• England player is named as one of publication’s five cricketers of the years
• Others are Ben Duckett, Toby Roland-Jones, Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan
Chris Woakes of Warwickshire has been named as one of Wisden’s five cricketers of the year to cap a stellar 12 months in which he went from the brink of the international scrap heap to playing a central role in England’s Test and one-day teams.
He is named in the quintet along with Ben Duckett, rewarded for his 2,706-run summer for Northamptonshire and England Lions, Toby Roland-Jones, the seamer whose wickets helped Middlesex win the County Championship, and Pakistan’s two veteran batsmen Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan.
The award, which is chosen by the Wisden editor, Lawrence Booth, for performances in the previous English summer and can only be won once in a career, is rich reward for Woakes after he left the tour of South Africa in January 2016 and a poor final Test in Centurion with questions swirling about his ability to convert strong numbers at county level to the global stage. To sum up Woakes’ transformation, he begins a £500,000 contract to play for Kolkata Knightriders in the Indian Premier League this week.
Wisden notes: “This was the year Chris Woakes announced himself as an international-class all-rounder. He took 26 wickets at 16 apiece in four Tests against Pakistan – only Abdul Qadir has managed more in a series between the sides – and contributed regular runs down the order. His unbeaten 95 in the one-day international against Sri Lanka at Trent Bridge was a world record for a batsman at No8 or below.”
Duckett, despite a chastening start to his Test career in Bangaldesh and India before Christmas, is in by virtue of his landslide of domestic runs and how he made them – “as much as anyone, he epitomised English cricket’s new breed of 360-degree batsmanship,” says Wisden – while Roland-Jones is credited for his role as Middlesex secured a 13th County Championship.
“The late-September hat-trick with which Toby Roland-Jones secured Middlesex’s first County Championship title in 23 years was the highlight of the domestic summer. And it completed a season in which he had been central to their success, claiming 54 wickets in Division One – including 29 at 27 apiece on the unyielding surfaces of Lord’s – scored crucial runs, and broke into England’s Test squad.”
England’s 2-2 draw with Pakistan last summer – described as the most riveting in the country for years – owed much to the transformation of the tourists since the spot-fixing scandal of 2010, with their captain, Misbah, rewarded for his steady hand at the tiller during their years of security-imposed exile and the century at Lord’s that set up a 75-run victory.
“[It] set a benchmark for his team-mates, while his celebratory press-ups became one of the motifs of the year,” notes Wisden. “Against the odds, he led Pakistan, without a home Test since 2009, to the top of the rankings – and all at the age of 42.”
Younis, meanwhile, takes his place among the five for the 218 he scored in the final Test at the Oval that which ended his worst spell of returns in a 16-year international. “With the pressure on, Younis Khan delivered His classy 218 in the final Test of the summer, at The Oval, helped Pakistan square the series after successive defeats had left them in danger of squandering their win at Lord’s. It was his 32nd Test hundred – and a reminder that his struggles earlier in the series had been a blip rather than part of a decline.”
Virat Kohli, the Indian captain who features of the cover of this year’s Wisden, is named as the leading cricketer in the world on the back of a year in which he averaged more than any other batsmen in all three formats, with Ellyse Perry of Australia collecting the equivalent women’s award.
Wisden notes: “Australia’s leading all-rounder seemed to be operating on another level in 2016. She averaged 81 with the bat in one-day internationals, extending her sequence since the start of 2014 to 17 half-centuries in 23 innings – a record for either gender. She twice equalled her career-best (55*) in Twenty20 internationals, and was always a threat with the ball.”