2019 has been a great year for the cricket fans as they got to enjoy quality cricket across the year. India’s Test series win in Australia after 70 years was the highlight of the year for the Indian fans. The World Cup 2019 triumph in a dramatic manner was like a dream come true for the English fans. The retention of the Ashes by Australia in England also grabbed a lot of attention.
Ben Stokes has been the hero for England, Rohit Sharma for India, Patrick Cummins for Australia and Babar Azam for Pakistan this year. Amidst all this, we saw a few youngsters making their names at the highest level. Players are selected in the national team based on potential and after having a good run in the domestic circuit. However, it is not very easy for a young player to perform at the international stage.
There is a lot of difference between the quality of a side in the domestic circuit than that of the international team. The additional pressure of cementing the spot in the team is also one of the factors. The international stage tests the character of a player in the sense of the temperament and the mental strength apart from the cricketing skills of the player.
Here are the five players who have been the find of this year:
1. Nicholas Pooran
Nicholas Pooran, the attacking middle-order batsman in the limited-overs cricket has been the find of the year for the West Indies. Pooran displayed his talent in the Caribbean Premier League 2013 and Under-19 World Cup but could not carry on due to a car accident and other off-field issues. In 2016, the youngster made his T20I debut in the Maroon jersey against Pakistan in U.A.E. However, he failed in the three-match T20 series and was dropped.
The Trinidad-born impressed in the Global Canada League 2018 and received a call for the national team in the T20 series against India last year. The southpaw has not looked back since then. He kept on impressing in the shortest format and made his ODI debut this year. Now, Pooran is an important part of the batting unit of his side in the white-ball cricket.
With 367 runs at an average of 52.42 under his belt, the 24-year-old finished the World Cup 2019 as the highest run-scorer for West Indies. The thing which stands out about Pooran is his capability to score runs at a quicker rate in the middle-overs. The wicketkeeper-batsman is a superb player of spin which makes him an asset in the middle-order for any team. Averaging close to 50, Pooran has amassed 639 runs with a healthy strike rate of over 106 in ODIs this year.
2. Mayank Agarwal
Mayank Agarwal is the only Indian player to feature in this list. He made his debut in 2018 at the highest level and was mighty impressive against the potent attack of Australia comprising of Cummins, Hazlewood, Lyon and Starc. Before his Test debut, Agarwal broke the door for the selection by scoring truckload of runs in the domestic circuit. Mayank is reaping the rewards at the international level now, and deservedly so.
The opening batsman has kept the hunger for the runs alive and amassed a lot of runs. Mayank has been the best Indian batsman in the longest format since his debut. In his short Test career of just nine matches, the right-handed batsman has scored 872 runs with a whopping average of more than sixty-seven. Agarwal has three fifties and three centuries including two double-hundreds to his name.
The hardworking player from Karnataka has shown enough promise to be seen as a long-term option. The 28-year-old has looked stable against pace bowling and is one of the best Indian batsmen against spinners. He has a good defence and a solid technique to succeed as a Test opener on the overseas tours too. Mayank has displayed his wonderful temperament to play big knocks as well.
3. Alex Carey
Alex Tyson Carey was considered as one of the weak links in the batting unit of Australia before the World Cup. Many cricket fans and experts demanded the selection of Matthew Wade instead of Carey. It was understandable too – Carey averaged 30.64 with a strike rate of about 83 in ODIs, before the big ICC tournament. However, the Australian selectors along with the team management backed him to come good.
And, the wicketkeeper-batsman did not disappoint either as he had a very successful World Cup. The 28-year-old accumulated 375 runs with an average of more than 62 and a strike rate of over 104. Despite batting at seven in most of the games, which is not a comfortable position for a batsman like him, Carey contributed well. When the likes of Aaron Finch, David Warner and Steve Smith failed against New Zealand, the southpaw stood tall for his team played a match-winning knock of 71 runs off just 72 balls.
In the semi-final match against England, the Loxton-born displayed his mental strength and his determination. Chris Woakes along with Archer had triggered an early collapse and Carey was promoted to bat at five and arrest the collapse. He was hit at the helmet by a nasty bouncer off Jofra Archer and started bleeding through his chin. He did not give up and stitched a century stand with Steve Smith for the fifth wicket.
4. Jofra Archer
It was inevitable that Jofra Archer will set the stage on fire in international cricket. But the young sensation debuted for England in all the formats this year only. So, technically, the speedster has to be one of the finds of this year.
The right-arm pacer was very imposing for Surrey in England’s domestic circuit and other T20 leagues around the world as well. He was drafted in England white-ball squad straight-away before the important World Cup. The Barbados-born was not selected in the preliminary World Cup squad of England. However, it was just a matter of time for the English selectors to draft him in after good performances in the given opportunities.
The 24-year-old is an all-format player and is one of the best bowlers in the world at the moment. Archer finished the World Cup 2019 as the most successful bowler for his side with 20 scalps to his name. His success has not been limited to only white-ball cricket only as he had a good time in the prestigious Ashes too. Appearing in four matches, the express-pacer snared 22 wickets and bagged two five-wicket-hauls as well.
5. Marnus Labuschagne
Marnus Labuschagne has been arguably the best find of this year. During his Test debut and in his early Test career, Labuschagne did not boast of very great numbers in the first-class cricket. Before enjoying the dream run in the Ashes, his batting average was mere 26.25 in whites. However, the tables turned when he signed a deal with Glamorgan to play county cricket before the Ashes.
Averaging more than 61, the right-handed batsman amassed 1,100 runs in just 10 matches. This incredible stat tells a thing or two about his hunger to score consistently. This county stint made his case stronger for the Ashes and was rewarded with a place in Australia’s squad. However, Marnus got an opportunity to showcase his skills when he came as a concussion substitute for Steve Smith.
Since the 25-year-old played his first inning in the Ashes, he has been the best Australian Test batsman scoring 893 runs. The next best Aussie batsman is David Warner who has scored 257 runs less than Labuschagne. Owing to brilliant performances consistently, the South African moved to the fifth spot in the ICC Test rankings. He is one of the top contenders to win the awards like ‘ICC Test Player of the Year’ and ‘Emerging Player of the Year’ as well.
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