Cricketers of the year

Cricketers of the year

New Zealand cricketers Kane Williamson and Suzie Bates have been named the Leading Men’s Cricketer in the World and Leading Women’s Cricketer in the World by renowned cricketing almanac Wisden.

Williamson became the first New Zealander to receive the honour when it was introduced in 2004. He joins a list of past recipients that include Ricky Ponting, Shane Warne, Kumar Sangakkara, Jacques Kallis, and Muttiah Murilitharan.

The New Zealand captain was also joined by his predecessor Brendon McCullum in a separate list of the ‘five cricketers of the year’, a Wisden tradition that began in 1889 that names the best players of the calendar year in both international cricket and English domestic cricket. 

This year marked the first time that two New Zealanders had been included in the list in the same season. Christchurch-born English all-rounder Ben Stokes was also on the list. Fellow Englishman Jonny Bairstow and Australian captain Steve Smith were the other cricketers of the year.

Before this season, only two New Zealanders had been named a cricketer of the year since the turn of the century (Chris Cairns, 2000; Jeetan Patel, 2015). 

In 2015, Williamson had one of the best seasons by a batsman in cricketing history. His 2,692 runs at an average of 65.65 across all three formats, was the third highest aggregate in a calendar year behind Kumar Sangakkara in 2014 (2868 at 53.11) and Ricky Ponting in 2005 (2833 at 56.66). 

For Dunedin’s own Suzie Bates, the award recognises her consistent world class performances in the women’s game. In 14 ODI appearances in 2015 Bates scored 585 runs at an average of 48.75, including a century and four half centuries.

Since breaking into the New Zealand side in 2006, Bates has gone on to be recognised as one of the best players in women’s cricket, known especially for her power-hitting. She holds the record for the highest score by a New Zealand player in ODIs, with a match-winning 168 off 105 balls against Pakistan in the 2009 World Cup semi-final ensuring a place in the final of the competition.

When asked why Bates was given the award, Wisden editor Lawrence Booth said “it needed something special to deny both Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry this award, and Bates’s all-around performances were precisely that.” This award is not the first for Bates. In 2013, she was named the ICC Women’s ODI Cricketer of the Year. 

A talented sportswomen, Bates has also played basketball for New Zealand, and even competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. After being named captain of the White Ferns in 2011, she decided to put her basketball days behind her and focus on cricket.

Both Williamson and Bates recently led their respective sides to a semi-final berth in the recent ICC Twenty20 World Cup in India.

This article first appeared in Issue 8, 2016.
Posted 10:56am Sunday 24th April 2016 by Sean Nugent.