ICC announce nominees for Men's Test Cricketer of the Year 2023

Three brilliant batters and a star all-rounder have been shortlisted for ICC Men’s Test Cricketer of the Year 2023

ICC announce nominees for Men's Test Cricketer of the Year 2023 PHOTO: ICC

Three brilliant batters and a star all-rounder have been shortlisted for ICC Men’s Test Cricketer of the Year 2023.

Ravichandran Ashwin (India)

41 wickets in seven matches

India’s star spinner Ravichandran Ashwin will be in the running for the ICC Men’s Test Cricketer of the Year for the third time, having won in 2016 and nominated in 2021.

He played a pivotal role in India’s road to the World Test Championship 2021-23 Final and has already made a massive impact in the current iteration as well.

In the Border-Gavaskar series on home soil, Ashwin's impressive performance saw him claim 25 wickets in four matches to help India retain the coveted title. In the process, he also became the highest wicket-taker for India against Australia in Test cricket with 114 wickets, surpassing Anil Kumble with 111.

His exceptional all-round effort, which included 86 runs in a low-scoring series, earned him the well-deserved Player of the Series award.

Despite his brilliant returns against Australia, Ashwin did not find a place in the XI in the World Test Championship Final in June.

After the WTC23 Final heartbreak, Ashwin was drafted back into the team for the first game against West Indies and he showed exactly what India had missed out on with 12 wickets followed by a fifty and three wickets in the next match.

Memorable performance

The No.1 ranked Test bowler set the tone in the first match of the Border-Gavaskar series against Australia in Nagpur with eight wickets to go with some handy runs.

In the first innings, Ashwin played a pivotal role in halting Alex Carey's counter-attacking innings, preventing Australia from posting a formidable total. His notable contributions included dismissing Pat Cummins and Scott Boland, ultimately bowling the visitors out for 177.

With the bat, Ashwin walked out as a nightwatchman and played his role to perfection. He shielded Rohit Sharma towards the end of Day 1 and added 23 valuable runs on Day 2, stitching a 42-run stand with the skipper.

On a pitch conducive to spin, Ashwin opened the bowling and unsurprisingly, scalped Australia’s left-handed openers. He trapped three more middle-order batters leg before wicket to complete a five-wicket haul – the 31st of his career – as Australia were bundled out for 91, losing by an innings and 132 runs.

Travis Head (Australia)

919 runs in 12 matches

The year that was

There was nothing that Travis Head could do wrong this year, capping off a stunning 2023 with the World Test Championship, the Ashes and the World Cup in hand.

Head enjoyed his most prolific year in Test cricket since making his debut in 2018, starting with a half-century in the New Year match against South Africa.

Even in the challenging Border-Gavaskar series, where many Australian batters struggled, Head stood out as one of the only three visiting players to amass over 200 runs, despite featuring in only three matches.

He took his form over to World Test Championship Final against the same opponents but produced a Player of the Match performance, which included a blistering century that took the game away from India.

Head’s dream run in England continued with a fifty each in the first three Ashes matches against England and went on to make vital contributions in the remaining games in the year, including the ongoing series against Pakistan.

Memorable performance

Travis Head scored just one century in the year and chose the biggest occasion possible to do so – the World Test Championship Final.

Entering the crease at 76/3 with India making early inroads, Head, alongside the steadfast Steve Smith, aggressively took on the Indian bowlers on Day 1. Demonstrating an array of powerful shots, he raced to a century off just 106 balls, laced with 14 boundaries and a six. 

By the end of the first day, Australia had amassed a formidable total of 327/3, with Head remaining unbeaten on 146.

Continuing his impressive form, Head reached the 150-run mark early on Day 2, but soon lost his wicket, but not before putting Australia comfortably in the box seat to win the WTC23 mace.

Given the context of the match, Head's century transcended personal achievement as it demoralized the Indian attack and gave Australia the upper hand.

Usman Khawaja (Australia)

1210 runs in 13 matches

The year that was

Usman Khawaja’s stocks continued to rise in 2023, following up on a stellar comeback year in 2022 to earn a second consecutive Test Cricketer of the Year nomination.

Khawaja kicked off 2023 in splendid form, carrying forward his momentum from the previous year by notching a career-best score of 195* against South Africa.

The opener shined in the biggest test of his career – the away series against India where he finished as the top run-getter among both teams with 333 runs in four matches, which included a century and two fifties.

Undeterred by the World Test Championship Final setback, Khawaja rebounded against England in the Ashes, finishing once again as the highest run-getter in the series with 496 runs.

The left-handed star finished the year on a high with three scores of 40+ against Pakistan.

The left-handed star finished the year on a high with three scores of 40+ against Pakistan.

With a grand total of 1210 runs, Khawaja stood alone as the sole player to breach the four-figure mark for Test runs in the challenging and rewarding year of 2023.

Memorable performance

Khawaja had two big tons against South Africa (195*) and India (180) but saved his best for arch-rivals England in the Ashes.

After a surprise declaration at 393/8 in the first innings of the Test, England managed to put pressure on Australia with early wickets. Undeterred, Khawaja stitched a crucial partnership with Travis Head, Cameron Green, and Alex Carey en route to his century that helped Australia get close to England’s total.

Khawaja once again proved to be a thorn in England’s side after they set a target of 281 for the win. The southpaw once again batted deep with grit and determination for his 65 off 197 balls. 

Although his departure left Australia at 209/7, Pat Cummins delivered a special performance – this time with the bat – to take Australia to a memorable Ashes victory.

For his century and fifty in the second innings, Khawaja took home the Player of the Match.

Joe Root (England)

787 runs and 8 wickets in 8 matches

The year that was

Like Ashwin, Joe Root will be eyeing his second ICC Men’s Test Cricketer of the Year, having won the award in 2021.

Root began the year in style, with three fifty-plus scores in the two-match series against New Zealand. This included a brilliant 153* and 95 in the second game which played out to be one of the most thrilling Test matches of the year, that New Zealand won by one run.

Root followed it up with another half-century in the one-off Test against Ireland and a stellar Ashes series.

Root began the five-match series against Australia with an unbeaten 118 in the opening Test. After a couple of lean returns, Root finished the series on a high with a half-century each in the last two Tests, helping England draw the series 2-2.

To go with the mountain of runs, Root also proved to be very handy with the ball, scalping 8 wickets in 2023.

Memorable performance

In a match that will be etched in memory as one of the rare instances of a team winning after being asked to follow on in Test cricket, Joe Root delivered a remarkable performance in each innings, steering England to the cusp of victory.

England found themselves in dire straits at 21/3 when Root, in partnership with Harry Brook, weathered the storm and forged a massive 302-run stand. While Brook went on a barrage, Root was solid at the other end to ensure England didn’t slip further.

Having gone without a century for seven matches before, Root chose the perfect time to end the drought and score his 29th Test ton.

It took only 42 more balls for him to reach the 150-run mark, after which England declared.

England bowled the hosts out for 209 but New Zealand made amends after being asked to follow on, setting England a 258-run target.

England were once again in trouble at 80/5 when Root and Ben Stokes had to bail them out. This time, Root took on the role of the aggressor, while Stokes maintained composure, contributing to a vital 121-run partnership for the sixth wicket.

Root, tantalizingly five runs short of another century, fell victim to Wagner, who struck for the second time in as many overs, having previously removed Stokes. 

Despite Root's valiant efforts in both innings, Wagner claimed the final wicket of James Anderson with England agonizingly one run short of the target, resulting in a heartbreaking loss for the visitors.