With Australia jetting off home after a 2-1 series win, England men’s white-ball summer has come to a close.
That means only one thing: time for some awards. To do the honours are Wisden Cricket Monthly magazine editor Jo Harman, WCM staff writer James Wallace and Wisden.com features editor Taha Hashim.
The England player of the summer
JH: This felt like a make or break summer in international cricket for Sam Billings, who had previously shown glimpses of his talent without playing innings of real substance. By marshalling two tricky run-chases against Ireland and hitting a century in a losing cause against a formidable Australian attack (averaging 79 across England’s six ODIs), he has proved he has both the strokeplay and temperament for a middle-order role in the 50-over format. Still yet to crack T20 at international level though.
JW: My heart says Chris Woakes: runs, wickets, curtains… but my head says Eoin Morgan for his captaincy. He reminds me of the T-1000 from Terminator 2, all unrelenting commitment and liquid steel. No matter the game position, suffering early wickets or conceding early runs, his team keep coming at you. The E-1000 then, but a kindly Irish one. This side is made in his image.
TH: He only appeared against the Aussies, but Jofra Archer closed out a taxing bio-bubble summer with white-ball fire, taking 10 wickets in six matches at 24.8. He was at his best in the second ODI heist, frightening up top with the new ball and clinical when he joined forces with Chris Woakes to prompt an Australian collapse in the middle.
The overseas player
JH: There’s a lot to like about Adam Zampa but I’ve never been hugely convinced by him as an international spinner. Figures of 0-47 in the first T20I did nothing to convince me otherwise but from then on he was excellent, bouncing back impressively in the short-format series and then taking 10 wickets across the three ODIs (compared to Rashid’s four) including several key scalps.
JW: Mohammed Hafeez showed his class but I’m going for Adam Zampa. The mullet, the coffee worship and the gap year tattoos all maketh a man who England would dearly have loved to slog into oblivion. The fact that they couldn’t really get him away in the ODIs shows how skilful a bowler he is. He took important wickets at vital moments to show there’s more to him than his quirks.
TH: There were a couple of very poor shots in the T20Is, but when it comes off… yeah, take my money. Glenn Maxwell rescued Australia in both of their ODI wins, and his century in the decider was just a hell of a lot of fun to watch, flicking and sweeping his way over the rope at midwicket. For the good and the bad, there are few cricketers in the world more captivating than Maxwell.
JH: Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie share this for their stunning partnership at the Ageas Bowl, taking Ireland to another famous win over England.
JW: Buttler’s free-to-air match-winning T20 knock. Think of the number of eyes affixed and hearts swooning at the vision in pillar-box red, rounding off a chatter-stopping summer. He does it in all forms; let’s now let him get on with it.
TH: Despite the love above for Maxwell, a joint-award for Paul Stirling and Andrew Balbirnie feels apt. In a chase of 329, the pair brushed off their meagre returns in the series to send Ireland back home smiling.
The spell/bowling performance
JH: Another split award, this time for Jofra Archer (3-34) and Chris Woakes (3-32), whose match-changing mid-innings spells in the second ODI against Australia salvaged a game which appeared to be lost and kept the series alive.
JW: For the sheer thrill I’m giving this to Jofra Archer for his searing new-ball spell in the second ODI against Australia. As has been noted in this parish, it would surely have given Joe Root something to ponder. A new ball under lights and a modest total to defend providing a perfect storm − fast, accurate and enthralling to watch, Warner and Stoinis reduced to flotsam in Archer’s 90mph plus shipwrecking spell.
TH: Even from the sofa, with no crowd present, you could sense something special was happening as Chris Woakes lit up the stumps in the second ODI against Australia, the jubilant shrieks of the England fielders a fitting soundtrack. He finished with 3-32, the game won out of nowhere in an ODI classic.
JH: Adil Rashid’s six off Mitchell Starc in the final ODI was the shot of the summer, in any format. Giving himself so much room that he left the cut strip, the wristy right-hander outrageously deposited a 90mph delivery over square-leg and into the stands.
JW: Can’t get Woakes’ last-second ramp shot out of my mind. Can’t get Woakes out of my mind. As per.
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) September 16, 2020
TH: Matthew Wade had just the one nine-ball stay at the crease but there was still enough time to flick a 91mph length ball from Archer for six high and long into the night sky.
JH: A double for Rashid, whose googly to clean bowl Aaron Finch in the third T20I was a thing of rare beauty and raised questions about his Test prospects once again.
JW: It’s gotta be Rashid’s googly to bowl Aaron Finch through the gate. That one ball alone puts him into contention for the red-ball stuff, whenever that will next be. But does he want to be a part of it? (Say you will, Adil).
TH: Rashid to Finch: spinning, drifting, whizzing, googlying.
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) September 8, 2020
The biggest disappointment
JH: Jason Roy. Scores of 24, 0 and 1 versus Ireland and then 3, 21 and 0 versus Australia were in sharp contrast to his dominance against the white ball last summer. The 30-year-old has huge credit in the bank but Tom Banton is breathing down his neck.
JW: The standard of cricket and closeness of the matches has been riveting and like all memorable summers, there’s a real poignancy that things are coming to an end. There’s a lingering, nagging feeling of how it could have been even more special had full crowds been packed in to watch the see-sawing summer unfold. But maybe that’ll make next summer (?) feel all the more special.
TH: Moeen Ali. Deservedly granted the opportunity to captain his country in the final Australia T20I, he offered a sparkling 61 against Pakistan but not much else, finishing the summer with just one wicket.
What we’ll miss most
JH: From the players’ perspective, this schedule should obviously never be repeated. For fans though, it’s been an absolute treat. Three visiting white-ball teams in the space of six weeks, cricket on the telly seemingly every day… Hopefully we’ll never see the likes of this summer ever again, but it did have its advantages.
JW: Watching Justin Langer go through the full gamut of human emotion. Gleefully giving the Old Trafford double-glazing a good seeing to when celebrating Maxwell and Carey’s centuries to moments later, when both got out and Langer looked on the verge of a bin-kicking meltdown. Each cameraman cutaway to Langer had me hooked. Particularly during the second ODI Aussie batting collapse – I haven’t seen anyone look so crumpled whilst sat staring at a tablet since my dad realised his ISA had been drained by a fraudster.
TH: Stirling and Balbirnie taking Ireland home, a massive chase against Pakistan, the Australian chokes and then the series-sealing comeback – it’s hard to remember a match that didn’t entertain. Simply put, I’ll miss it all.