Wednesday 18 December 2019 5:22 pm

Review of 2019: Stokes has been England's inspiration and Archer has broken through

This year has been a memorable one for English cricket, with the World Cup and the Ashes getting people talking about the sport.

My end-of-year review could not overlook that impact.

Player of the year

I can’t pick anyone other than Ben Stokes, who became the first cricketer since Andrew Flintoff in 2005 to win the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award on Sunday.

Stokes was at the forefront of everything good England did in 2019. As a senior player, he stood up just when his team needed him to help win the Cricket World Cup and tie the Ashes.

Quite simply, without his influence England wouldn’t have achieved such highs. He made an unbeaten 84 in the World Cup final to level the scores and force a super over, while his 135 not out in the third Ashes Test at Headingley was one of the best Test innings ever and, for me, the best by an Englishman. 

Those are just the stand-out moments, but throughout the year Stokes stepped up time and again in all different situations.    

Breakthrough player

It may feel like Jofra Archer has been around for quite a long time, because of his success with Sussex and in the Big Bash and the Indian Premier League, but he only made his international debut in May.

His breakthrough in international cricket came straight away as he quickly became one of the first names on the teamsheet.

Jofra Archer
Archer bowled the super over for England in the World Cup final against New Zealand (via Getty Images)

Archer took 20 wickets at the World Cup and although his super over wasn’t the best, he still embraced the pressure and got England over the line in the final.

The way he shook up Steve Smith in the second Ashes Test at Lord’s was so impressive and I think he will only get better. People just need to understand that he can’t bowl 90mph rockets all the time.

Team of the year

England’s World Cup win had four years of planning behind it and I think people don’t appreciate that aspect of it enough.

They had the right people in every position, with Eoin Morgan and Trevor Bayliss leading from the front to deservedly get their hands on the trophy.

I also think Essex should receive a great amount of credit for winning the County Championship and T20 Blast in one campaign. 

Essex are only a small club, but Anthony McGrath has continued where Chris Silverwood left off to achieve a brilliant season.

Moment of the year

This is an easy one to narrow down, but a tricky one to decide on. I watched both of Stokes’ miraculous innings and both brought out the same anxiety and emotion in me.

His efforts in winning the World Cup will have the greater legacy and the topsy turvy moments made it all the more special: Trent Boult standing on the boundary rope and a throw going off the back of his bat for a boundary. Jason Roy’s run-out that won it was amazing.

Jos Buttler
Jos Buttler celebrates running out Martin Guptill to win the World Cup final (via Getty Images)

The Headingley innings, and the partnership with Jack Leach in particular, was something never seen before – pure drama and a sportsman at his absolute prime. The boundary off Pat Cummins to seal the comeback was incredible. 

For me they are both equal, but had England won the Ashes the Headingley Test might just have edged it.

Prediction for 2020

There is a Twenty-20 World Cup next year and I can only see England’s white-ball side carrying momentum from 2019 and going from strength to strength. 

In the Tests I’m sure they will have a good summer at home. As always, it’s about performing away and I hope they can capitalise on the internal issues South Africa are currently facing to get 2020 off to a flying start. 

Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad can’t play on forever, so the younger players will have to step up next year to ensure a smooth transition. 

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