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ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2022 Captain of the year nominees: Stokes or Buttler - who was better?

Our nominees for this award won some major silverware in 2022

Nishi Narayanan
Both of England's men's captains are in the running for the award  •  Associated Press

Both of England's men's captains are in the running for the award  •  Associated Press

Ben Stokes
Tests: P10 W9 L1

Bazball might be the first word that pops into your head when you think of England's current Test side, but it might have remained just a buzzword without a leader who could embody a "free your mind and the rest will follow" philosophy. In Stokes' second Test in charge as full-time Test captain, England needed 299 from 72 overs at Trent Bridge to seal the series against New Zealand. They got there in 50, scoring at over six an over, Stokes ably supporting a rampaging Jonny Bairstow with a 70-ball 75. If that made everyone's jaw drop, what about when England scored 500 on day one of their series in Pakistan? Or when they looked to knock off a target of 172 on the third evening in Karachi because waiting to wrap it up on day four is for normies? "The skipper never lets the game drift. He's always pulling a string somewhere and the guys follow him," said Brendon McCullum, England's coach and Stokes' other half in masterminding the transformation, after they sealed a 3-0 win in Karachi. Looking back at 2022, it will be hard to remember that England's year started with a 0-4 Ashes defeat and a series loss in West Indies, because that's BS: Before Stokes.
Meg Lanning
Tests: P1 D1
ODIs: P12 W12
T20Is: P11 W8 NR3

Australia Women have been so dominant over the last few years that their winning another World Cup - without dropping a game, mind you - hardly raises an eyebrow. Lanning has been leading the juggernaut for eight years now, and though she took a break midway through 2022, she finished without losing a single game across formats in the year - which, surprisingly, is a first for her. She won the Ashes at home, lifted the 50-over World Cup in Christchurch, won the team gold at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, extended Australia's record ODI streak of winning chases, and also made it to the Queen's Birthday Honours List.
Jos Buttler
ODIs: P9 W3 L5 NR1
T20Is: P15 W9 L5 NR1

England's white-ball revolution has culminated in them becoming the first team to hold the 50-over and T20 World Cups simultaneously. Buttler has been at the forefront of this revolution, firstly as a game-changing batter and now as their white-ball captain. Though England failed to win limited-overs series at home against India and South Africa in 2022, they won the main event. They lost only one match in their march to the T20 World Cup final, decimating India by ten wickets in the semi-final, in which Buttler scored a 49-ball 80. Behind the scenes, he gave players clarity about their roles and instilled confidence in their abilities, particularly guiding allrounders Sam Curran and Stokes, both of whom starred in the five-wicket win over Pakistan in the World Cup final.
Dasun Shanaka
ODIs: P11 W6 L4 NR1
T20Is: P25 W11 L14

Against the backdrop of Sri Lanka's disastrous economic crisis, the cricket team's unexpected T20 Asia Cup win brought smiles to the faces of ordinary citizens dealing with rising prices, scarcity and unrest. And behind the success of the inexperienced team was white-ball captain Shanaka, who trusted his players' skills even after an eight-wicket defeat to Afghanistan in the opening game of the tournament. They went on to win the next five games, nearly all must-wins, with Shanaka finishing off a chase against India after losing a flurry of wickets. "As a captain, the best thing I can do is give a player the confidence to perform their skills." Shanaka said after winning the title. "I also don't get upset if they make a mistake. A lot of cricket is about emotions; if you can control your emotions, as a team you can go very far."
Pat Cummins
Tests: P10 W6 L1 D3
ODIs: P2 W2

Australia are sitting quite comfortably at the top of the World Test Championship table thanks to the dominant year they had under the captaincy of Cummins. After completing a 4-0 Ashes victory at home, Cummins led Australia to a famous series win in Pakistan, finishing as Player of the Match for his eight wickets in the deciding Test. They couldn't convert their series lead in Sri Lanka into a win, but managed to beat South Africa - quite soundly - for the first time at home since 2005. Off the field, Cummins was statesman-like, urging people to offer humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka, speaking out against climate change, and remaining dignified in dealing with the fallout of Justin Langer's sacking as Australia's coach.

Nishi Narayanan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo