England player of the year
It took Jonny Bairstow a while to find his feet in Test cricket but he has dug England out of trouble on many occasions this year. The 27-year-old didn’t score a century in his first 21 Tests but racked up three during 2016 as well as eight half centuries. He notched an unbeaten 150 in England’s first innings against South Africa in Cape Town in January and never looked back. He’s had a fantastic year and gets my vote. In the limited overs format, Joe Root has been Mr Consistency. In 14 one-day international innings during the past 12 months the Yorkshireman averages more than 60 and has also contributed in the Twenty20 arena.
Ones to watch in 2017
Haseeb Hameed and Keaton Jennings both put their hands up in county cricket during the summer and were rewarded with international honours this winter. Both impressed and I’m really intrigued to see how they go when the Test series with the West Indies and South Africa roll around. Northamptonshire’s Ben Duckett is another who deserved his chance with England. He was awarded the Players’ Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards by the Professional Cricketers’ Association in September and I can’t look beyond him for my county cricket star of the summer. Warwickshire batsman Sam Hain is someone I’m keen to keep a close eye on next season.
Memory of the year
Two spring to mind. All-rounder Ben Stokes’s double hundred against South Africa, which also came in the Cape Town Test in January, was special. He raced to 200 in 163 balls – England’s quickest ever double ton and the second fastest in history. But I also have to mention the World Twenty20 in India during March and April, which of course will bring back bad memories for Stokes. The tournament itself and specifically the final were both fabulous and great adverts for the game. Carlos Brathwaite hitting four successive sixes in the final over off Stokes as the West Indies claimed an astonishing and unlikely victory was an incredible moment.
World player of the year
India captain Virat Kohli. His averages across all formats this year, which range from 75.93 in Tests to more than 100 in Twenty20 internationals, have been phenomenal. Factor in the best average of any batsman in the Indian Premier League and that amounts to a terrific year. England certainly bore the brunt of that form in the recent series where Kohli was imperious.
Seamer of the year
I’m going to indulge myself and consider my former profession. Chris Woakes was England’s most consistent and threatening seamer in home conditions during the summer, even more so than James Anderson and Stuart Broad. On previous occasions when he played Test cricket, he didn’t seem to have the necessary pace or skills, although he does now. Globally, Australia’s Josh Hazlewood is someone I always enjoy watching and who is an extremely consistent pace bowler.