1. Kraigg Brathwaite (West Indies)
Close, but no: Tamim Iqbal (Bangladesh)
The perfect foil to the hard-hitting Chris Gayle and the man charged with shouldering the bulk of the responsibility in his absence, Brathwaite came to the proverbial party time and time again against Bangladesh. That double-century in Kingstown was a particular delight.
2. Kane Williamson (Northern Districts)
Close, but no: Aiden Blizzard (Hobart Hurricanes)
The ongoing Champions League Twenty20 in India has brought a slew of flashy knocks, but none more so than Williamson’s cavalier 101 not out amassed against the Cape Cobras. Williamson promised plenty with complementary half-centuries versus the Express and Mumbai Indians – and later capitalised against the South Africans.
3. Faf du Plessis (South Africa, Chennai Super Kings)
Close, but no: JP Duminy (South Africa)
Du Plessis was a veritable one-man army in the triangular series against Zimbabwe and Australia at the Harare Sports Club. Three fine centuries in four innings – and a near-miss 96 in the fifth – silenced lurking criticism over his berth in the ODI unit entirely.
4. Kevin O’Brien (Ireland, captain)
Close, but no: Richie Berrington (Scotland)
We never forget the little guy among all the big guns – and are proud to reward with O’Brien a berth in our hypothetical middle order. Leading the Irish to ODI series victory over Scotland with great aplomb in the absence of regular skipper Ed Joyce, the beligerent right-hander – again – will be the wild card to watch at next year’s World Cup.
5. Shivnarine Chanderpaul (West Indies)
Close, but no: Mominul Haque (Bangladesh)
The gift that just keeps giving to West Indian cricket, the name ‘Chanderpaul’ and term ‘not out’ continued to go hand in hand this month. Middle-order backbone or steely shepherd to the tail-enders, the unorthodox left-hander was characteristically unrivaled against Bangladesh – and now has almost 12,000 Test runs.
6. Mitchell Marsh (Australia, Perth Scorchers)
Close, but no: Joe Root (England)
The former bad boy of Australian cricket has put those off-field indiscretions behind him to emerge as a veritable kingpin. He delivered, with great gusto, against South Africa and Zimbabwe – and has continued this rich stretch of form in the Champions League.
7. Jos Buttler (England, wicketkeeper)
Close, but no: Mushfiqur Rahim (Bangladesh)
England were largely dour in the limited-overs series against India. Gratefully, then, Buttler proved a solitary rose among a slew of thorns. Sharp behind the stumps and inventive with the willow, he typifies the direction friends, fans and foes alike would like to see the dynamic direction English cricket must follow.
8. Sulieman Benn (West Indies)
Close, but no: Mohammad Mahmudullah (Bangladesh)
The gangly frame of Benn was amiss in international cricket for a substantial period, but that absence was quickly rectified this month. If not the questionable actions of Shane Shillingford and Narine, West Indian cricket at least has the reliable right-arm of Benn to take them forward – as back-to-back five-wicket hauls against Bangladesh will attest.
9. Sunil Narine (Kolkata Knight Riders)
Close, but no: Karanveer Singh (Kings XI Punjab)
The Champions League’s suspect bowling action committee eventually caught up with him, his quicker delivery in particular. But Narine – overextended elbow or not – is still a marvel in Twenty20 cricket. He recently bowled a maiden during a Super Over in the Caribbean Premier League, too.
10. Kemar Roach (West Indies)
Close, but no: Craig Young (Ireland)
Roach has set his ambitious sights on the number one spot in the International Cricket Council’s rankings for Test bowlers. While that’s a very high hope – and arugably a bridge too far – there is no denying his fierce impact during the Windies’ escapades against Bangladesh. Roach v South Africa’s Dale Steyn, in the hard and fast conditions, later this year, should be a real treat.
11. Mohammed Shami (India)
Close, but no: Ben Hilfenhaus (Hobart Hurricanes)
The unassuming Shami copped a bit of flak for a rather quiet period in the build-up to the ODI series against England. He bettered this with a line of consistently decent performances. The spells didn’t quite reignite the expectancy, but did enough to suggest he will unearth his groove against the West Indies soon enough.
What do we want? More switch hits. When do we want them? Soon.
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Giles backs Ben Stokes after altercation allegations.