It says much for Labuschagne’s sheer prolific scoring that 2022 was a year of fits and starts yet still reaped nearly 1000 runs and four centuries at a strike rate of almost 63. A first overseas Test century, against Sri Lanka in Galle, was a highlight, as was his double century in Perth that put a stop to any West Indian hopes of a competitive showing in Australia.
11 Tests: 957 runs at 56.29, four centuries
More than a decade after his debut, Chandimal finally put together the sorts of innings that his talent has always suggested possible. A masterful double century against Australia helped to ensure that the two-match series in Galle would end tied. But it was far from Chandimal’s only moment to be proud of – he also played vital innings against Pakistan, and through it all offered a combination of silk and steel that might allow the 32-year-old to finally make the most of his ability.
6 Tests: 719 runs at 102.71, two centuries
Seldom does a single batter play three or four of the best innings of the year all on his own, but for a period in 2022 it felt like Bairstow was putting in nominees for knock of the year every time he went out to bat. No one benefited more from England’s new, unbridled approach than Bairstow, although it should not be forgotten that he started 2022 with a defiant hundred in Sydney to deny Australia a 5-0 sweep. A broken leg suffered on the golf course was a cruel twist in the tale, denying Bairstow a role in the Pakistan tour.
10 Tests: 1061 runs at 66.31, six centuries
If judged purely on runs and wickets, Stokes would make this side. But it was with the force of his personality and a happy union with England’s Test coach Brendon McCullum that Stokes left an indelible mark on the year. After resounding defeats by Australia and the West Indies, England were nowhere. By year’s end they had made all manner of history with a refreshing approach to Test cricket that took fear of consequences out of the equation. Stokes’ masterpiece was the first Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi: five days of perspiration and inspiration to wring victory from the dullest of pitches.
15 Tests: 26 wickets at 31.19, 870 runs at 36.25, two centuries
As the world waits for more positive news after Rishabh’s horrible car accident in India, it is worth remembering how well he performed in Tests this year. Centuries in Cape Town and Birmingham, the first quite controlled, the second anything but, were at the top of the scale, but so too were vital contributions against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Batting as high as five, Rishabh gave India enormous flexibility, and now just as much concern that he makes a full recovery from the crash.
7 Tests: 680 runs at 61.81, two centuries, 23 catches, 6 stumpings
Firmly ensconced as the world’s top-ranked bowler, Cummins maintained his pre-eminence in 2022 despite also carrying the mantle of the Australian captaincy. Whether as a bowler or a leader, Cummins did most things well. In a period where Australia chalked up five consecutive trophy wins or retentions, his best moments were shared between a beautifully balanced declaration in Lahore to set-up Australia’s first series win in Pakistan since 1998, and a measured response to the team’s only defeat of the year, to Sri Lanka in Galle. India and England beckon.
10 Tests: 36 wickets at 21.83, two five-wicket hauls
It was a tight call between Jansen and England’s Mark Wood, who made up in impact for the fact that he was only able to play five Tests for the year. But ultimately South Africa’s splendid pace attack needed representation, and Jansen’s consistency made him an apposite choice. Using his height to good effect and swinging the ball, Jansen has drawn comparisons with Australia’s similarly loping left-armer Bruce Reid, and it is hoped that the younger man has a longer career ahead of him. He certainly has more capability than Reid ever possessed with the bat.
8 Tests: 36 wickets at 19.02, one five-wicket haul
A marvel at 40, Anderson’s lithe frame continued to carry plenty of weight for England, as he prospered in all manner of conditions. Amidst all the talk of “Bazball” and its hyper-aggression with the bat, Anderson marshalled an England attack that made the most of its qualities while also incorporating more lateral thinking at key moments, not least in Pakistan. Invalided out of the Ashes in 2019 due to calf problems, Anderson would love nothing more than to play a major role in 2023 series, which will conclude shortly after his 41st birthday.
9 Tests: 36 wickets at 19.80, one five-wicket haul
If Nathan Lyon was the world’s most consistent spin bowler across 2022, none could match the sheer impact of Jayasuriya’s 29 wickets in a mere three matches. Called into the Sri Lankan squad after their frontline spin bowlers had been outdone by Australia in the first Test in Galle, Jayasuriya proceeded to dominate with slow bowling that showcased plenty of guile and persistence in addition to the help on offer to him.
3 Tests: 29 wickets at 20.37, four five-wicket hauls, one 10-wicket haul
12th man – Scott Boland
With 21 wickets at 13.66 from five matches, Boland proved himself the best possible back-up seamer for Australia, to the point that previously straightforward conversations about the pecking order behind Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc became less so. This is all without mentioning the sheer delight that accompanied every Boland breakthrough.
5 Tests: 21 wickets at 13.66