Ben Stokes named world’s best cricketer

Ben Stokes was named men’s cricketer of the year in the International Cricket Council’s 2019 awards ahead of this morning’s third Test in Port Elizabeth.

Player of the year: Englands Ben Stokes celebrates winning the third Ashes Test at Headingley. (Picture: Mike Egerton/PA)

Stokes’s compelling performances underpinned England’s first World Cup win on home soil, not least his never-say-die innings in the dramatic Lord’s final, and his unforgettable match-winning 135 not out in the Ashes Test at Headingley was an instant classic.

Accepting the prestigious Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy, voted for by a panel of the media representatives and former players, Stokes said: “The past 12 months have been incredible for England cricket and to lift the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup for the first time was our greatest achievement.

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“This award is testament to my team-mates and the support staff that have been there every step of the way. Fundamentally, without the support of these individuals, we would never achieved our objective of lifting a major trophy.

England's Ben Stokes in the World Cup final (Picture: PA)

“There is an incredible bond between team-mates and to savour our achievements, whether that’s winning the World Cup final at Lord’s or digging deep to win a Test match against Australia at Headingley.

“It is satisfying you can accomplish these superb highs together. The last 12 months have been the best in my career, and I believe what we attained will be the catalyst to achieve further success over the next few years.”

Stokes showcased his compelling all-round skills throughout the voting period,scoring 719 runs and taking 12 wickets in 20 one-day internationals as well 821 runs and 22 wickets in 11 Tests.

There were also several memorable catches, including his one-handed leaping effort in the World Cup curtain-raiser against South Africa.

The 28-year-old was also named in both ICC teams of the year. He was the only English representative in the Test XI, but was joined by wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler in the ODI side.

Anrich Nortje warned, however, that South Africa will “rev it up” when Buttler bats in the third Test.

Buttler was disciplined by the International Cricket Council for an expletive-laden outburst at Vernon Philander during the tourists’ day five victory in Cape Town, earning one demerit point and losing 15 per cent of his match fee.

Buttler has publicly apologised for over-stepping the mark but Nortje, who had consistently bowled beyond 90mph in the series, suggested the Proteas would have extra motivation when he arrived at the crease.

“It definitely gets one or two guys going,” said Nortje. “It’s not really something you can say on a stump mic. That’s for umpires and whoever to sort out but it does get the blood flowing, and once we identify a moment we will probably try and rev it up.”

England could well be fighting fire with fire at St George’s Park, with express pace duo Mark Wood and Jofra Archer both angling for selection providing they prove their fitness. The pair were clocked at over 95mph in 2019 and Nortje welcomes any injection of speed on the scene.

“It’s nice to see on the big screen where you are at, it’s nice to keep your eye out but it’s not a competition really,” he said.

“It gets the energy up and the blood flowing, it’s gets the boys going. It’s nice to have a few quicks in the series.”

Australia also fared well in the ICC voting, with fast bowler Pat Cummins named Test player of the year for his haul of 59 wickets – 14 more than his nearest rival – and Marnus Labuschagne winning emerging player of the year.

He flourished after becoming Test cricket’s first concussion substitute when Archer floored Steve Smith at Lord’s, averaging 64.94.

India opener Rohit Sharma was ODI player of the year, having scored seven 50-overs centuries including five at the World Cup.

England’s Richard Illingworth picked up the umpiring gong and Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer was recognised as associate cricketer of the year.

India captain Virat Kohli was honoured in the Spirit of Cricket category, having encouraged fans at The Oval to clap Australian pair Smith and David Warner when they were being booed about their role in the sandpaper scandal.

ICC Test Team of the Year: M Agarwal (Ind), T Latham, (NZ), M Labuschagne (Aus), V Kohli (Ind,c), S Smith (Aus), B Stokes (Eng), BJ Watling (NZ, wkt), P Cummins (Aus), M Starc (Aus), N Wagner (NZ), N Lyon (Aus).

ICC ODI Team of the Year: R Sharma (Ind), S Hope (WI), V Kohli (Ind, c), B Azam (Pak), K Williamson (NZ), B Stokes (Eng), J Buttler (Eng, wkt), M Starc (Aus), T Boult (NZ), M Shami (Ind), K Yadav (Ind).