Virat Kohli, Joe Root, Steve Smith - cricket's winners and losers in 2018

By Justin GouldingBBC Sport
India captain Virat Kohli celebrates a Test century against England
Virat Kohli made five centuries in Tests and six in one-day internationals in 2018

It's been eventful.

The year began with an Ashes drubbing for England, featured a fairytale summer farewell and ended with Virat Kohli arguing with someone. Again.

Oh, and some Australians got banned for cheating along the way.

BBC Sport hands out the prizes after a tumultuous year in the cricket world.

Player of the year

Surely you don't need to ask?

Already India captain, totem and icon, Virat Kohli proved this year he is unquestionably the best player in the world.

If his returns in Test cricket were impressive - 1,322 at an average of 55 - his one-day international haul of 1,202 at 134 bordered on ludicrous.

He arrived in England this summer with question marks over his claims to greatness. He responded by averaging 59 in a series when most batsmen survived as long as an ice cube on a warm day.

Despite defeat in England, Kohli led India to a first Test win in Australia in 10 years - and they will begin 2019 as they did 2018, as officially the best side in the world.

If New Zealand had played more than six Tests, Kane Williamson - with an average of 67 - might have run Kohli close, while Alyssa Healy won a staggering four player-of-the-match awards in six games as Australia women romped to the Women's World Twenty20 title.

Best Hollywood ending

Alastair Cook and James Anderson can accept this award on behalf of their scriptwriter, who delivered an end to the summer so joyful that it made the Shawshank Redemption finale look positively miserable.

From the moment Cook, the holder of almost every England Test batting record there is, announced the final Test against India would be his last, you sensed it might be emotional.

Walking out to bat, taking guard, maybe even adjusting his box - Cook was given countless standing ovations before he sent the Oval crowd into a frenzy with a fairytale farewell century in his final innings.

Anderson supplied the encore the following day with his 564th Test wicket, taking him past Australia great Glenn McGrath as the most successful pace bowler of all time and wrapping up a 4-1 series win.

Cook called Anderson the greatest player of all time. Anderson said the same about Cook. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.

Worst attempt to hide sandpaper down your pants

Cameron Bancroft, take a bow. The Australia batsman wins this from a field of one, although he might ask Steve Smith and David Warner to accompany him to the awards ceremony.

Bancroft was caught during the Cape Town Test against South Africa trying to scuff up the ball using sandpaper - which he then tried to hide down his trousers. All in full view of the television cameras.

Bancroft was banned for nine months, while captain Smith and vice-captain Warner - both of whom admitted knowing about the plan - got a year apiece.

Sympathy was in short supply. The Australian and British prime ministers put the boot in, and Smith and Warner blubbed like three-year-olds in news conferences broadcast around the world.

Coach Darren Lehmann said he didn't know about the sandpaper plan and wouldn't resign. Then he did. Needless to say, there were tears there too.

Smith breaks down in news conference

Biggest shellacking

Australia fans, look away again.

A couple of hefty defeats on that ill-fated tour of South Africa were contenders for this prize - Australia lost the third Test by 322 runs and the fourth by 492 - and they were crushed by 373 runs by Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.

But the biggest thumping of the year was dished out by England, who won the third one-day international against Australia by 242 runs.

The hosts smashed the ODI record in making a scarcely believable 481-6 at Trent Bridge. Alex Hales battered 147 off 92 balls, Jonny Bairstow 139 off 92.

Australia were bowled out for 237, with 13 overs unused. There must have been a temptation for England to let them have another go.

It was Australia's heaviest one-day defeat in terms of runs. They lost the series 5-0. The flight home could not come soon enough.

Most realistic impersonation of England in the 1990s

Bangladesh gave it their best shot when they were bowled out for 43 by West Indies, while South Africa laid claim to the award in being skittled for 73 in 29 overs in Sri Lanka.

Pakistan losing their last seven wickets for 41 runs as they contrived to lose the first Test by four runs against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi was mightily impressive in its own way.

However, at a time when England seem intent on bringing the collapse back into fashion, it simply had to be Joe Root's side who collected this gong.

Playing their first Test since being thumped 4-0 in the Ashes, England folded like a cheap deckchair against New Zealand as they were bowled out for 58 in the face of some admittedly excellent swing bowling from Trent Boult and Tim Southee.

