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ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2019 Captain of the year nominees: big heads

Our nominees in the captain-of-the-year category transformed their teams' fortunes last year

Kane Williamson's grace in defeat has been recognised, England v New Zealand, World Cup final, Lord's, July 14, 2019

Kane Williamson: inspirational in victory and defeat  •  Getty Images

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2019: Our nominees for captain of the year transformed their teams' fortunes last year
Virat Kohli
Tests: P8 W7 D1
ODIs: P26 W18 L7 NR1
T20Is: P10 W6 L4

Kohli has been the only captain to have been nominated in this award category in all five years of its existence. In 2019, a year when India underlined their dominance across formats, he chalked up an overall win-loss ratio of 2.8. Kohli captained in 44 games - by far the highest by any one captain in the year in this age of split captaincy. His year began with the euphoria of India's first Test series win in Australia, and was followed by ODI series wins there and in New Zealand. The disappointment of being knocked out in the semi-final of the World Cup was somewhat allayed by crushing clean sweeps of West Indies, South Africa and Bangladesh, which put India firmly on top of the World Test Championship table, with 360 points.
Kane Williamson
Tests: P8 W4 L3 D1
ODIs: P20 W12 L7 T1
T20Is: P3 W2 L1

New Zealand under Williamson lost just two series out of ten all of last year - quite the achievement when you consider that includes the World Cup, which they got to the final of, only to have their hands prised off the trophy on a technicality. Williamson and his team were widely applauded for the grace with which they accepted that harsh outcome. In Tests, they wrested a draw in Sri Lanka, famously unkind to touring teams, and at home against England, they won 1-0. Williamson himself led from the front with the bat, averaging north of 50 in Tests and one-dayers, and scoring 578 runs in the World Cup.
Eoin Morgan
ODIs: P21 W13 L5 T1 NR2
T20Is: P9 W6 L2 T1

England's first World Cup title in 12 editions of the tournament came in 2019 under Morgan, who was instrumental in installing a new free-scoring approach in the wake of the side's disastrous showing in the previous World Cup. In eight of the nine ODIs where they batted first last year, they went past 300, including one in which they racked up 418. In T20Is they were scarcely less impressive, with just two losses in nine games. For Morgan, the numbers suggest the crown sits easy - he averaged close to 53 in ODIs last year, about 13 runs better than when he isn't in charge.
Aaron Finch
ODIs: P23 W16 L7
T20Is: P8 W7 NR1

Finch, in his first stint of decent length as Australia's short-formats captain, delivered an impressive win-loss ratio of 2.28 in ODIs in a World Cup year. And the side didn't lose a T20I in eight under him either. The high points were the ODI and T20I series wins in India ahead of the World Cup - though Finch didn't exactly shine with the bat up until the subsequent series against Pakistan in the UAE. That, he later revealed, caused him anxiety about whether he would be dropped for the World Cup, let alone lead Australia in the tournament. In the event, he did captain at the tournament, and excelled with the bat, averaging 50, with two hundreds and three fifties. Under him, Australia also won all three T20I series they played.
Tim Paine
Tests: P12 W8 L2 D2

Paine was thrust into the role of Australia Test captain in a hurry in the wake of the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal in 2018, and made a substantial contribution to pulling the team out from under the burden of the shame heaped on them and overhauling the culture of the side. In 2019, after the World Cup, he was back in charge for the Ashes, where he led Australia to a draw, which was good enough for them to keep the silverware as current holders. Later in the year came the whitewash of Pakistan and New Zealand at home. That gave Paine a win-loss ratio of 4, bettered in 2019 by only Kohli.
Meg Lanning
Tests: P1 D1
ODIs: P11 W11
T20Is: P9 W8 L1

In 2018, Australia were fearsome under Lanning. Ditto last year, when they dropped just one T20I in 21 matches. They drew the Ashes Test, ensuring they held on to the title, and beat New Zealand, England, West Indies and Sri Lanka in bilateral series. Lanning herself was formidable as a batter, racking up 133 not out off 63 balls in the Chelmsford T20I, and averaging 132.50 in her seven innings in T20Is in the year.
Mithali Raj
ODIs: P12 W9 L3

With a win-loss ratio of 3, Raj was behind only Lanning as the most successful captain in women's ODIs in 2019. It made for a refreshing change from the previous year, when Raj was embroiled in controversy after she accused the Indian team management of bias in not including her in the squad for the T20 World Cup. The high point was the series win over New Zealand - India's first in a full bilateral series there - in which Raj made 63 in the second match in a major partnership with Smriti Mandhana.
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