36 innings, and there were doubts over whether he would crack the longest format. He now has five hundreds to his name, including centuries in each of the first two Tests played in Pakistan in over a decade. At the World Cup, four half-centuries and an ice-cool ton against New Zealand brought his side within a net run rate margin of qualifying for the semi-finals. He spent the year permanently ensconced in the No.1 position in the ICC’s T20I batting rankings and is currently ranked in the top five in every format.

Pat Cummins

Pat Cummins was second only to Mitchell Starc in Australia’s wicket-takers charts at the Cricket World Cup as the defending champions’ title defence ended at the semi-final stage. In Test cricket, Cummins claimed a career-best 6-23 against Sri Lanka at the start of 2019 and finished the Ashes with 29 wickets at 19.62.

Virat Kohli

2019 began with Virat Kohli having made history as the first Indian captain to win a Test series in Australia, while he also made a career-best 254 not out against South Africa at Pune. He also made five ODI centuries in 2019, and though none came at the World Cup, he was a model of consistency, tallying up five consecutive half-centuries before India’s semi-final exit to New Zealand.


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