Listed here are TFT’s annual awards courtesy of Billy Crawford. Glad New Yr to all…
Hero of the yr – Ben Stokes
Has anybody within the historical past of cricket ever had such a transformative impact on the sport as Benjamin Stokes has wrought within the final 12 months? In that case, it’s laborious to consider one. In June, the Durham man, together with coach Brendan McCullum, took on an England crew which had gained 1 of its final 17 Exams and was starting to make the shambles of the 1999s appear to be the glory years of English cricket. Seven months later his file as captain reads 9 wins and 1 defeat; Ben and Baz don’t do attracts.
Stokes has dragged English cricket off the canvas and made the nationwide crew one of the crucial feared outfits on the world stage. In doing so he has additionally remodeled how we take into consideration Take a look at cricket and pushed the boundaries of what has been thought of doable for 150 years. 500 runs on the primary day? No drawback. Chase almost 300 in a few periods or play for the draw? Not even a debate.
This summer season Ben Stokes got down to do two issues: make enjoying for England enjoyable once more and to save lots of Take a look at cricket. The primary has unquestionably been achieved. Don’t guess in opposition to him doing the second as effectively.
Villain of the yr – Tom Harrison
Not for the Hundred or the obscene bonuses, each of these issues had been sealed lengthy earlier than 2022. No, the outgoing ECB chairman wins this yr’s nomination for his parting present to English cricket: a brand new TV deal that ties his successor to each pay TV and the Hundred till 2028.
Signed simply earlier than his departure, and seemingly with little or no wiggle room for renegotiation, the TV deal is Harrison’s closing two fingers to the sport, a approach of guaranteeing that his cash obsessed imaginative and prescient for the way forward for cricket on this nation will dwell on lengthy after his depressing tenure has been forgotten.
Batsman of the yr – Jonny Bairstow
Can there be every other? Within the area of 1 wonderful summer season the Yorkshireman remodeled himself from perennial underachiever to certainly one of England’s finest with a string of barely plausible performances. His extraordinary 136 of 92 balls propelled England to an inconceivable victory in opposition to New Zealand at Trent Bridge and kickstarted the Bazball revolution. He adopted this up 162 and 71 not out within the subsequent Take a look at at Headingley after which an impressive pair of tons of in opposition to India at Edgbaston. We additionally discovered the which means of the phrase “Jonny eyes”.
Bizarrely, England’s embarrassment of batting riches signifies that Stokes and McCullum could have fairly a headache discovering a spot for Bairstow when he returns from the freak damage which stored him out of England’s tour of Pakistan. He might even discover himself holding wicket once more. Both approach, the prospect of Jonny discovering his 2022 kind in time to withstand the Australians subsequent summer season is actually mouth watering.
Bowler of the yr – Jack Leach
Jack Leach is the main Take a look at wicket taker in 2022. Sure, you learn that sentence proper. Jack Leach, main Take a look at wicket taker within the WORLD. It’s a statistic that appears barely plausible when he was being derided for his performances within the West Indies again in February. Nonetheless, it seems all he wanted was a captain that had religion in him.
Ben Stokes made it clear from the offset that the Somerset man was his primary spinner, bowling him earlier than lunch on the primary morning, refusing to set the kind of defensive fields that had negated his effectiveness beneath Joe Root even when Leach requested them. Stokes’ delight at his spinner’s 5 wicket haul in opposition to New Zealand at Headingley was clear for everybody to see.
In fact, there are caveats to Leach’s performances – his 46 wickets got here at 38.28, hardly a world beating common. He additionally suffered considerably disappointing statistics on the latest tour of Pakistan. Nonetheless, 2022 was nonetheless an enormous renaissance for one of many recreation’s most likeable characters – though in 2023 he might discover his place beneath menace from the recipient of our subsequent award…
Younger participant of the yr – Rehan Ahmed
Earlier this yr a video emerged of Shane Warne telling a 13 yr previous leg spinner that he would play county cricket by the age of 15. That younger boy was Rehan Ahmed and even the good Warne would have scarcely imagined that he could be taking Take a look at match wickets aged 18. The youngest ever England debutant did himself proud in Karachi, bamboozling among the most interesting gamers of spin on the earth on his technique to a 5 wicket haul on his Take a look at debut.
We have now been right here earlier than with promising England leg spinners. Chris Schofield anybody? However on first impressions Ahmed does appear to be the true deal, so long as he’s fastidiously managed by Stokes and McCullum, and allowed loads of time to be taught his craft within the county recreation. His rejection of an IPL contract to play for Leicestershire within the Championship is a promising signal. This younger man may very well be round for a very long time to come back.
The raging in opposition to the dying of the sunshine award – Darren Stevens
46 years previous and nonetheless going sturdy, the profession of Darren Stevens warms the hearts of cricket followers all over the place. 2022 might not have been fairly as exceptional a yr as 2021 statistically, however there have been nonetheless moments of brilliance together with an innings of 84 of 65 balls in Kent’s Royal London Cup semi closing victory in opposition to Hampshire.
Stevens described himself as “harm” by Kent’s refusal to supply him a contract for subsequent season however the county’s victory over Hampshire within the RL Cup closing at Trent Bridge was nonetheless a becoming ending to his 17 years on the membership. On the time of writing, Darren Stevens doesn’t have a membership for 2023 however he has introduced his intention to hold on enjoying if anybody could have him. And who would guess in opposition to this most evergreen of cricketers carrying on for a short while but?
To the longer term
So now that 2022 is over, what can we look ahead to in 2023? It’s heartening to see that the primary 7 rounds of the County Championship will embrace a Saturday’s play. Perhaps we will dream of crowds streaming by means of the gates to take pleasure in a revitalised Championship – saved from the jaws of Sir Andrew Strauss’ Excessive Efficiency Assessment – and of sunny weekends the place young and old alike take pleasure in a day on the cricket.
There may even be the enjoyment of seeing Eire play a Take a look at match at Lord’s once more, though they must go some to match their efficiency of 2019 the place England had been bowled out for 85 earlier than lunch on the opening day.
After which, after all, there’s the Ashes. The travesty of not enjoying it over the summer season holidays apart, it will likely be thrilling to see Ben and Baz tackle the oldest enemy. Maybe an urn-clinching hundred from Jonny Bairstow on the final day at The Oval, al a Kevin Pietersen in 2005, is an excessive amount of to hope for however then once more all the things appears doable right now of yr.