The Wisden Trophy for the best Test performance of the year: The candidates
In partnership with the MCC, Wisden have launched a new trophy for an outstanding individual Test performance from the previous calendar year.
The award can be given to a man or a woman, and follows on from the original Wisden Trophy which was awarded to the winners of the England–West Indies Test series from 1963 to 2020 before it was replaced by the Richards–Botham Trophy. The Wisden Trophy bears a familiar engraving by Eric Ravilious and will be kept in the MCC Museum at Lord’s.
In honour of the first edition of the repurposed trophy, Wisden are running a competition to predict the winner of the 2022 award. Those who guess the winner correctly will be entered into a draw to win a copy of the 2023 Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack. The 2022 winner of the Trophy will be announced on April 20, along with retrospective winners from 1877-1939.
Here are the ten contenders for the 2022 award:
When Bangladesh rocked up in New Zealand for a two-Test series at the start of 2022, it wasn’t that few gave the Tigers much hope. It was that barely any consideration had been given to anything but the prospect of a healthy Black Caps triumph. New Zealand were the World Test Champions, unbeaten in 16 at home. Bangladesh had lost all 24 Tests they had played in South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia, the final frontier for a team from Asia.
And if Bangladesh were to spring a surprise, Ebadot Hossain was the last player they would look to to provide one. He came into the game with an eye-watering bowling average of 81.54 – no one in history had taken more scalps at a higher cost per wicket. His batting average, for what it’s worth, stood at 0.50. And yet, with New Zealand 136-2 and having just taken the lead, he summoned a spell of nigh-unplayable reverse swing, taking three wickets without allowing the hosts to add to the score, and two more the next morning, to go with the dismissal of Devon Conway earlier in the piece. New Zealand had collapsed to 169. A famous win had come screaming into view.
Before the 2021/22 Ashes began, Usman Khawaja had made peace with his international career being at an end. “I have a lovely family, a beautiful wife, and a beautiful daughter,” he mused philosophically. “I’m really enjoying my life at the moment. I’ve got a lot of things to be grateful for. I’d love to play for Australia. If it happens, if it doesn’t.”
Travis Head tested positive for Covid-19 to pave the way for a comeback, but with Head assured of his place for the decider, it seemed as if it would be a one-Test swansong. Instead, Khawaja stroked twin hundreds – only the sixth Australian to do so in an Ashes Test – and a year on, he has established himself as one of the premier openers in the world, with four more centuries since then.
After their first Test humbling by the Tigers, New Zealand needed a response. Defeat in a game was unthinkable, but defeat in a series would be unimaginable. Tom Latham, standing in as captain with Kane Williamson injured, ensured his side hit back in style, notching 252. The Black Caps would win at a canter.
Coming in the second week of 2022, it would not be beaten as the year’s highest score. As Latham’s second 250-plus score, it gave him a share of a special silver record – only Virender Sehwag among openers has reached a quarter-century more often in Test cricket.
On a purely statistical level, Ravindra Jadeja’s one-man demolition job is hard to top. Never before had a player crossed 150 and taken nine wickets in the same Test match. His unbeaten 175 took India from a precarious 228-5 to a dominant 574-8, an individual score almost more than Sri Lanka managed in either innings; they were bowled out for 174 and 178, with Jadeja largely doing the damage both times. After the game ended, an inevitable ascension to the No.1 spot in the ICC’s Test all-rounder rankings was confirmed.
So stunning was Jonny Bairstow’s five-innings deconstruction of the usual rules of Test batting, that each individual knock almost loses its sheen in comparison to the others – four of the five would stand among any player’s career highs. It began at Trent Bridge, where Bairstow should have been under pressure. Two hundreds in two Tests to start the year had begun to look a brief interregnum between an interminable decline, puncturing three years without passing 60 and eight innings without reaching 30.
He came to the crease with England 56-3. That become 93-4, the target still more than 200 away with little over a session to go. Bairstow began briskly, reaching 43 off 48 at Tea, before a cup of coffee and a ham and cheese toastie consumed at the interval served as his own Super Mushroom. Ninety-three runs were scorched off his next 44, Bairstow looking to the sky and launching it into the stands. The chase was completed with laughable ease. And he was only just getting started.
Jonny Bairstow (two)
The early stages of Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes’ tenure were greeted with a kind of disbelieving joy. This was great, and it will be fun while it lasts, but surely it can’t go on indefinitely. At Headingley against New Zealand, it seemed as if the run would come to an end. Responding to New Zealand’s 329, England slid to 55-6, Trent Boult peerless with the new ball and bowling each of England’s top three.
But Bairstow remained, and he found a willing acolyte in debutant Jamie Overton. In a raucous, beer-soaked last session, the pair put on 173, Bairstow carrying on to 162 to give England the unlikeliest of leads. Then, chasing another total near to 300, he came out with England 185-3 and Joe Root eyeing up a century. Bairstow nearly overtook him, carving out an unbeaten 44-ball 71 to seal a 3-0 whitewash. Each would get their fourth innings ton.
Jonny Bairstow (three)
England had received their own dose of Bazball – or should that be Pantball? – with India’s wicketkeeper crashing 146 off 111 in his own ebullient style, and again found themselves in need of a red-headed rescue act from 83-5. This time, it took a barb from Virat Kohli to spark the fire. Bairstow was 13 off 61 at the time, had an air-swat off his next ball, and then brought up another hundred 57 balls later.
England were still a distance behind the game, and needed a national record 378 to win in the fourth innings. Zak Crawley and Alex Lees took England to 107-0, but that soon became 109-3. Enter Bairstow, once more. Another century – this time accompanied by Root – meant the target was knocked off by the second new ball.
When the second Test against Sri Lanka rolled around, Australia had world domination in their sights. They had cruised through the Ashes, outlasted Pakistan to record a famous 1-0 series win, and swatted aside Sri Lanka by 10 wickets in the first Test. But in the second, Prabath Jayasuriya helped script a memorable win.
Having made his debut in the first Test, he claimed two six-fors, the first for 118 to keep Australia within reach, and the second for 59 to seal a famous innings win, cashing in on Dinesh Chandimal’s double century. Jayasuriya’s was the best match analysis of 2022.
A dominant display from perhaps the pre-eminent Test batter of the current moment. West Indies had claimed an early scalp, Jayden Seales bowling David Warner for five, but Marnus Labuschagne’s double century drove Australia to a total just shy of 600.
Then chasing quick runs to set up a declaration, he breezed to a century at almost a run a ball to set up a big win. His 308 runs amounted to the highest match tally of 2022.
Playing just his second Test match, Harry Brook stood first among equals in a record-breaking Rawalpindi run-fest. Twice he threatened Gilbert Jessop’s record for the fastest Test century by an Englishman, falling short first by four balls, and then by 13 runs. But he did equal and then break England’s records for most runs in a Test over in his second and third days at the crease as a Test cricketer.
His rapidity proved crucial, with victory secured in the dying moments of day five. A serious talent had arrived, with Brook adding two more hundreds in the series, and going on to become the first batter to cross 800 runs in their first nine Test innings.