England striker Joe Root named Wisden’s best cricketer in the world after breaking record in 2021

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oe Root has been named Wisden’s best cricketer in the world for the first time after his sensational batting exploits in 2021, his final year as England captain.

The 159th edition of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack 2022 is released on Thursday, with Root decorated as the top male player and South Africa’s Lizelle Lee the top female cricketer in the world.

Wisden editor Lawrence Booth also named his five Cricketers of the Year, an award based on the English summer that a player can only win once. These awards have been given since 1889 and are the oldest individual awards in cricket.

Reflecting a lackluster summer for the England men’s team, only one of five is England, Ollie Robinson, who overcame a tumultuous Test debut in which offensive tweets were revealed to take 37 wickets in his first year in both as international.

Instead, touring players are celebrated, with Devon Conway rewarded for a double century of Test debuts at Lord’s and being part of New Zealand’s World Test Championship-winning squad.

Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah also win the award for their outstanding contributions to India’s dominance in their unfinished Test series against England.

Dane van Niekerk, the South African captain, wins the award for her role in the inaugural edition of the Women’s Hundred. She led Oval Invincibles to the title, was the tournament’s top scorer and most valuable player.

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Root’s award comes five days after he resigned as England captain after five years in the role. In 2021, he completed 1,708 tries, including six centuries, despite his struggling side, especially with the bat.

“Root rose above the England Test team’s struggles to produce one of the best performances ever in a calendar year,” says Booth. “His 1,708 runs were beaten only by Mohammad Yousuf in 2006 and Viv Richards in 1976, and included six hundred. And he scored his points in his fifth year as England captain, at that by then many of his predecessors had already called it a day.

Ben Stokes, who is set to succeed Root as test captain, won the award in 2019 and 2020.

Other winners this year include England U19 star Jacob Bethell, who is Wisden Schools Cricketer of the Year, and Mohammad Rizwan, who takes the Leading Twenty20 Cricketer in the World.

The Almanac gives a comprehensive account of the state of the game and, certainly through an English lens, it is one of the darkest editions of recent times, following the racism scandal that has rocked the game (Azeem Rafiq writes of his experience), the added impact of Covid-19, the lavish bonuses handed out to ECB leaders and the dwindling fortunes of England’s ‘delusional’ men’s team throughout the year.

Booth addresses all of these issues in his notes, describing him as an “annus horribilis” and calling on CEO Tom Harrison to return his bounty.

“Could there ever have been a greater gap between what English cricket hoped to be and what it was – between fact and fantasy?” Booth wrote. “In early 2022, a long-planned assault on the Ashes ended in total surrender…Before that, a racist scandal brought to light by the bravery of Azeem Rafiq made the game unwelcoming, and worse still, there was little to cherish.


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