C365's Team of the Month – January
Our Team of the Month is leaning heavily towards the eastern side of the world (looking at a flat map, obviously) though there is nary an India bowler to be found. Also obviously.
January saw a lot of cricket played in the Antipodes, with England in Australia, and the West Indies and then India in New Zealand. There was also some action in the UAE, but nothing in South Africa.
As such, our Team of the Month is leaning heavily towards the eastern side of the world (looking at a flat map, obviously) though there is nary an India bowler to be found. Also obviously.
<b>1. Aaron Finch – Australia</b><br><b>Notable efforts:</b> 50, 84* (both BBL), 121, 108, 52
The opening batsman enjoyed batting against England's bowlers when they played in the UK last year, and this time round, Down Under, he's had a grand old time too, in the ODIs and the T20s.
The big-hitting Melbourne Renegades star started the month playing Big Bash, hitting the roof of the Etihad stadium, and scoring two half tons in a row early in the month. He then donned his colourful green kit in the ODIs and blasted England to all corners.
He scored a century in the first ODI, resulting in a big win for Oz, and then another ton in the fourth match, which was the only game the Aussies lost in the series. In the opening T20 he shared a century stand with Cameron White and recorded yet another fifty.
<b>2. Kaushal Silva – Sri Lanka</b><br><b>Notable efforts:</b> 81, 95, 58, 139
The Sri Lanka opener has played only seven Tests, but his recent efforts have done much to keep him firmly in place. He started the month with a near-ton against Pakistan in the New Year's Test, which ended in a draw, and then added two half tons in the next game in Dubai, which Sri Lanka won by nine wickets.
His most recent innings, which saw him record his maiden Test century, was one of the reasons Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh in Dhaka by a hefty innings and 248 runs. The Tigers may not have a top class bowling attack, but his consistency has been impressive, and you still have to score the runs.
<b>3. Kane Williamson – New Zealand</b><br><b>Notable efforts:</b> 47, 71, 77, 65, 60, 88
The blonde batsman's good run started at the tail end of the ODI series against the West Indies, and only went upwards from there. The series against India saw him make a half century in each of the first four matches, leading his side to a series win, and then adding another in the final game.
In each of those knocks he formed at least a half century stand, with three of them going into triple figures, twice with Ross Taylor and once with Martin Guptill. He also contributed with the ball, with his part-time spin bagging a wicket in all but one of this month's ODIs.
<b>4. Ross Taylor – New Zealand</b><br><b>Notable efforts:</b> 55, 57, 112*, 102
The former captain was beyond impressive against India, contributing heavily to their series win over the then-number one ODI side. He scored two fifties and two centuries, often in conjunction with Williamson, an punished the many deliveries on his leg stump.
As noted in our Player of the Week recently, Taylor was rubbish against the West Indies, but suddenly emerged from the shadows to show up India's rather pedestrian bowling attack. But his ton in Hamilton was the icing on the cake, as the Kiwis needed to win to ensure a series triumph. He then followed that up with a ton in the finale, never taking his foot off the accelerator.
<b>5. Eoin Morgan – England</b><br><b>Notable efforts:</b> 50, 106, 54
While England may have lost the ODI series four-one, Morgan was the series' top scorer and the only player in his side to score a century, though it was in vain in the second ODI, as his top order failed to fire.
His half ton in Sydney in the third match was seemingly enough for a win, but he was again denied by the hosts as James Faulkner's efforts stole the win from under Alastair Cook's nose. As such, there's chat about Morgan taking over the ODI captaincy.
<b>6. MS Dhoni (WK) – India</b><br><b>Notable efforts:</b> 40, 56, 50, 79*
It's almost expected the Virat Kohli or Cheteshwar Pujara are on these lists, but this month has not been good for India's top order. While December in South Africa was rubbish for Dhoni, this month has been better in New Zealand.
Still, his personal form will not be much of a consolation for him, as he always had to come in to either add quick runs to the first innings score, or smash it about to get close to the target required. Hopefully his place on this list will be a salve on those wounds.
<b>7. Corey Anderson – New Zealand</b><br><b>Notable efforts:</b> 131*, 68*, 44, 3/67, 5/63
The big Kiwi all-rounder has become the best thing since sliced bread, and since his unbeaten century against the West Indies at the start of the month, off just 36 balls (a new ODI record) he's become the talk of the IPL auction.
He followed that remarkable effort up with some sterling performances against India, with his best being a 68 not out in the first ODI and set his side on the course to victory.
He has also been impressive with the ball, with the latter part of the India series seeing him take vital wickets. The second ODI saw him take three wickets and make 44, while the third gave him his maiden ODI five-fer.
<b>8. Ben Stokes – England</b><br><b>Notable efforts:</b> 47, 70, 6/99, 4/38, 3/43
The Durham all-rounder has a foul mouth on him and is plenty aggressive, and that might just be the reason England have a win on their tour Down Under. Stokes has been the bright light for the Three Lions, going back to the Ashes in December.
His form has continued in January, most notably with the ball in the final Ashes Test at the SCG, where he took six wickets. England still lost, but Stokes did not give up, even as his side lost the ODI series.
England finally bagged a win in the fourth ODI, avoiding a record string of defeats, thanks almost entirely to Stokes. He scored 70 with the bat after being promoted up to three, and followed it up with four wickets, including James Faulkner and Glenn Maxwell.
<b>9. James Faulkner – Australia</b><br><b>Notable efforts:</b> 3/9 (BBL), 69*, 2/35, 4/67
The fast bowler is increasingly being considered an all rounder, and his most stand-out moment during the ODIs was his unbeaten 69 in the third ODI. It's probably the stand-out moment of the series, if we're honest.
England were well on track to register their first win of the tour, with Cook smiling broadly in the field and the Aussies needing nearly 60 runs with just one wicket in hand. Faulkner then smashed his way to the win off just 47 balls, including five sixes.
Faulkner's knee injury and subsequent sidelining for the South Africa tour will have the Proteas' batsmen breathing a sigh of relief. In the ODIs against England he took at least two wickets in each game, though his four-fer in Perth went in vain.
<b>10. Junaid Khan – Pakistan</b><br><b>Notable efforts:</b> 5/54, 3/93, 3/102, 3/81
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