It was their sixth lowest total in Test history. The innings barely lasted 20 overs. Five batsmen made ducks. Only two reached double figures.

One saving grace for England was that, from 27-9, it could have been even worse.

Angriest player - to be presented by Merv Hughes

A tough one, mainly because there has been plenty of anger on and off the cricket pitch this year.

It began with CCTV footage of Australia's David Warner and South Africa's Quinton de Kock being separated by team-mates in the stairwell outside the changing rooms in Durban.

It continued with a pumped-up Kagiso Rabada shoulder-barging Steve Smith in the very next Test in Port Elizabeth.

Confrontation is like oxygen to the scowling India skipper Virat Kohli, although his 'mic drop' impersonation in an attempt to rile Joe Root at Edgbaston proved fruitless.

The award, though, goes to England's Jonny Bairstow, who 'celebrated' his century against Sri Lanka on his return to the side by ripping off his helmet, dropping his bat and letting out a roar that would not have been out of place in WWE.

That he was miffed at what he perceived as criticism from the media made it all the more remarkable. Anyone who can have an argument in an empty room deserves to win this prize.

England's Jonny Bairstow celebrates his century in the third Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo
Jonny Bairstow made 110 in the third Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo

Teenage superhero

Amelia Kerr smashed a women's record 232 not out off 145 balls for New Zealand in an ODI in Ireland. Then she took 5-17. Best of all, she was only 17 at the time.

'Thanks for turning up' - special attendance award

Australia seamer Andrew Tye, who conceded an eye-watering 0-100 from nine overs in England's ODI-record 481 at Trent Bridge.

Best catch

Glenn Maxwell's remarkable effort to remove Faf du Plessis, leaping to catch the ball at long-on, throwing it up in mid-air while over the boundary, jumping back inside the rope and completing the catch on the run. In an age when exceptional catches have almost become the norm, this was still something else.

Glenn Maxwell catches Faf du Plessis

Forgotten man

Remember Mason Crane? The leg-spinner took 1-193 in the final Ashes Test in Sydney, the most expensive figures by an England debutant. A back injury forced him home from the New Zealand tour that followed, then ended his county season in June.

Almost forgotten man

Joe Denly. Aged 32 and out of the England side for more than eight years, the Kent all-rounder was recalled for the winter tour to Sri Lanka. In his first game back, he only went and won the man-of-the-match award, with 20 off 17 balls and 4-19 opening the bowling with his leg-spin.

Pot-calling-the-kettle-black award

David Warner, one of cricket's most notorious sledgers, walked off the field mid-innings during a Sydney grade match after receiving a few choice words from Jason Hughes, the brother of the late Phillip Hughes. While what was said remains a mystery, the irony was not lost on anyone.

Biggest loss to international cricket

With all due respect to the record-breaking Alastair Cook and the cuddly old-timer Rangana Herath, AB de Villiers is a clear winner of this award. An entertainer, innovator and all-round good egg, he scored more than 20,000 runs for South Africa in all forms of the game. None of them could be described as ugly.

'To be honest, I'm tired'

Least celebrated nine-wicket haul

Can you name the bowler with the best Test figures of 2018? Didn't think so. It's time to doff your cap to South Africa left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj, who took 9-129 against Sri Lanka in July. South Africa still lost by 199 runs.

Highest proportion of family members retiring

Congratulations to the Joyces. Ed, the former England batsman, called time on a distinguished 21-year career after playing in Ireland's inaugural Test in May, and his sisters Isobel and Cecelia followed suit when Ireland bowed out of the Women's World Twenty20 in November.

Best advert for home-grown talent

Surrey may not be the most popular team in county cricket, but not even their harshest critics could fail to be impressed by the manner in which they dominated the County Championship this summer. They won a first title for 16 years with two games to spare - and did it thanks to 13 home-grown or academy players.

Most exciting rule change

An award you didn't expect to be reading about, but the England and Wales Cricket Board's decision to reduce the residency qualification rules for overseas-born players from seven years to three means we could all enjoy the supremely talented Jofra Archer - born and raised in the West Indies, now playing for Sussex - wearing an England shirt in the not-too-distant future.

Roll on 2019.


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