Though cricket is a team sport, it is individual performances that make or mar teams. It is often individuals who are glorified as ‘King’ or ‘God’ or tarred as villains depending on victories or losses. Though fans admire their national teams, one or two players are absolute hot favourites and are followed closely. Slowly and steadily, the fanbases of individual players unravel themselves on social media and inside cricketing arenas. 2023 was no different.

While the year will be remembered for Australia completing a three-peat of ICC World Test Championship, The Ashes and ICC Cricket World Cup, India’s dominant run at home that concluded with heartbreak of a World Cup final loss, the aggression of South African cricket team, England’s ‘Bazball’ school of Test cricket and failing down of old, World Cup winning empires like Sri Lanka, England and West Indies, certain individuals caught the eye of fans with their performances. Let us look at some of the best players of this year:

Virat Kohli (India)

The star batter from India had quite a redemption arc in 2023 following an underwhelming run from 2020-22. Virat broke records day and night, left and right, sometimes even on some off days with the bat. Be it becoming the first batter to touch 50 ODI centuries, making a massive 765 runs in the Cricket World Cup this year to have the best campaign by a batter ever, or chasing legendary Sachin Tendulkar’s legendary batting figures, Virat has given plenty of reasons to India to call him their ‘GOAT’ and follow his every step.

Overall in eight Tests this year, Virat scored 671 runs at an average of 55.61, with two centuries and two fifties in 12 innings. His best score was 186.

In 27 ODIs this year, Virat scored 1,377 runs at an average of 72.47 and a strike rate of 99.13, with six centuries and eight fifties in just 24 innings. His best score was 166.

Finally, in all 35 international matches and 36 innings this year, Virat scored 2,048 runs at an average of 66.06, with eight centuries and 10 fifties in 36 innings.

Virat also had a fine IPL, scoring 639 runs in 14 games at an average of 53.25, with two centuries and six fifties, delivering a statement that he is not finished in T20s.

Shubman Gill (India)

If 2023 belonged to the ‘King Kohli’, the ‘Prince of Indian Cricket’ also started taking baby steps towards greatness and becoming Virat’s successor. Though Gill is still finding his feet in T20Is and Tests, this Punjab batter roared out loud in the ODIs, even becoming the number one ranked batter.

Though Gill is still finding his feet in T20Is and Tests, this Punjab batter roared out loud in the ODIs, even becoming the number one ranked batter.

In six Tests this year, Gill scored 258 runs at an average of 28.66, with a century. His best score was 128. In 29 ODIs, Gill scored 1,584 runs at an average of 63.36 and a strike rate of over 105, with five centuries and nine fifties. His best score was 208. Gill has had an underwhelming 2023 in T20Is, scoring 312 runs in 13 innings at an average of 26.00, with a century and fifty. His best score was 126*.

In 47 international games this year, Gill scored 2,126 runs at an average of 48.31, with seven centuries and 10 fifties. He ended this year as the highest run-maker in international cricket.

He also finished as the ‘Player of the Tournament’ in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for Gujarat Titans, scoring 890 runs in 17 innings at an average of 59.33, with three centuries and four fifties. Gill got the ‘Orange Cap’ for most runs this season of IPL.

Travis Head (Australia)

Travis Head was Australia’s man for the big moments this year, piling up runs whenever he mattered the most. He gave Team India and its fans sleepless nights with his centuries in the final of the ICC World Test Championship and ICC Cricket World Cup, making him a contender for a major ICC Players Award.

In 12 Tests this year, he piled up 919 runs at an average of 41.77 at an impressive strike rate of over 75, with a century and five fifties in 23 innings. His best score was 163. In 13 ODIs this year, Head made 570 runs at an average of 51.81 and a strike rate of over 133. He has scored two centuries and three fifties in 13 innings, with the best score of 137. Striking at over 174, this destructive southpaw scored 209 runs in six T20Is at an average of 34.83, with a knock of 91 as his solitary fifty.

In 31 international matches this year, Head scored 1,698 runs at an average of 43.53 and a strike rate of over 96, with three centuries and nine fifties. His best score is 163.

Rohit Sharma (India)

The ‘Hitman’ will be remembered as a synonym for selflessness this year. He led the Men in Blue from the front with his fearless hitting in the ICC Cricket World Cup, which eased off the pressure of batters coming after him and let them take their time. He led India to a 10-match win streak in the tournament, finishing in a heartbreak in the final.

In 27 ODIs, Rohit scored 1,255 runs at an average of 52.29 and a strike rate of over 117, with two centuries and nine fifties to his name. In eight Tests this year, he scored 545 runs at an average of 41.92 with two centuries and two fifties in 11 innings. His best score was 120.

In 35 international games this year, Rohit scored 1,800 runs at an average of 48.64, with four tons and 11 fifties in 39 innings, with the best score of 131. He also led Mumbai Indians (MI) to the IPL 2023 playoffs, though his batting was underwhelming.

Aiden Markram (South Africa)

This stylish South African batter is the leader for the future. In three Tests, he scored this year a total of 281 runs at an average of 56.20, with a century and fifty. His best score was 115. In 24 ODIs, he scored 1,033 runs at an average of 51.55 and a strike rate of over 113, with three tons and five fifties. His best score was 175. He also scored a 49-ball ton in the Cricket World Cup, which became the fastest in the tournament history until Glenn Maxwell made one in 40 balls against the Netherlands. In eight T20Is, he scored 239 runs at an average of 39.83 and a strike rate of over 162, with the best score of 49.

