New Zealand may have finished the year as world champions in Tests and runners up at the T20 World Cup, but only two players from that team feature in ESPNcricinfo's XIs of the year. Kyle Jamieson, the only one to hold his place from our Test team of 2020, boosts the Test bowling pack, while Glenn Phillips shores up the T20 middle order.
At Nos. 3 and 4 are Marnus Labuschagne, the new world leader in the ICC's Test rankings, and Joe Root, the man he knocked off the top on that table. Root, also the captain of our Test XI, hit six Test hundreds in 2021 and broke Michael Vaughan's record for most runs in a calendar year by an Englishman. Fawad Alam, who continued his fine run for Pakistan since his overdue Test recall with three hundreds, comes in next.
Rishabh Pant's heroics in Australia and in India's home series against England earn him the gloves.
Next up is Sri Lanka leggie Wanindu Hasaranga, who did not reach the same heights he did in T20 cricket in the 50-over version of the game, but still made three punchy fifties with the bat and bowled with control. The top two wicket-takers of the year, Sri Lanka quick Dushmantha Chameera, extracting good bounce and regularly hitting speeds of 90mph or more, and Ireland offspinner Simi Singh, bowling at 3.67 runs and over, also make it to the ODI team.
Completing the attack are seamers Mustafizur Rahman, who was formidable at home in Bangladesh, and Josh Little, who confirmed his status as Ireland's most promising young quick for a generation.
Pakistan's record-breaking opening pair, Babar and Mohammad Rizwan, were the obvious choices as captain and wicketkeeper of our men's T20 side respectively, while Moeen Ali's all-round exploits for Birmingham Phoenix, Chennai Super Kings and England were enough for him to edge out Mitchell Marsh in a tight battle for the No. 3 spot.
Hasaranga was the leading wicket-taker at the World Cup. His googly proved near-impossible to pick, and he conceded a fraction over a run a ball across year. After his superb displays for Australia in their title-winning campaign, Adam Zampa is hard done by to miss out but he is unfortunate that he plays in the same era as Rashid Khan, whose unerring brilliance is often taken for granted: Rashid was the year's leading wicket-taker by a significant margin and gets in as our second spinner.
Afridi and Mustafizur both make the cut after impressing with the new ball and at the death respectively, and Royal Challengers Bangalore seamer Harshal Patel, the IPL's leading wicket-taker, edges Josh Hazlewood, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi and Avesh Khan to the final bowling spot.
Our women's XI this year is a combined white-ball side; performances and stats from ODIs, T20Is, the WBBL and the Hundred were considered.
Australia played fewer games than usual in 2021 but Beth Mooney's superb form for Perth Scorchers in their WBBL-winning season made her a popular choice at the top of the order alongside England's Tammy Beaumont, who started the year with three consecutive ODI half-centuries against New Zealand and ended it with 102 against the same opposition.
England captain Heather Knight had a prolific year and takes her place in the middle order, where she is joined by allrounders Marizanne Kapp - Player of the Match in both the Hundred and WBBL final - and Hayley Matthews, who seemed to be back near her best, particularly with the ball, after a quiet few years.
The speed in our women's XI comes via Shabnim Ismail, who bowled with characteristic pace and aggression for South Africa and Oval Invincibles. She shares the seam-bowling workload with compatriot Kapp after Darcie Brown, Tash Farrant and Kate Cross were edged out by Ecclestone.