Williamson, Broad, Southee, de Villiers win ESPNcricinfo Awards
Kane Williamson's career highest unbeaten 242 in Wellington against Sri Lanka has been voted the top Test batting performance of 2015 at the Maruti Suzuki ESPNcricinfo Awards, announced today. The Test bowling award went to England's Stuart Broad, whose 8 for 15 at Trent Bridge skittled Australia out for 60, paving the way for England to regain the Ashes.
New Zealand players won three awards this year. Tim Southee took the ODI bowling award for his 7 for 33, which bundled England out for 123 in under 34 overs the World Cup; and Brendon McCullum won the Captain of the Year title.
The best ODI batting performance award went to AB de Villiers, whose 149 off 44 balls against West Indies at the Wanderers contained the fastest ODI hundred (off 31 balls) and fastest fifty (16 balls). He hit 16 sixes (equalling the world record) and nine fours in an innings punctuated with audacious scoops, sweeps and reverse sweeps. He beat a World Cup-heavy shortlist that included another of his own innings - the unbeaten 162, also against West Indies, in Sydney.
The awards, now in their ninth year, honour the best batting and bowling performances across the international formats of the game in the preceding calendar year. This year's awards were voted on by a jury of former players - among them, Ian Chappell, Mahela Jayawardene, Jeff Dujon, Courtney Walsh, John Wright, Mark Butcher, Mark Nicholas - and ESPNcricinfo's senior writers and editors.
The award for the best T20 batting performance went to India's Rohit Sharma, for his maiden T20I century, against South Africa in Dharamsala. He beat two innings by Chris Gayle to the prize. It was the only performance among this year's award winners that came in a losing cause. The T20 bowling award went to South Africa allrounder David Wiese, who took 5 for 23 against West Indies in Durban.
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 this year, but the awards are a tribute to all those who were nominated."
Williamson's second-innings knock, with New Zealand up against a first-innings deficit of 135, featured an unbroken record sixth-wicket stand of 365 with BJ Watling that set up a big victory. It was the start of a dream year for Williamson, who scored 1172 Test runs in 16 innings, at an average of 90.15. Incidentally, the 2014 Test batting award also went to a New Zealander, McCullum, who scored 302 at the same venue, against India.
Broad's spell at Trent Bridge sent Australia packing in 18.3 overs in the opening session. It was his career-best performance, and he passed 300 Test wickets in the process. England's innings win gave them an unassailable 3-1 series lead in the Ashes.