In 35 international matches this year, Markram scored 1,553 runs at an average of 50.09, with four centuries and six fifties in 37 innings. His IPL with Sunrisers Hyderabad as captain and a batter was underwhelming though.

Usman Khawaja (Australia)

A Test specialist, Usman Khawaja played a crucial role in Australia’s success in the World Test Championship and The Ashes. In 13 Tests this year, he scored 1,210 runs at an average of 52.60, with three centuries and six fifties. His best score was 195*.

Daryl Mitchell (New Zealand)

This late-blooming all-rounder in his 30s bloomed like no one else this year. In the absence of skipper Kane Williamson, he served as Kiwis’ batting pillar this year. In seven Tests, he scored 469 runs at an average of 42.63, with a century and four fifties in 13 innings. His best score was 102. In 26 ODIs, he scored 1,204 runs at an average of 52.34, with five centuries and three fifties in 25 innings. His best score was 134. In 18 T20Is, he scored 316 runs at an average of 21.06, with two half-centuries.

Overall he ended as the year’s third most successful batter with 1,989 runs in 51 matches and 55 innings at an average of 40.59, with six centuries and nine fifties, with the best score of 134.

Daryl was New Zealand’s second-most successful batter in WC 2023, scoring 552 runs in 10 matches with two centuries and two fifties at an average of 69.00. He also took 11 wickets across formats all year.

Mitchell Marsh (Australia)

The Australian all-rounder was on a rampage this year, going after the bowlers from ball one. He played a vital role in Australia’s success in the Ashes and ICC Cricket World Cup.

Across five Tests this year, Marsh has scored 540 runs at an average of 67.50 and a strike rate of over 73, with a century and four fifties in ten innings. His best score was 118. In 20 ODIs this year, Marsh has scored 858 runs at an average of 47.66, with two centuries and five fifties. His best score is 177*. In three T20Is, Marsh scored 186 runs at an average of 186.00, with two fifties and best score of 92*.

In 28 international matches this year, he scored 1,584 runs at an average of 58.66, with three centuries and 11 fifties in 33 innings. His best score was 177*. He also took six wickets this year across formats.

Ravindra Jadeja (India)

This great Indian all-rounder ended the year with 66 international wickets this year in 35 matches, the most by any bowler this year. 33 of these came in Tests, 31 in ODIs and two in T20Is.

Across all formats this year, he scored 613 runs at an average of 30.65, with two fifties, finding the majority of his success in Tests, with 281 runs in seven Tests. His best score is 70.

Jadeja also starred in IPL 2023, scoring the winning runs to guide Chennai Super Kings (CSK) to the fifth title. He ended the tournament with 190 valuable runs in 12 innings and 20 wickets.

Kuldeep Yadav (India)

This spinner was unplayable this year, ending the year strong with 63 scalps in 39 matches. He took 49 of these in ODIs and the rest 14 in T20Is, with the best bowling figures of 5/17.

Mitchell Starc (Australia)

The ‘World Cup Year Starc’ did not turn up as scary as expected, but he still had a fine year with the ball, finding success in the WTC final (four wickets), The Ashes (top wicket-taker with 23) and Cricket World Cup (16 wickets). He ended the year with 63 wickets in 23 matches, with the best figures of 5/33. He took 38 wickets in Tests and 25 in ODIs.

Starc saved his absolute best for the WTC final, the Ashes and the knockout games of the World Cup, enhancing his reputation as an Australian great.

Gerald Coetzee (South Africa)

Coetzee made his debut across all formats this year and what a success story he has been for Proteas, taking 47 wickets across 21 matches with the best figures of 4/44. Coetzee took 10 wickets in Tests, 31 in ODIs and six in T20Is.

Coetzee had a memorable Cricket World Cup debut, guiding Proteas to the semis with a 20-wicket campaign, the most by a Proteas bowler in a single tournament edition.

Mohammed Shami (India)

Though the veteran pacer had to spend some time on the sidelines this year due to the emergence of young blood, Shami spit venom with the ball in his hand. He ended with 56 wickets in 23 international matches, with the best figures of 7/57. Only 13 of these wickets came in Test cricket.

Shami had a memorable World Cup 2023, coming to the field in the middle of it and stealing the show with a 24-wicket campaign, topping the wicket-taking charts within just seven matches. His best figures were 7/57.

He also took the ‘Purple Cap’ for most wickets in IPL 2023, with 28 wickets in 17 matches.

Pat Cummins (Australia)

The Aussie skipper destroyed all his critics this year and showcased displays of calm nerves and pure class this year as a player and a leader. He completed the three-peat for Australia with the WTC title, the Ashes and the ICC Cricket World Cup title and shined in each of these key events.

Cummins ended this year with 59 wickets in 24 matches, with the best bowling figures of 6/91. 42 of these wickets came in Tests, while 17 came in ODIs.

Cummins also delivered some valuable performances with the bat during the Ashes and World Cup, scoring 422 runs in 28 innings this year at an average of 21.10. His 44* against England in an instant classic first Ashes Test and 12* in a double century stand with Glenn Maxwell against Afghanistan in the Cricket World Cup come to mind in an instant.

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