The southpaw was in sublime form in 2018, aggregating 658 runs at an impressive average of 59.81. The highlight of Latham’s wonderful run was his undefeated 264versus Sri Lanka at Basin Reserve as he became only the second cricketer from New Zealand to carry the bat during the course of a Test innings. He also notched up a brilliant 176 in the second Test at the Hagley Oval versus the same team.
The seasoned left-handed batsman from Sri Lanka also had a good time this year, ending up with 743 runs at a noteworthy average of 46.43. In what turned out to be a forgettable year for Sri Lanka, he was one of the few bright spots. Karunratne’s importance to the side can be encapsulated by the point that in the first Test against South Africa in Galle, he carried the bat to compile a match-turning unbeaten 158.
The calm and composed New Zealand captain will take the crucial No.3 slot in the batting order. The 28-year-old put on a wonderful exhibition of batsmanship in the second innings of the Abu Dhabi Test against Pakistan. The visitors were still 14 runs in arrears when the fourth wicket fell in the second innings. Williamson (139) and Henry Nicholls (126) then stitched a splendid stand of 212 to not just help the side recover but eventually, inspired New Zealand to a memorable victory. Earlier in the year, Williamson had also showcased exemplary technique to handle the swing and seam bowling of England’s James Anderson to crunch a brilliant hundred. He ended the year with 651 runs at an average of close to 60.
The Indian captain was in stellar form, finishing the year with 1322 runs at an average of 55.08. Time and again he held India’s innings together on overseas tours. During the first innings of the Centurion Test versus South Africa, he cracked a superlative 153. He was in a rich vein of form in the five-match Test series in England, scoring two hundreds. In the first Test at Edgbaston, he took his game to an elevated plane by amassing a superbly paced 149. At the fag end of the year, he also accrued a fine century on a tricky wicket in Perth versus Australia.
The South African lynchpin, who announced his retirement from internationals in 2018, started the year with a crucial hand of 65 on a testing surface versus India in Cape Town. In the second innings of the second Test of the series in Centurion, he again stood tall with a well-measured hand of 80. In the subsequent Test rubber versus Australia, he was in prime form, capsulised by his enterprising unbeaten 126 versus a quality attack in Port Elizabeth.
The ‘keeper-batsman, who made a successful comeback to the England Test team, gave a glimpse of his immense potential with a well constricted fifty in the second innings of the Lord’s Test versus Pakistan. In the subsequent Leeds Test, he was again in fine touch, amassing a vital hand of 80. In the Test series versus India, he notched up his maiden hundred with a hard-earned 106 at Trent Bridge. In the three-match Test series in Sri Lanka, he negated the spin threat posed by the opposition bowlers with a couple of attractive fifties. He accumulated 760 runs at an average of over 44 in 2018.
Holder had a fruitful 2018 with both bat and ball. © Getty
The Windies captain grew in stature during the course of the year. He snared 33 scalps at an astonishing average of 12.39. In 2018, Holder also recorded his best match figures by taking 11 scalps for 103 runs against Bangladesh in Jamaica. The Windies skipper also scored 336 runs at an average of 37.33.
The tall fast bowler turned out to be the mainstay of Australia’s pace attack, scalping 44 wickets at just 19.97. In what turned out to be a tumultuous year for Australia, Cummins kept lifting the spirits of the side with zestful spells. In the MCG Test versus India, he achieved his best career figures in an innings – 6/27 and also recorded his highest individual Test score – 63.
Yasir Shah picked 38 wickets in 6 Tests at an average of 23.52 but Lyon edges past him, with 49 wickets in 10 Tests at an average of 33.59. “Across different conditions, he has had a fantastic year,” Harsha Bhogle says. Lyon picked 12 wickets across two Tests in the UAE and then returned home to pick two consecutive five-wicket hauls against India in Adelaide and Perth.
Abbas was a no-brainer. The right-arm seamer stunned right through the year with an average of 13.76 in 7 Tests, picking 38 wickets including three five-wicket hauls and one ten-wicket haul. He picked five wickets in both the innings versus Australia in Abu Dhabi after starting the year off in May with eight wickets in Ireland’s maiden Test match in Malahide.
As 2018 grew, Jasprit Bumrah grew. He made his Test debut at Cape Town against South Africa and went on to pick his maiden five-wicket haul in the third Test at Johannesburg, triggering a year for India that saw them win at Trent Bridge, Adelaide and Melbourne too. Overall, Bumrah picked 45 wickets in 9 Tests at an average of 21.24, including three five-fers.