The authoritative Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack has chosen just one foreign player for his international contribution among its Five Cricketers of the Year: Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews. But it has also named Kumar Sangakkara as the Leading Cricketer of the Year.
Moeen Ali lit up the summer with 12 wickets in the Southampton and Manchester Tests against India. He finished the series with 19 at 23 apiece, proving himself the true heir to Graeme Swann. Earlier in the season he had almost saved the Headingley Test against Sri Lanka, batting for all bar one ball of the final day. And, when he was promoted to open for the one-day side, he scored the third-fastest hundred by an England batsman, from 72 balls against Sri Lanka in Colombo.
Gary Ballance began the summer with a century in his first home Test, against Sri Lanka at Lord’s, and followed up with two more against India – at Lord’s and Southampton. By the end of the season he boasted a Test average of over 60.
Yorkshire opening batsman Adam Lyth was the leading run-scorer in the County Championship, with 1,489 runs at an average of 67 and six hundreds, and was one of the pillars of his team’s triumph. He was rewarded with a place on England’s tour of the Caribbean in April 2015.
Angelo Mathews was the inspiration behind Sri Lanka’s first Test series victory in England. After helping to save the First Test at Lord’s with a century, he made 160 – and took four wickets – as Sri Lanka came from behind to win in Leeds. Mathews also led his team to wins in the one-day series and the one-off Twenty20 international.
New Zealand off-spinner Jeetan Patel, who had such a torrid time against Dale Steyn in the 2013 series in South Africa, was central to Warwickshire’s success across all three formats. He claimed 107 victims in total, more than anyone in the country, and his 25 wickets in the NatWest T20 Blast – the most in the competition – helped his side lift the trophy on home turf at Edgbaston.
Of Kumar Sangakkara, Wisden commented: He was Man of the Match as Sri Lanka beat India in the final of the World Twenty20, and finished with 2,868 runs in all formats, breaking Ricky Ponting’s record in a calendar year. At the recent World Cup, Sangakkara confirmed his standing by scoring an unprecedented four successive centuries. He previously won this award in 2011, and becomes only the second player – after Indian opener Virender Sehwag – to win it twice.
Editor Lawrence Booth commented: ‘Choosing Sangakkara just felt natural. And his four consecutive hundreds at the World Cup confirmed we’d chosen the right man. We’ll miss him when he’s gone.’
Wisden also named Meg Lanning of Australia as their inaugural Leading Woman Cricketer of the Year. She ended 2014 on top of both the one-day and Twenty20 international batting rankings – having already led Australia to the World Twenty20 title in Bangladesh, where she was the tournament’s leading run-scorer. Aged just 21, she was the youngest player – male or female – to captain Australia.