WTC Team of the Tournament contenders: Volume 3
Steve Smith – Australia – Batter – 13 Tests – 1341 runs at 63.85
Smith continued his march to greatness in the WTC, beginning the tournament with an astoundingly impressive Ashes series (774 runs at 110.57). He started that series with twin centuries as Australia stormed England’s fortress at Edgbaston, backed it up with a 92 in a draw at Lord’s, and then returned from concussions with a double-century at Old Trafford. That proved his last century for 15 months but in that time he still scored four half-centuries. The century ‘drought’ ended at the start of this year as he made 131 against India in Sydney, giving him the second most tons of any player in the WTC.
Mayank Agarwal – India – Batter – 12 Tests – 857 runs at 42.85
India’s first choice opener for much of the WTC, Agarwal was at his best during the country’s 3-0 sweep of South Africa. The opener made 340 runs at an average of 85 that series, scoring a double-century in the first Test and 108 in the second. He carried on the run-glut against Bangladesh, averaging 128.50 across the two Tests, making 243 at Indore.
Dimuth Karunaratne – Sri Lanka – Batter – 10 Tests – 999 runs at 55.5
In a lean tournament for the Sri Lankans, Karunaratne shone and was one of the best performing openers in the World Test Championship. Among openers in the WTC, only Rohit Sharma scored more runs but the Indian star played one more match than Karunaratne’s 10. The Sri Lanka captain passed 50 in eight of his 18 innings, scoring a century in his first match of the tournament against New Zealand. He went on to score another ton in Johannesburg before dominating Bangladesh in the WTC’s final series, following up a double-century with scores of 118 and 66 in a series sealing win in Pallekele.
Azhar Ali – Pakistan – Batter – 12 Tests – 748 runs at 39.36
The rock at first drop for Pakistan, Azhar was the team’s second highest run-scorer through the WTC. After a somewhat lean start to the campaign against Australia, his form reignited against Sri Lanka, scoring an important second innings century at Karachi. That was followed by an unbeaten 141 in tough conditions in Southampton in an innings where he was one of only three batters to pass 20. Alongside the two tons, he made two half-centuries, including a 93 on green seamer in Christchurch.
Henry Nicholls – New Zealand – Batter – 10 Tests – 585 runs at 41.78
An ever reliable performer for the Black Caps, Nicholls was a fixture in their line-up for all 10 of their WTC matches on their way to the final. His best performances came in the team’s final push to make the decider, averaging 81 through New Zealand’s last two bilateral series against Pakistan and the West Indies. He stepped up in the absence of Kane Williamson in the second Test against the West Indies, scoring 174, and rounded out his WTC campaign with 157 against Pakistan at Christchurch.
Mominul Haque – Bangladesh – Batter – 7 Tests – 534 runs at 41.07
The Bangladesh skipper was his nation’s highest run-scorer in the tournament. Mominul’s best performances came in 2021 as he notched two centuries across four Tests. The left-hander made an impressive 115 in Bangladesh’s second innings of the opening Test against the West Indies, before making 127 against Sri Lanka in a high-scoring draw.
Ben Stokes – England – All-rounder – 17 Tests – 1334 runs at 46 – 34 wickets at 26.26
It has been a golden two years for Stokes, whose game has reached new levels with both bat and ball. The all-rounder was the WTC’s fourth highest run-scorer, scoring four centuries and six fifties across his 32 innings, while still taking the 16th most wickets. He was particularly destructive against the West Indies, averaging 90.75 with the bat and 16.33 with the ball, but his most memorable performances came in the Ashes. Having fired the Australians a warning with an unbeaten 115 in the draw at Lord’s, Stokes produced one of modern cricket’s greatest innings, scoring an unbeaten 135 to drag England to victory at Headingley.
Tim Paine – Australia – Wicket-keeper – 14 Tests – 550 runs at 28.94 – 63 catches and 2 stumpings
The Australia captain completed comfortably the most dismissals of any keeper in the WTC, claiming 15 more than the next best. Exceptional behind the stumps, Paine’s 2.32 dismissals per innings were bettered only by South Africa’s Quinton de Kock (2.44) among keepers who played more than one match. A reliable performer with the bat, Paine scored four half-centuries in the WTC. The most notable of those was his unbeaten 73 at Adelaide Oval, dragging Australia back into the game against India.
Kemar Roach – West Indies – Bowler – 10 Tests – 32 wickets at 29.96
The leader of the West Indies attack, Roach was the Caribbean outfit’s top wicket-taker in the WTC. The quick started his campaign in style taking 4/66 against India at North Sound and was equally impressive against England, taking 4/72 at Old Trafford. The veteran finished his WTC campaign with an exclamation mark, taking nine wickets across two Tests against Sri Lanka.
Anrich Nortje – South Africa – Bowler – 11 Tests – 46 wickets at 27.06
The latest fast bowler off the South African production line, Nortje had a somewhat lean start to his Test cricket career but has come leaps and bounds since claiming his first five-wicket haul against England at Johannesburg. He had averaged 36.27 up until that match and has averaged 26.72 since. Alongside the 5/110 he took against England; Nortje also took 6/56 against Sri Lanka and 5/56 against Pakistan.