I was recently asked who my favourite cricketer was and that got me thinking. I just can’t pick one, I can’t even pick one from each country, so with that in mind I’m going to pick players from the 9 countries I’ve seen play this summer in England. I’m going to go alphabetically and try to stick to no more than 4 from each country.
As England is my country they’re the team I see most often , I’m going with 4 current England players – a batsman, bowler, bowler/batsman and wicket-keeper/batsman. I’m not including Joe Root, although he must have a special mention.
Alastair Cook – he also plays for the county I support, in his 147 tests he’s scored 11,629 international runs, with a highest score of 294 and made 31 centuries and 55 50’s, in addition he’s taken 153 catches, yes he dropped a couple against the West Indies, but he’s held a lot! He’s hit 1,341 4’s but only 11 6’sin test cricket, they’re a sight to behold when it happens! In total he’s scored 21,047 First Class runs and taken 277 catches. As an Essex fan and member I’ve seen Alastair off the field too, he’s a kind man and gives his time to many people at the club, especially to those most in need.
Jonny Bairstow – his wicketkeeping has improved beyond recognition, he’s made 119 catches and 7 stumpings. I’m picking him for his batting he has 2,824 test runs from 77 innings with a highest score of 167* and including 3 centuries and 17 50’s. In total he’s scored 10,018 First Class runs and taken 390 catches with a highest score of 246, in common with my next choice he’s saved England’s bacon several times. Another thing I’ve loved about Jonny is the way he’s smiled through being Englands’ 12th man in ODI matches so often then slipped back in to bail them out! And lo and behold the day after this was written Jonny opened the batting against the West Indies and scored his first 100! I couldn’t be happier for him!
Moeen Ali – This is the man who is apparently Englands’ second spinner when there’s another on the field! I’ve been lucky enough to see Moeen play many times in the last few year, he has a habit of taking key wickets and scoring runs when his team is in a pickle! He’s a delight to watch when he’s in determined mode, one of Englands’ best when he’s in scoring mode. He’s scored 2,288 runs from 74 innings with a highest score of 155* , with 5 centuries and 12 50’s. On the bowling side Moeen’s taken 128 wickets in 78 innings at an average of 37.32 and an economy rate of 3.66. Moeen is a credit to his country. He’s also becoming something of an ODI star, just today scoring a century in 61 matches he’s scored 1,216 runs with a high of 128, 3 centuries and 5 50’s.
James Anderson – `A man who reached a major milestone in 2017 reaching and overtaking the 500 wicket mark. At the end of the summer in England he stands at 506 wickets at an average of 27.39 and an economy rate of 2.94 achieved over 129 matches. In First Class cricket he’s taken 837 wickets at an average of 25.67. Batting at number 11 Jimmy’s been a part of many great partnerships, holding his end this summer at the Oval when Ben Stokes reached his century for one. He’s hugely popular amongst England cricket fans.
David Warner – a player who seems to be rather like Marmite, I’m a fan! I was lucky enough to go to every Ashes test in England in 2015 and enjoyed watching Warner play, he’s aggressive with the bat and a superb fielder. His habit of re-fixing his gloves before every shot fascinated me over that summer! He’s played in 66 test matches and scored 5,705 runs with a highest score of 253, he’s also taken 52 catches in those games. Overall he has 7,762 First Class runs. He’s a fine white ball player and between ODI’s and T20 he’s scored 5,736 runs and added a futher 77 catches! An entertaining cricketer.
Steven Smith – Quite simply one of the best batsmen in the world, and none too shoddy as a fielder either! In the 56 tests he’s played in Smith has scored 5,370 runs with a highest score of 215, and including 20 centuries and 21 50’s. He has a total of 9,279 First Class runs. He’s taken 79 catches in test cricket and another 77 in white ball international cricket. He’s a unorthodox batsman, which for me makes him exciting to watch. He’s also taken 17 test wickets as that was his believed strength when he first started out and before he found himself amongst the very best.
Glenn Maxwell – A man who hasn’t played many tests – just 7 scoring 339 runs with a highest score of 104. He’s played 78 ODI’s for his country, scoring 2,016 runs and taking 47 catches. So, not a stand out player, but, there’s just something about him I like, its an attitude thing I think.
Tamim Iqbal – I confess to not knowing too much about Bangladesh, but this man impressed me when he played against England in the Champions Trophy, scoring a highly entertaining century. He’s played in 51 tests for his country, scoring 3,847 runs with a highest score of 206. He’s also scored 5,743 ODI runs and 1,257 T20 runs. He clearly plays with a lot of passion and had a confrontation with Ben Stokes at The Oval.
Virat Kohli – One of the most recognised faces in World Cricket, he went unnoticed when India toured in England in 2014, the name that stuck in my mind from that tour was Rahane. But wow, how this mans’ star has risen. He’s played 60 Test matches and scored 4,658 runs with a high score of 235, with 17 centuries and 14 50’s and 6,907 First Class runs in total. He’s currently the best batsman in the world when it comes to ODI’s, he’s played 197 matches and scored 8,707 runs, with 30 centuries and 45 50’s. He’s a superb fielder and has taken 57 catches in tests, 92 in ODI’s and 25 in T20’s. He’s a passionate player and from what I saw during the Champions Trophy wears his heart on his sleeve, his team mates will always be aware when he’s not happy as they receive the ‘Kohli Stare’. I couldn’t have been more disappointed when he was out for a duck against Sri Lanka at The Oval and am looking forward to watching him here in 2018.
