In 2022, the four candidates for the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for ICC Men’s Cricketer of the Year delivered outstanding performances. We examine their accomplishments.
Pakistan’s Babar Azam
- In 44 matches, he scored 2598 runs.
2022 was another year in which Babar Azam set and broke records. Babar was the first player in any format to score 2000 runs in a calendar year, with his 2598 runs coming at an average of 54.12, including eight hundred and 17 fifties. The ICC Men’s ODI Player of the Year for 2021 maintained his dominance in the 50-over format, accumulating 679 runs in nine matches. It is a credit to his consistency because he hit 50 or more runs in eight of those innings. He retains his top rank in the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s ODI Player Rankings and is once again in contention for the ICC Men’s ODI Player of the Year 2022.
Despite his team’s poor performance, Babar had a fantastic year in Test cricket. In only nine matches, he scored 1184 runs and handled most of the heavy work for Pakistan in the lengthier format. Babar’s year as captain in white-ball forms was as notable, as Pakistan won all three ODI series they played, losing just one match out of nine. In the Twenty20 International format, he guided Pakistan to their first World Cup Final since 2009. Babar Azam was nominated for Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy.
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The odds are stacked against Pakistan, but one man stood between Australia and victory in the second Test in Karachi. In the first innings, Pakistan was bowled out for 148, giving Australia a massive 408-run advantage. With less than six sessions left, the visitors batted again and set a goal of 506 runs. Pakistan had the worst conceivable start, losing two wickets with just 21 runs on the board and five periods left. In stepped Babar Azam, and so started a grueling 10-hour marathon that almost moved Pakistan from an obvious loss to an unthinkable triumph.
His 425-ball 196 was not only his first Test century in two years, but it was also his greatest Test score. He formed vital alliances, first with Abdullah Shafique (228-run stand) and subsequently with Mohammad Rizwan (115 runs). The equation was reduced to 196 runs in 36 overs, but Babar’s wicket four runs short of a well-deserved double tonne, followed by two fast scalps, ended any chances of victory. Babar Azam received a standing ovation after scoring the greatest score by a Test skipper in the fourth innings of a Test.
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England’s Ben Stokes
- In 28 matches, he scored 1066 runs and took 33 wickets.
After devastating series defeats in the Ashes and the West Indies, England was living a nightmare in Test cricket. Joe Root quit as Test captain, and Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, the coach, took over. Since then, Stokes has led England to unprecedented success, winning nine of ten Tests as captain. He has scored 870 runs, including two centuries, and taken 26 wickets along the road.
The legendary all-rounder did not have a stellar white-ball season. In reality, he declared his retirement from ODI cricket in order to concentrate on other forms. In nine T20Is, he scored 143 runs and took seven wickets. The figures may not seem to be noteworthy, but 52 of those runs came when England most needed them. Ben stokes was nominated for Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy.
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The year 2022 will be known for Ben Stokes’ leadership and Test exploits, but it was his innings of 52* in the final of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup that proved essential. The bowlers, notably Stokes, performed their job in the first innings, limiting Pakistan to 137 runs in the final. But, considering the circumstances, Pakistan showed amazing faith and scalped three key wickets during the Powerplay. Batting at No.4, Stokes came in clutch for England and showed tremendous patience at a time when the dugout was nervous after the early wickets.
He was bowling at less than a run-a-ball for the whole of the innings, but he took the game deep to keep England in the game. With a six and a four against Iftikhar Ahmed in the 16th over, he turned the tide in England’s favor. He struck the winning runs after reaching his fifty, his first in the 2022 T20 World Cup and his lone half-century in limited-overs cricket this year, and burying the ghosts of Eden Garden from 2016.
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Sikandar Raza is a Zimbabwean politician
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- In 39 matches, he scored 1380 runs and took 33 wickets.
Sikandar Raza emerged as Zimbabwe’s crisis man during a year in which the African country’s stock rose in international cricket. Raza was a formidable force in both white-ball forms, hitting over 600 runs in T20Is and ODIs. Since making his debut in 2013, the talented all-rounder has had his most productive year with both bat and ball. In ODIs, Raza scored 645 runs at an average of 49.61. All three of his hundreds in the 50-over tournament came while chasing, with two of them leading to victories against Bangladesh and the third giving India a fright.
Raza scored 745 runs in T20Is at an astounding strike rate of more than 150. He was also the leading wicket-taker in the shortest format, taking 25 while conceding just 6.13 runs per over. In July, he was named Player of the Tournament in T20 World Cup Qualifier B, and he took that momentum into the main tournament, earning Player of the Match three times, including Zimbabwe’s historic triumph against Pakistan. Outstanding performance Sikandar Raza hit a tonne of runs for Zimbabwe in 2022, but it was his bowling performance against Pakistan in the T20 World Cup that had the biggest effect.
Pakistan recovered from an early wobble and was cruising to victory, needing just 131 runs to win. They just required 43 out of 39 balls at one point, but that’s when Raza worked his magic with the ball. After being struck for a six in the previous ball, Raza responded by taking the wickets of Shadab Khan and Haider Ali in quick succession. In the following over, he stumped the well-set Shan Masood down the leg side, thereby changing the game in the five balls he bowled. The pacers kept their cool in the last overs, leading Zimbabwe to a remarkable victory. Sikandar Raza was nominated for Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy.
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Tim Southee is a New Zealander
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- In 31 games, he took 65 wickets
The ever-dependable Tim Southee was one of New Zealand’s talents with the ball in 2022. Southee was a regular wicket-taker, finishing with 65 scalps, the most by a Kiwi in a calendar year. Southee was the greatest wicket-taker for his nation with 28 wickets in eight matches in a year when New Zealand was far from their best as a side in Tests, finishing without a single series victory.
The 34-year-old was especially effective in white-ball forms, taking key wickets in all stages of the game. He was an important part of New Zealand’s run to the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup semi-finals, taking seven wickets in five matches at a miserly economy rate of 6.57. Tim Southee was nominated for Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy.
Tim Southee’s brilliant spell of 3/6 in the first match of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup against neighbors and hosts Australia set the tone for the remainder of the tournament. Southee dismissed David Warner with his first delivery of the competition and added another in the Powerplay with the wicket of Mitchell Marsh, all while allowing just six runs. He began Australia’s collapse on the day, and he concluded it as well, as the hosts were defeated by an 89-run margin on the first day.
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