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The Light Roller

V Kohlz, B Mac, Boom and Jay Lang win the only cricket trophies of 2022 that matter

We reveal the winners of the much coveted and fiercely contested Lollers for the year

Virat Kohli realised he wasn't hitting the ball well and decided to make amends at practice  •  Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images

Virat Kohli realised he wasn't hitting the ball well and decided to make amends at practice  •  Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images

While it's been another tough year with much hardship to endure - war in Ukraine, the ongoing climate emergency, still no IPL title for RCB - thankfully cricket's shining lights have cut through the gloom with their usual grace and style. To recognise their efforts, we are once again staging the Light Roller Awards, with a little help from our friends over at the Briefing (emphasis on the "little"). Anyway, let's get straight to handing out this year's Lollers - described by Chris Rock as "literally like getting slapped in the face!"
St Brendon Award for Services to the Universe
Brendon McCullum
In the beginning was the word, and the word was Bazball. Like a cross between Buddha, Rambo and Bob Geldof, McCullum has set about saving the planet in the only way he knows how. In his case that means good vibes and tonking it - run towards the danger, be your authentic self. Playing for a draw? What would even be the point? Life is impermanent. Sixes over cow corner are forever.
Ben Stokes' England team have been the main beneficiaries, but really, isn't humanity the winner? Think that sounds a bit preachy? Nah, we don't do that here man. We're just about making sure everyone's having a good time. What's going on with you, dude? No, really, I want to know. You just want to go out and murder the bowling? Yeah, nah, I'm feeling that. You do you, bro.
Runner up: Whichever deity/deities you believe in
Messiest Break-up
Justin Langer and Australia Men
He was the old-school tough guy who wasn't afraid to show his spiritual side. They were the eager young bucks willing to do what it takes to win (so long as it doesn't involve sandpaper and/or fossil fuels). For a while it was Fifty Shades of (Baggy) Green as Australia romped to victory at the 2021 T20 World Cup, then indulged in some BDSM during another Ashes spanking. But it wasn't all whips and chains - or rather it was, and that's why JL eventually got chucked. Now the Australia men's team have a new guy in their life, and Langer can be heard loudly declaring he's cool with it.
Wow, guys, seriously, get over it. Justin was their coach and they ate and drank and strategised together, and it was all so fun, and now they have a new coach and he's fine with it and there's nothing more to say, really, because these things happen and we can all be adults, even if the memories come flooding back sometimes and you put on sad music and curl up and weep in the corner of the commentary box where you're working now, and they just look at you and judge but no one knows what you've been through.
Runner-up: Virat Kohli and the India captaincy
Groundsman of the Year
Ramiz Raja
International cricket has been steadily returning to Pakistan, but there's one thing holding the operation back. Yes, that's right: pitches. (What did you think we were going to say?) Luckily Ramiz is on the case. Drop-in pitches could be a "quick, short-term solution" - although, coming from Australia, they were more like ship-in-at-great-expense pitches.
Scratch that. After the Rawalpindi Test in March proved duller than a month's worth of ICC board meetings, Ramiz went back to the drawing board: "It takes five-six months to prepare pitches… during the off season, you will see." Nine months later, Pindi produced another dud. "This will improve by next season. Unfortunately we'll see the same kinds of pitches for the New Zealand series," Ramiz lamented. Let's hope no one points out that they were fine before he turned up!
SLC award for SLC-ing
They produced popular LPL tournaments during the pandemic, which fans really got behind. This year, when spectators are allowed at stadiums, the LPL has been so low-key and poorly marketed and managed than previous seasons, no one is at the ground.
Virat Kohli Award for Finally Scoring an International Century
Virat Kohli
Is this a token prize, conceived simply to improve this column's chances of being read via Search Engine Optimisation? Would we stoop so low? No, we absolutely wouldn't. ESPNcricinfo is a bastion of journalistic integrity. We really loved Kohli's century for its own merits regardless of the clicks.
T20 Franchise League Newcomer Award
All of them
A crowded category, as everywhere from the USA to the Maldives attempts to blag some IPL sugar-daddy attention plus a fat broadcast deal for their sponsored maximums. Popping up like rogue cryptocurrencies, and with similar levels of financial due diligence, franchise leagues will soon have wallpapered over the schedule year-round. But why stop there? We look forward to the day when every major urban metropolis on earth has its own MI/Royals/Super Kings feeder team, and Danny Morrison's excited shrieks play on an endless loop. With a bit of luck, journalists will have been replaced by AI and the Light Roller will be on the (toxic waste-despoiled) beach!
Most Disappointing Pakistan-ing of the Year
Pakistan men's team
They sneaked into the knockouts of the T20 World Cup through the backest of doors. So far, one tick on the Pakistan-ing.
They stormed through the semi-final against New Zealand as if they had been ordained by the fickle cricketing gods to win the trophy. Another tick.
And then, having set up this whole narrative as the crazy, mercurial, voodoo-magic force of undeniable nature, they crash and burn against England in the final. Against England. In a final.
You've lost your edge, Pakistan. We don't want to see you until you're the Orientalist trope we all knew and loved, again.
Batting Performance of the Year
Jasprit Bumrah
Sure, Jonny Bairstow was tonking it around like an enraged honey badger, Marnus Labuschagne continued to gobble runs faster than cheese toasties, and Virat Kohli occasionally did a thing (see above). But the accolade for pure long-handled carnage can only go to one man, who took a record previously held by Brian Lara, when he strode out at No. 10 against England at Edgbaston and proceeded to Happy Gilmore 35 runs off a single over from Stuart Broad. Okay, so there were five wides, a no-ball and the sight of Bumrah falling over while hitting a four. But style matters less here than the pure Fast Bowler Batting Banter lulzzzz.
Runners-up: Those Bazball guys
Best Rivalry
Zimbabwe vs Pak Bean
Hell hath no fury like a landlocked southern African country made to suffer the indignity of being entertained (some years ago) by a counterfeit Mr Bean. Imagine if Bangladesh sent their version of Crocodile Dundee to the Netherlands, or the Australian Ali G embarked on an ill-fated tour of Afghanistan. But weirder than that. Hollywood is already believed to be sniffing around a big-budget dramatisation - just don't think about suggesting Rowan Atkinson for the title role.
Runners-up: The Ashes, India vs Pakistan

Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. Andrew Fidel Fernando is the site's Sri Lanka correspondent