Joe Root has been named the world's best cricketer by Wisden, the game’s chubby yellow bible.
Just days after standing down as England Test captain, Root has claimed the 2021 title in the men’s game from the player who is expected to follow him at the helm, 2019 and 2020 winner Ben Stokes.
The 31-year-old is featured on the front cover in familiar pose, playing a classical cover drive, adding yet more runs to his eventual incredible tally of 1,708 for the year. His difficulties as captain stood in complete contrast to his remarkable feats as a batsman as he collected six Test hundreds and scored more than three times as many runs as his nearest teammate.
Only Sir Don Bradman and Sir Garry Sobers scored a greater percentage of their team’s runs across a calendar year than Root’s 26.21 for 2021. South African batter Lizelle Lee takes the crown as the leading woman cricketer in the world for her stunning ODI form while Pakistan batter Mohammed Rizwan earns the title as the best T20 cricketer in the world right now.
The oldest individual award in the game though is to be named as one of Wisden’s five cricketers of the year which can only happen once and is based on the previous summer. England bowler Ollie Robinson is named alongside India’s Jasprit Bumrah and Rohit Sharma, New Zealand’s Devon Conway and South Africa’s Dane van Niekerk who lit up the women’s Hundred.
Much like many of its readers, the 159th edition of the Wisden Almanack has filled out again following a Covid impacted slimming down last year and attempts to resume its place, if not as the game’s moral arbiter, then as its conscience.
And ECB chief executive Tom Harrison is caught squarely in the crosshairs for trousering his share of a £2.1 million bonus for forcing through The Hundred despite overseeing 62 job losses at his organisation.
With a pay packet already north of half a million pounds each year, Harrison’s insistence on following the examples of city businessmen for doing his well paid job in charge of a sporting governing body is a bad look and Wisden suggests alternative uses for it.
There is extensive attention paid to the spectre of racism and discrimination that hangs like a pall over the game, with the ECB again taken to task, while Azeem Rafiq pens a piece in his own words before the crisis at Yorkshire is given a full and forensic airing as a matter of record.
The 159th edition of the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack is published by Bloomsbury
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