MS Dhoni – A legend of the game, he’s a fascinating man to watch live, when Kohli opted out of the Sri Lanka game in June MS stepped up and placed the field, slipping back into captain mode. He’s played 90 tests scoring 4,876 runs with a high score of 224 with 6 centuries and 33 50’s. He recently scored his 66th 50 in ODI cricket with the 1 added from T20 that took him to 100 50’s win his career, only the 4th Indian batsman to do so. He’s scored 9,745 ODI runs and taken 286 catches to his 256 in tests cricket. He’s a powerful batsman, who can come in and change the direction of a game, great to watch!
Hardik Pandya – A new star in the India team he’s making a name for himself with his dynamic batting and challenging bowling. He scored a highly impressive 76 from 43 balls in the Champions Trophy Final, being the one on the wrong end of a comedy run out. Just this week he scored 83 against Australia in the first ODI he also took 2 valuable wickets. So, no huge record to make note of….. YET. But this man is an outstanding cricketer, it’ll be very interesting to see what he achieves.
Kane Williamson – An outstanding batsman he’s dyed with the top spot in the World – in 61 tests he’s scored 5,116 runs with a highest score of 242* he’s made 17 centuries and 25 50’s, his First Class total is 9,516 runs. He has a good ODI record scoring 4,605 in 114 matches with a high score of 145* with a further 8 centuries. One of those I saw at Edgbaston when he scored a straight 100 before being run out.
Mohammad Amir – A young man who came back from a scandal, as with many of the Pakistan players he won me over last summer when Pakistan toured England. Having been involved in spot fixing against England at Lords in 2010 at the age of 18 Amir spent time in Feltham Young Offenders, a particularly nasty establishment, especially for an 18 year old from Pakistan. He also served a 5 year ban. He played through some difficult atmosphere’s England in 2016 but persevered and impressed with the ball. To date he’s played in 28 tests and taken 94 wickets at an average of 31.48 and an economy of 2.93. It would be very interesting to see how many catches were dropped from his bowling against England! In the Champions Trophy Finals Amir literally demolished the India top order, taking 3 for 16 and despatching Sharma, Dhawan and Kohli to see India fall to 33 for 3. Also in 2017 he signed for my County, Essex, where he was a star, taking 10 for 72 in the match against Yorkshire was one highlight. It was a pleasure to see him play county cricket and I hope he takes many more international wickets, just not too many against England in 2018!
Hasan Ali – I am going to ‘cheat’ and go back to some of the cricketers I saw in 2016, but I have to mention two bright young Pakistan Players. Firstly the bowler Hasan Ali, he came to my attention during the Champions Trophy. He was Man of the Match in the rain affected game against South Africa taking 3 for 24, as an aside I was at that match to see AB de Villiers out for his first ever Golden Duck, much to my disappointment! He took the MOM honour against England in the semi-final taking 3 for 35 in his 10 overs. His celebration,shown above has become his trademark, I think we’ll be seeing that in world cricket a lot more!
Fakhar Zaman – At the age of 27 Fakhar has played 4 ODI’s and 6 T20’s for his country, he scored a truly wonderful 114 in the Champions Trophy Final to help send his team to an historic victory. He was out to a no ball early in his innings and certainly made the most of it! I look forward to watching him play in England in 2018.
And now I get to my cheat with 3 retired players that I just can’t leave out!
Misbah-ul-Haq – Pakistan’s most successful captain in all three formats of the game with 26 wins. in 75 test matches he scored 5,222 runs with a highest score of 161, I was lucky enough to be at Lords when he scored 114 runs, his new famous salute and press ups celebration was as joyful to behold as his batting ad this match was one of his 26 wins! To a degree he was a saviour for Pakistan cricket, a man with an incredibly calm demeanour he led the way for his team that won hearts and minds as well as games in England.
Younis Khan – A member of the 10,000 runs club when it comes to test cricket, he scored 10,099 runs in 118 matches with a high score of 313, he was ‘jumpy’ for most of the summer in England until he got to the Oval where he scored 218 runs, I saw every run of that innings and was quite amazed when the big screen flashed with the fact the he’d just scored his 1,000th 4! He finished with 1,082 4’s which helped him reach 34 100’s. His First Class runs total is a huge 17,107! A true legend of the game!
Faf du Plessis – I booked my test tickets early for the visit of South Africa to be very disappointed when AB decided test cricket wasn’t for him in 2017! Faf du Plessis missed the first test due to the birth of his child, but arrived for the match at Trent Bridge. The difference in the captaincy was noticeable, he seems to be an ‘intelligent’ cricketer. He’s only played 43 tests for his country and scored 2,597 runs with a highest score of 137, he’s scored 6 centuries. He’s a top fielder and has taken 31 catches in his 43 matches. He’s a very athletic cricketer and plays the game with a smile on his face, he was very enjoyable to watch over the summer.
