Teams of the year January 1, 2016

Made in the antipodes

Australians and New Zealanders throng the Test and ODI XIs of the year, as picked by ESPNcricinfo's staff

R Ashwin: 62 wickets for the year © BCCI


David Warner
1317 runs at 54.87

See off the new ball? Not in David Warner's book. The opener ended the year with a strike rate of 81.91, regularly belting it about in the first session and setting Australia on the path to big scores. Warner scored 592 of his annual tally in the three Tests against New Zealand at home, hitting 253 in Perth (off 286 balls) and 163 at the Gabba (224 balls). He didn't get any centuries on tour, though, but managed five fifties in an Ashes series in which most of his colleagues struggled.

Alastair Cook
1364 runs at 54.56

Regaining the Ashes was the captaincy highlight of the year for Cook, and he wasn't in bad form with the bat either, clocking nearly 14 hours at the crease for 263 in Abu Dhabi - the longest innings by an England batsman. His away average of 65 was better than his home figure of 49. His most significant batting performance in England in 2015 was his second-innings 162 at Lord's, which helped his side overcome a deficit of 134 to pave the way for a remarkable victory on the final day.

Joe Root
1385 runs at 60.21

One of England's most consistent batsmen, home and away. All his three centuries came in wins, starting with his unbeaten 182 against West Indies in Grenada, followed by 134 and 130 in the Ashes in Cardiff and at Trent Bridge. The Cardiff innings set the tone for England at the start of the series, helping them recover from a shaky start. Root didn't make any centuries in the UAE but came close on three occasions.

Kane Williamson
1172 runs at 90.15

The New Zealand batsman enhanced his reputation as one of the finest young Test players around, with five centuries in 2015, three of those away from home. His two home hundreds were no less remarkable. Both were against Sri Lanka in pressure scenarios: his unbeaten 242 in the second innings in Wellington came after New Zealand were up against a deficit of over 100, and it set up a remarkable win; his unbeaten 108 steered his side in a tense chase in Hamilton in December. His 140 at the Gabba stood out in an innings in which no other batsman passed 50, and he followed it up with 166 in the next Test, in Perth.

Steven Smith
1474 runs at 73.70

The leading Test scorer in 2015. His glorious run began during the home Tests against India late in 2014, and it extended to the New Year Test in Sydney, where he scored 117. The runs came away from home as well. In the West Indies, he missed a double-hundred by a run in Kingston, but he made up at Lord's, scoring 215. In an otherwise ordinary Ashes for Australia's batsmen, Smith made his mark with two centuries, including a match-winning 143 at The Oval. He ended the year with two centuries at home, against New Zealand and West Indies.

Angelo Mathews
845 runs at 42.25

A dependable batsman down the order. The Sri Lankan captain didn't always have the luxury of a solid platform when he walked in. He scored 122 in the second innings in Pallekele against Pakistan after a shaky start by the top order, though it came in a losing cause. In the home Tests against India, with a top order weakened by the departure of Kumar Sangakkara, he scored a century as Sri Lanka went down fighting in their chase of 386 at the SSC. As a third seamer, Mathews bowled tight spells, with an overall economy rate of 2.12.

Dinesh Chandimal
901 runs at 47.42; 24 catches and four stumpings

The Sri Lankan wicketkeeper-batsman made rapid batting strides in 2015. His fifty in Wellington came in a century stand with Kumar Sangakkara after a top-order collapse. Chandimal played the innings of his life in the second innings in Galle against India, scoring an unbeaten 162 after walking in at 95 for 5 with Sri Lanka still 97 away from making India bat again. That innings - aided by questionable umpiring along the way - set up an unbelievable win for Sri Lanka. Chandimal's affair with Galle continued with 151 against West Indies. He was rewarded with a promotion to No. 4, and rounded off the year with two fifties in Dunedin.

R Ashwin
62 wickets at 17.20

The leading wicket-taker in 2015. The Indian offspinner took seven five-fors and two ten-wicket hauls, including a best of 12 for 98 against South Africa in Nagpur. Ashwin's spells and variations jolted the confidence of the South Africans - traditionally good tourists and good players of spin - who fell to their first away series defeat in nine years. Ashwin was the Man of the Series, finishing with 31 wickets. He took that honour in Sri Lanka as well, with 21 wickets in three Tests.

Stuart Broad
56 wickets at 23.82

The second highest wicket-taker in 2015. Broad's 8 for 15 at Trent Bridge, which decimated Australia to 60 all out in the opening session, was arguably the spell of the year. The Ashes were all but England's after 18.3 overs of swing and seam and inept batting in which Australia were all out for 60. Broad's 4 for 25 at Kingsmead shook South Africa's top order in the first innings, setting up England's dominance in the opening Test of the series.

Josh Hazlewood
51 wickets at 23.35

It was a close contest with fellow Australian Mitchell Starc, but Hazlewood edged his left-arm team-mate out. He was the leading wicket-taker in the West Indies, with 12, and impressed in the Ashes as well, with 16 wickets in four Tests. He was a handful with the pink ball in Adelaide, taking 6 for 70 in the second innings. Hazlewood's strengths are line and length, swing, and a deceptive bouncer.

Yasir Shah
49 wickets at 23

The Pakistan legspinner needed only seven matches for his rich haul in 2015. With the remodelled Saeed Ajmal out of contention, Yasir proved a more than able spin replacement for Pakistan. His 7 for 76 set up Pakistan's win in Galle and he carried that form into the home Tests against England, taking 15 wickets. He toiled for nearly 42 overs to help his side snatch a last-minute win in the Dubai Test.

