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ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2022 Debutant of the year nominees: two Ahmeds, a Bracewell and a Brook

Two Englishmen and two Pakistanis feature on this year's bowler-dominated shortlist

Yash Jha
09-Mar-2023
Abrar Ahmed took over seven wickets in each of his first three Tests - though he also went for plenty of runs  •  Getty Images

Abrar Ahmed took over seven wickets in each of his first three Tests - though he also went for plenty of runs  •  Getty Images

Abrar Ahmed (Pakistan)
Tests: 23 wickets at 30.0 (3 matches)

Abrar's debut series was a forgettable one at large for Pakistan but the 24-year-old legspinner stood out with 7 for 114 in the first innings in Multan and finishing with 11 for 234 - only five bowlers have picked up more wickets on Test debut. Abrar took another five-for against New Zealand in Karachi, if at a steep price (205 runs), as the visitors went about batting for nearly 200 overs. While he is yet to be involved in the shorter formats, an impressive domestic record (17 wickets in 12 List A matches, economy 4.55) suggests a white-ball call-up might not be too far away.
Rehan Ahmed (England)
Tests: 7 wickets at 19.57 (1 match)

Rehan started 2022 by spinning England Under-19s into the World Cup final with a haul of 12 wickets in four matches; by the time the year was done, he had become the youngest man to play Test cricket for England, at 18 - and marked the occasion with a game-changing five-wicket haul in the second innings of his debut. That Test, in Karachi - the last in England's 3-0 win in Pakistan - was the only senior international match Rehan played in the year, but the five-for to break Pakistan's middle order with the game in the balance showed why he has been rated highly for years: he was used as a net bowler before his 12th birthday, and was named as one to go big by no less than Shane Warne.
Michael Bracewell (New Zealand)
Tests: 9 wickets at 48.77 (3 matches)
ODIs: 10 wickets at 41, 264 runs at 44.00 (13 matches)
T20Is: 17 wickets at 5.24 Econ, 90 runs at 183.68 SR, (13 matches)

After waiting more than a decade for his New Zealand debut, Michael Bracewell ended his first year in international cricket having turned out in all three formats. He played one of the innings of the year in Dublin: 127 not out from 82 balls to bail New Zealand out from 217 for 8 in a chase of 302 against Ireland - 24 of those runs coming in the final over. In the next game, he took 2 for 26 in ten overs and helped finish off another chase with an unbeaten 42. While he has featured in three Tests, expect to see more of him in the shorter formats, where his frugal returns with the ball and lower-order ability with bat make him quite the prototype New Zealand white-ball cricketer.
Harry Brook (England)
Tests: 480 runs at 80 (4 matches)
T20Is: 372 runs at 137.7 SR (20 matches)

A slow debut outing - 10 off 13 balls in an ODI against West Indies in Bridgetown - was one of few steps Brook could be said to have taken falteringly in making a sparkling start to his international cricket career. England's trips to Pakistan (where he had earlier produced eye-catching performances in the PSL) would be significant markers in the 23-year-old's rapid rise. In September, he dazzled in the T20Is, scoring 238 runs in six innings, striking at 163.01, winning the Player-of-the-Series award and clinching a late ticket to the T20 World Cup. Two months later he returned as a world champion and bossed the Test series - becoming only the second man to hit hundreds in each Test of an away series of three or more matches, and proving instrumental in the 3-0 whitewash of Pakistan. With Ben Stokes having left a middle-order spot vacant in ODIs, the third format might be Brook's to make a splash in soon.
Brad Evans (Zimbabwe)
ODIs: 9 wickets at 35.22 (8 matches)
T20Is: 5 wickets at 7.27 ER (6 matches)

In his first year at international level, Evans played his part in two of Zimbabwe's biggest wins in recent times: he took 2 for 35 (Alex Carey and Marcus Stoinis) in Townsville when they claimed a first ever win over Australia in Australia, and 2 for 25 in their dramatic World Cup upset of Pakistan - removing Babar Azam and Mohammad Nawaz, the latter in a nerveless last over. There was an ODI five-for against India too, in a series where Evans also displayed some batting chops (33 not out in the first game, 28 in the third).
Pramod Madushan (Sri Lanka)
ODIs: 1 wicket at 13.0 (1 match)
T20Is: 9 wickets at ER 8.04 (5 matches)

Not many outside Sri Lanka would have heard of Madushan three days before the Sri Lankans won the Asia Cup - he only made his T20I debut in the last Super Fours game - but he was a household name come the end of the final, where he rocked Pakistan's top order by dispatching Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman off successive deliveries to give Sri Lanka an advantage they never let go of. He returned later to remove Iftikhar Ahmed and Naseem Shah to finish with 4 for 34. A hamstring injury during the opening round of the World Cup limited his participation in that event, and he is yet to add to the sole ODI cap he earned against Australia in June.
Agha Salman (Pakistan)
Tests: 376 runs at 34.18 (6 matches)

ODIs: 101 runs at 101.00 (3 matches)
Salman's first Test cap arrived after nearly a decade on the domestic circuit, and he settled quite comfortably into Pakistan's lower-middle order. Having made three half-centuries in his first five Tests, he saved his best for the last match of the year - getting to a maiden Test hundred while marshalling the tail against New Zealand in Karachi. He also adds value with his offspin, and made an impression in his three ODIs, with 27 not out off 16 balls and 50 not out off 35 in his first two innings in the Netherlands.
Arshdeep Singh (India)
ODIs: 0 wickets (3 matches)
T20Is: 33 wickets at 8.17 Econ (21 matches)

From not having played an international before July last year to being India's most reliable bowler at the T20 World Cup months later, it was a sharp ascent for Arshdeep. He showed gumption in delivering two tight last overs in back-to-back matches against Pakistan at the Asia Cup, and announced himself to the world with a rousing spell against the same opponents in the World Cup, where he took the prized wicket of Babar Azam with his first ball. Arshdeep's ability to swing the new ball and nail yorkers at the death, plus his natural left-armer's angle, have established him as a vital cog of India's T20I machinery already.

Yash Jha is a multi-platform content producer for ESPNcricinfo