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Pat Cummins, Nat Sciver-Brunt named as Wisden's Leading Cricketers in the World

Three Australians named among Five Cricketers of the Year following compelling Ashes summer

Pat Cummins is jubilant after leading Australia to victory, England vs Australia, 1st Ashes Test, Edgbaston, 5th day, June 20, 2023

Pat Cummins is jubilant after leading Australia to victory in the first Test at Edgbaston  •  AFP/Getty Images

Pat Cummins and Nat Sciver-Brunt have been named as the Leading Cricketers in the World in the 2024 edition of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, published on Tuesday.
Cummins, Australia's fast-bowling spearhead and captain across formats, guided his side to victory over India in both the ICC World Test Championship at The Oval in June, and the 50-over World Cup in Ahmedabad in November. He also oversaw his side's successful defence of the Ashes, in last summer's enthralling 2-2 drawn series in England.
He is the first Australian man to be named as Wisden's Leading Cricketer since Michael Clarke in 2012, and succeeds his England counterpart Ben Stokes, who had claimed the honour three times in four years, in 2020, 2021 and 2023.
Lawrence Booth, Wisden's editor, said: "After captaining Australia to success in the World Test Championship, Pat Cummins retained the Ashes - thanks in no small part to his late-order runs in the First Test at Edgbaston - then led Australia to victory in the World Cup final in India. In 2023, no other seamer in world cricket took more than his 42 Test wickets."
Sciver-Brunt, meanwhile, has been recognised as the pre-eminent women's cricketer of the moment, particularly in light of her starring role in the Women's Ashes, in which she produced back-to-back ODI centuries to take the multi-format series to the wire.
She followed those performances with an England-record 66-ball hundred against Sri Lanka, while her global appeal was recognised by Mumbai Indians at the inaugural Women's Premier League auction in February, where her £320,000 price tag made her the UK's best-paid female team athlete.
The thrilling nature of both the Men's and Women's Ashes, which were played concurrently in June and July 2023, is reflected in the Anglo-Aussie flavour to Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Year - an honour a player can only win once in their career and which is judged by their performance during the English home season.
Three Australians are named among the Five, including the allrounder Ashleigh Gardner, whose 12 wickets in the one-off Women's Test at Trent Bridge were instrumental in her team's retention of the Ashes. She is the tenth female recipient of an honour that dates back to 1889, and the first Australian woman to be named as a Cricketer of the Year since Ellyse Perry in 2020.
The other Australians in the Five are Usman Khawaja, the leading run-scorer in the Men's Ashes with 496 runs at 49.60 including a series-defining hundred at Edgbaston, and Mitchell Starc, the leading bowler with 23 wickets at 27.08, who also claimed 16 wickets in the World Cup triumph.
Harry Brook, England's break-out star of the 2022-23 winter, is also named alongside Mark Wood, whose selection for the third Test at Headingley last summer was the catalyst for England's stirring fightback in the series.
"Wood turned the Ashes on its head," Booth said. "He topped 96mph, took five for 34, and pushed Australia on the back foot, literally and figuratively. In all, he claimed 14 wickets at just 20 apiece as England came from 2-0 down to square the series."
Travis Head, meanwhile, has been awarded the Wisden Trophy for the year's best Test performance, following his match-seizing innings of 163 from 174 balls in the World Test Championship final. He succeeds Jonny Bairstow as the second winner of Wisden's newest award, with the trophy having previously been contested during England-West Indies Test series from 1963 to 2020, until it was succeeded by the Richards-Botham Trophy.
The other notable award in this year's publication goes to the West Indian Hayley Matthews, who is the first female to be named the Leading Twenty20 Cricketer, after a run of eight consecutive T20I match awards, in which period she averaged 88 with the bat, at a strike-rate of 144, and 12 with the ball.
The compelling nature of the Ashes battle is an enduring theme of this year's Almanack, with Booth making the point in his Notes by the Editor that England's ultra-attacking "Bazball" approach to the series has already ramped up demand for this summer's Test series against West Indies.
"Amid the gloomy outlook for Test cricket, here was a glimmer of hope: proof that if you put on a show, bums will fill seats," he wrote. "And the 2023 Ashes were a show all right, up there with 1981 and 2005. But for rain in Manchester, it might even have rivalled Australia's Don Bradman-inspired 1936-37 victory, still the only series in Test history won by a team who had trailed 2-0.
"The scoreline was almost secondary. For the first time since English cricket vanished behind a paywall, it felt like the people's sport: Bazball was on their lips and, before long, in the Collins Dictionary."
Fittingly, the series was capped by the last hurrah of one of the most enduring Ashes competitors of modern times, Stuart Broad, who claimed his 604th and final Test wicket with the last ball of the series to bow out on a high. In his Notes, Booth salutes him as "England's maker of memories".
"The best players don't simply rack up the numbers (though his final tally made you tired just thinking of it)," Booth wrote. "They leave an impression. Even more than [James] Anderson, Broad was England's maker of memories, the curator of the family album. A rule of thumb emerged: if Broad's knees were pumping, so was England's blood."
Elsewhere in his Notes, Booth appeals for a reappraisal of the so-called Spirit of Cricket, a concept that came under intense scrutiny following Bairstow's controversial stumping during the Lord's Test, and criticises the game's administrators for undermining the competitive nature of international cricket with an increasingly inequitable split of the ICC's revenues.
"In the era of global television, the West Indians have been hardest hit among the major Test teams," Booth wrote. "India's slice of the pie had grown from less than 25% to 38.5%, or close to $230m a year … West Indies receive 4.58%, or $27.5m.
"Yet this is where cricket finds itself, in dreary thrall to the notion that market forces must be obeyed, while patronising the West Indian game with back-handed compliments, when what it needs is hard cash. There's plenty of that in cricket's central pot. Is it really beyond the wit of the administrators to distribute it according to need, not greed?"