Hashim Amla – This man is a pleasure to watch, he excels against both the red and white ball. Kohli sets a record when it comes to white ball targets and Amla comes along and overtakes him. In his 107 test innings he’s scored 8,281 runs with a high score of 311, he’s scored 26 centuries and 35 50’s. In ODI’s he’s played 156 matches and scored 7,185 runs with a high of 159. He didn’t excel against England in the tests, but I was lucky enough to see him make a century against Sri Lanka in the Champions Trophy.
Vernon Philander – Philander was South Africa’s best bowler during the summer in England, he bowls accurately, with almost every ball at the right line and length. In his test career of 46 tests he’s taken 171 wickets at an average of 22.45 his economy is at 2.72. His First Class record shows a total of 514 wickets at an average of 21.87 and economy 0f 2.64. He’s a pretty handy batsman as well, he had a couple of decent innings against England over the summer. His fitness can be an issue and he missed most of the test at The Oval with illness before missing the final test with an injury. It was great to watch such an accurate bowler.
Angelo Mathews – He became Sri Lanka’s youngest captain at the age of 25 in 2013 , an all rounder he has been a match winner at times for his country he’s played in 69 tests, scoring 4,718 runs with a highest score of 160. He’s scored 7 centuries and 27 50’s. He’s also taken 33 wickets, albeit with and average of 52.66, his economy is 2.72. He’s scored 4912 ODI runs with a high of 139* and taken 113 wickets. He’s suffered with injury in recent years and is a big loss for his team when counted out.
Although I’ve watched the West Indies in a test series this summer, I’m struggling a bit here. Jermaine Blackwood and Shai Hope impressed in the tests, with How becoming the first player to score a century in both innings at Headingley, he’s a classy batsman with a clear talent. I’m cheating a little with my pick whereas I haven’t actually seen him play international cricket yet, he was injured for the rained out ODI I went to last week, buy include him I must.
Chris Gayle – otherwise the self styled Universe Boss, he’s a marmite cricketer, I’m a fan, I saw him score an effortless 94 against Essex in a T20 match, he’s an incredibly powerful batsman. He captained his test side from 2007 to 2010 but sticks to white ball cricket these days. in his 103 tests he scored 7,214 runs with an incredible highest score of 333 and 15 centuries and 37 50’s. He’s a big miss for his country when it comes to test cricket. Gayle has scored 9,352 ODI runs with a high score of 215 and 22 centuries and 48 50’s, he’s a box office batsman when it comes to the white ball. He excels in T20 as well with a top score of 117. I was lucky enough to meet him this summer and found him to be very pleasant.
My Wild Cards
With my allegiance to Pakistan cricket I have to include a man who is revered in that country, again I haven’t seen him play for his country, but I have been lucky enough to see him play against my County, Essex.
Shahid Afridi – Known as Boom Boom or La La he has to be one of the most popular men in Pakistan! Afridi is genuine All Rounder, he was one of the first cricketers to specialise in the white ball game, before that he played in 27 tests scoring 1,716 runs with highest score of 156 and 5 centuries and 8 50’s. In ODI’s he’s played 398 matches, scoring 8,064 runs with a high of 124, he hit 730 4’s and a probably never to be surpassed 351 6’s, power hitter barely covers this man! He’s taken 395 wickets in his 398 ODI’s and an average of 34.51 and an economy of 4.62. I was thrilled to see him play at the Essex County Ground.
Two Sri Lankan cricketers must get a mention in what’s become a huge article
Mahele Jayawardene – Jayawardnene came along to the Essex County Ground to support Ravi Bopara, he fielded in front of where I was sitting and gave everyone who wanted an autograph or photo his time, he was gracious in the extreme, now a pundit he was a top batsman scoring 11,814 runs in 149 innings with a highest score of 374 and 34 centuries and 50 50’s. He hit a mighty 1,387 4’s and 61 6’s. Add a further 12,650 ODI runs with a high of 144 and another 1,119 4’s and 76 6’s. He’s taking a catch in this photo he took 205 test catches and 218 ODI catches, an exceptional cricketer!
Kumar Sangakarra – If I had to pick just one, I think it would be Kumar Sangakarra, a man who is universally admired in the world of cricket, we in England have been lucky enough to have him playing County Cricket for Surrey for the last 4 years. In this year alone he’s scored 1,442 runs with a highest score of 200, that was against my team, Essex, I saw 179 of those runs and they were an absolute delight to behold, I didn’t care that he was scoring at will against my team. His average this season is 110.92! At a time when his country is struggling it must be hard for them to see, in his 134 tests he scored 12,400 runs with a highest score of 319, 38 centuries and 52 50’s. Within those runs he hit 1,491 4’s and 51 6’s. Behind the stumps he took 182 catches. He’s scored 20,862 First Class runs! His record in ODI’s is as impressive with 14,234 runs in 404 games with a further 1,385 4’s and 88 6’s – he is a virtual run machine! In addition to his prowess with the bat and behind the stumps he comes across as an incredibly pleasant and humble man, I consider myself privileged to have seen him play.