Talismanic India batter Kohli, left-arm spin all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, along with Australia captain Pat Cummins and left-handed batter Travis Head have been nominated for the ICC Men’s Cricketer of the Year 2023 award.
Kohli, who is also nominated for the ICC Men’s ODI Player of the Year 2023 award, is in contention to win his third Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy, given to the winner of this honour, after amassing 2048 runs in 35 matches in 2023. He had won this award previously in 2017 and 2018.
In Tests, Kohli began with an important 44 against Australia in the second Test of the 2023 Border-Gavaskar Series at his hometown New Delhi, which helped India post a solid total in the first innings of a game they went on to win.
In the final game of the same series, Kohli hit a majestic 186 at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, also his first Test century since 2019. It didn’t take him much time to add to that number, hitting a 121 against the West Indies.
It was in the ODI format that Kohli shone the brightest, hitting six ODI hundreds, and finishing with 50 centuries in the format. This helped him become the player with the most ODI hundreds, overtaking India legend Sachin Tendulkar in the process, when he smashed 117 against New Zealand in the ODI World Cup semi-final.
His stupendous run in the World Cup, helped India reach the final, where they finished runners-up. The batter hit 765 runs, the most by any player in any single edition of the World Cup, and was eventually awarded Player of the Tournament. If he wins, it would be Kohli’s third Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy, the most by any men’s player.
The 2023 was also the year Jadeja made a successful return to the field after a knee injury which needed surgery forcing him to miss the Asia Cup and 2022 Men’s T20 World Cup. In 2023, Jadeja made 613 runs and 66 wickets in 35 matches across all formats.
Jadeja picked 22 wickets in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy at home and played an important role in India winning the series. He also made a resilient 70 in the first Test against Australia at Nagpur that helped India to a massive lead and then ran through the batting order to take 7/42 in Australia’s second innings at New Delhi, where his match haul was 10/110.
Other notable contributions include an attacking 48 in adverse circumstances in the WTC Final at The Oval, and a couple of feisty knocks in the West Indies. In ODIs, Jadeja picked 31 wickets, including taking 16 wickets at an average of 24.87 in the World Cup. He also took a career-best performance of 5/33 against South Africa at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
Cummins had an outstanding 2023 as Australia retained the Ashes and won its first-ever World Test Championship mace in England with a win over India in the final. He achieved more glory by winning the 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup title in India, winning eight matches on the trot after losing the first two games, to claim the trophy for an unprecedented sixth time.
As a player, Cummins showed all-round form in Tests, being a crucial player in Australia’s pace attack, and upping the ante with the bat when needed. In the opening Ashes Test in Birmingham, despite going wicketless in the first innings, Cummins contributed with a sturdy 38 to lessen England’s advantage to merely 10 runs.
Cummins then picked four wickets to ensure that Australia’s target was under 300 to win. When the tourists were in trouble at 192/6 and then 229/8, Cummins played a fighting knock to win Australia a thrilling Test.
In the ODIs, he played several crucial knocks lower down the order, while also making crucial breakthroughs in his economic spells and being at his tactical best time in the World Cup final. Cummins signed off a remarkable year with his second ten-wicket haul in Test cricket, helping Australia win the Test series over Pakistan.
His teammate Head, who also earned an ICC Men’s Test Cricketer of the Year 2023 nomination, had a superb year in being a crucial hand in Australia’s successes in the World Cup, World Test Championship final and the Ashes.
Head, named in the ICC Men’s ODI Team of the Year 2022, had to deal with a fractured left hand that threatened to rule him out of the World Cup. He made a solid comeback with a ton against New Zealand in Dharamshala and went on to be the Player of the Match for his inimitable performances in the semi-final and the final against South Africa and India respectively.
His strike rate during the tournament was an impressive 127.51, only slightly below his run in the year (133.17), while making 329 runs. In the WTC final against India, Head was the top-scorer with a 163 in the first innings. His knock helped Australia to a dominant score, and an eventual 209-run win.
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