Kane Williamson, Stuart Broad, Rohit Sharma, AB de Villiers, Tim Southee and David Wiese are the winners of the Maruti Suzuki ESPNcricinfo Awards for the best batting and bowling performances in the three international cricket formats in 2015.
Brendon McCullum was voted captain of the year and Mustafizur Rahman of Bangladesh the best debutant. Winners for each category were picked by an expert jury from shortlists compiled by ESPNcricinfo staff. The jury consisted of cricketers Ian Chappell, Mahela Jayawardene, Ajit Agarkar, Jeffrey Dujon, Russel Arnold, Courtney Walsh, Iain O’Brien, Mark Butcher, Bazid Khan, Chris Rogers, Paul Harris, John Wright, Sanjay Manjrekar, Aakash Chopra, Mark Nicholas, Ramiz Raja, Ashley Giles and Mickey Arthur.
Also part of the jury were ESPNcricinfo’s senior writers and editors, Sambit Bal, Sidharth Monga, Brydon Coverdale, Mohammad Isam, Andrew Miller, Osman Samiuddin, Daniel Brettig, Jarrod Kimber, Firdose Moonda, Gaurav Kalra, Andrew Fernando and George Dobell.
Williamson’s unbeaten 242 against Sri Lanka, which won the Test batting award, came when his side was in trouble at 159 for 5 in the second innings, in Wellington. He batted more than ten hours for the score, during which he also became the fastest New Zealand player to score 3000 Test runs.
Wellington was also the venue for Tim Southee’s 7 for 33, winner of the ODI bowling award, a masterful display of swing bowling that wrecked England in the World Cup match.
The third New Zealander to win an award was Brendon McCullum, who was voted Captain of the Year. McCullum, who retired from international cricket recently, has won acclaim for his leadership of New Zealand in the World Cup and for encouraging them to play an exciting, attacking brand of cricket.
The Test bowling award went to Stuart Broad for a freakishly effective performance in the Ashes. Broad took seven wickets in seven overs and finished with 8 for 15 shortly after, dismissing Australia for 60 in an hour and a half, in a game England went on to win handsomely inside three days.
AB de Villiers picked up the ODI batting award for an innings that was jaw-dropping even by his standards: a six-splattered 149 against West Indies, in the course of which he broke the world record for the fastest ODI hundred, taking only 31 balls to get to the mark.
The T20I batting performance was rather more sedate by comparison. Rohit Sharma’s 106 against South Africa in Dharamsala came in a loss for his team. It edged two innings by Chris Gayle in South Africa to take the award. David Wiese’s 5 for 23 against West Indies, the best T20I bowling figures in 2015, took the T20I bowling prize.
Speaking about the awards, Sambit Bal, editor-in-chief of ESPNcricinfo and ESPN South Asia, said, “Cricket is a team game, and wins and losses are the things that matter the most, but the fondest memories come from the great innings or the brilliant spells that shape these outcomes. There could have been only six winners for our performance awards this year, but the ESPNcricinfo awards are a tribute all those who were nominated. We are delighted to add a new category this year. The leadership award is a recognition of the unique role the captain plays in cricket, and it was perhaps inevitable that Brendon McCullum should win the inaugural one. Not only did he transform the way New Zealand played their cricket, but he also — and this was a more profound achievement — got his nation to rally behind the sport.”
Commenting on their focus towards sports and youth, Sanjeev Handa, Vice President, Marketing, Maruti Suzuki said, “Maruti Suzuki is committed to partner and leverage this sports platform promising democratic participation from youth and supported by an independent, credible jury. ESPNcricinfo Awards in its ninth year has the USP of honouring the most impactful performance of the year that shall have millions of engaging conversations online with the youth following cricket and Maruti Suzuki’s partnership shall resonate its commitment towards youth and sports.”
Gaurav Pathak, COO and Head of Business Transformation, Razorfish India, added “For a brand like Maruti Suzuki, cricket offers a perfect blend of reach and audience engagement. Collaboration like ESPNcricinfo Awards at the time of ICC T20 World Cup 2016, which is one of the biggest cricketing spectacles, would certainly amplify brand’s connect and engagement with the youth.”