Kane Williamson could have had eight hundreds for the year had he converted his 90s © PA Photos


Brendon McCullum
764 runs at 33.21

The average didn't stand out, but a strike rate of 152 certainly did for the New Zealand captain. Add his inspiring leadership that took his team to its first World Cup final and he's a no-brainer pick at the top of the order. McCullum's blazing starts headlined New Zealand's performance in the tournament, as they had done in the home bilateral ODIs against Sri Lanka and Pakistan before it. Save for three games from the start of the year till the World Cup final, he scored at more than a run a ball. His 77 off 25 balls and 50 off 24 against England and Australia respectively in back-to-back World Cup games were his most memorable innings. His fearless approach from ball one and electric fielding made him one of the most exciting one-day cricketers to watch in 2015.

Martin Guptill
1489 runs at 55.14

The year's leading run scorer. The New Zealand opener's penultimate innings was brutal - an unbeaten 93 off 30 balls against Sri Lanka in Christchurch, an innings that featured nine fours and eight sixes. He played second fiddle to McCullum through most of the World Cup, but stepped up on two occasions when his captain failed, scoring 105 against Bangladesh and an unbeaten 237 against West Indies - breaking the world record for the highest World Cup score in that latter match. His two other hundreds, against South Africa and Zimbabwe, also came in winning causes.

Kane Williamson
1376 runs at 57.33

It was a stellar year for the New Zealand batsman in all formats. He scored three ODI hundreds, though it could have been eight if he had converted his 90s. Williamson was at his best either side of the World Cup - a relatively quiet one for him, save for his iceman-like unbeaten 45, which he signed off with a straight six to help his side home in a nail-biter against Australia.

Kumar Sangakkara
862 runs at 86.20; 13 catches and six stumpings

The Sri Lankan wicketkeeper-batsman ended his ODI career on a high with four consecutive hundreds in the World Cup. His unbeaten 117 against England helped Sri Lanka wipe off a target of 310 with ease, and in the following game, his 104 gave his side an outside chance of chasing 377 against Australia.

AB de Villiers
1193 runs at 79.53

In one innings last January, de Villiers snatched two world records - for the fastest hundred (off 31 balls) and fastest fifty (16 balls). De Villiers tormented West Indies at the Wanderers, blazing 149 off 44 balls at an eye-popping strike rate of 338.63 - after having walked in in the 39th over. It wasn't the last the poor West Indian bowlers had seen of de Villiers' power and audacity - he repeated the dose the following month in the World Cup, smashing 162 off 66 balls at the SCG on his way to the fastest 150 ever (64 balls). He rounded the year off with three centuries in the bilateral ODIs in India, the last of which was his 61-ball 119 scored in extreme humidity in Mumbai.

Shakib Al Hasan
24 wickets at 27.66, 421 runs at 42.10

Shakib took 4 for 55 in a closely fought match against New Zealand in the World Cup, and ended the year with 5 for 16 against Zimbabwe at home. He also scored back-to-back match-winning fifties against India in Mirpur, in a series his side won.

Glenn Maxwell*
644 runs at 46

Maxwell blazed the fastest hundred by an Australian, off 51 balls, in their World Cup group match against Sri Lanka at the SCG. It was also the second-fastest in World Cups after Ireland's Kevin O'Brien (50 balls) against England. Maxwell's strike rate of 135.86 stood out, nearly matching AB de Villiers' (137.91) but still behind McCullum's (152). The World Cup saw the best of Maxwell as a finisher - he smashed 66 off 40 balls against England, and ransacked 88 off 39 balls against Afghanistan.

Mitchell Starc
41 wickets at 16.26

The Australian fast bowler started the year with 10 wickets in his first two games, including a six-for against India. His best performance in the World Cup was his 6 for 28 against New Zealand at Eden Park, triggering a collapse just when New Zealand were cruising towards a small target. But his most significant blow was claiming big fish Brendon McCullum for a duck in the first over of the World Cup final. It was a blow New Zealand never recovered from. Starc took the Man-of-the-Tournament prize with 22 wickets.

Mustafizur Rahman
26 wickets at 12.34

Bangladesh's find of the year. In just nine games, the 20-year-old left-arm seamer picked up 26 wickets; that included five-wicket hauls in his first two ODIs - only the second bowler to do so after Zimbabwe's Brian Vitori. That both came in winning causes, against India, made it sweeter. He went on to trouble the South Africans later that season. Some of the best batsmen in the world struggled against Mustafizur's offcutters and slower deliveries.

Imran Tahir
37 wickets at 25.18

Tahir has been effective with the white ball over the last few years, and so he was in 2015 too. His 4 for 28 at East London kept West Indies to 122, and at the SCG, his 4 for 26 hastened Sri Lanka's collapse to 133 in a one-sided quarter-final. Tahir picked up a wicket in all but four of his 22 games this year.

Trent Boult
36 wickets at 19.77

Boult rounds out an all left-arm-seam cast. The New Zealander hit his peak at the World Cup, finishing joint-highest wicket-taker with Starc, on 22. His hostile 5 for 27 off 10 overs at Eden Park sent Australia crashing to 151 after a sound start. His 4 for 55 off 10 at Edgbaston against England stood out in a game where the five remaining bowlers conceded a minimum of seven an over.

* - 1030GMT, January 1, 2016 - the ODI team originally had only ten players. The 11th, Glenn Maxwell, was added later

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo