England stars among Wisden's five cricketers of the year

April 5, 2017

England and Warwickshire star Chris Woakes and Northampton's Ben Duckett have been named among Wisden's five cricketers of the year.

The pair were listed alongside Middlesex seamer Toby Roland-Jones, a key member of the county's LV= County Championship-winning team, and veteran Pakistan players Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan, who were part of the team that drew the Test series 2-2 with England last year to briefly put their country top of the ICC Test rankings.

Fans booking corporate hospitality for matches at Edgbaston may see a lot of Woakes this season, although his central contract means fewer of those will be for Warwickshire than in the past, while he will spend the next few weeks in the Indian Premier League (IPL). 

However, with the ground hosting both ICC Champions Trophy matches and the first day-night Test match to be played in England, there will be some exciting chances to see Woakes in action for his country this summer.

Wisden editor Lawrence Booth wrote: "This was the year Chris Woakes announced himself as an international-class all-rounder. He took 26 wickets at 16 apiece in four Tests against Pakistan - only Abdul Qadir has managed more in a series between the sides - and contributed regular runs down the order. 

"His unbeaten 95 in the one-day international against Sri Lanka at Trent Bridge was a world record for a batsman at number eight or below."

Speaking to the Guardian about the IPL, Woakes outlined how he plans to improve his bowling further. He said: "Death bowling is an area of my game that has improved dramatically, I think, but to be considered a world-class death bowler you have to do it against the best players in the IPL in high-pressure situations." 

Duckett's inclusion was due to his brilliant, innovative batsmanship for Northamptonshire that led to him being called up to the England team. Wisden said: "As much as anyone, he epitomised English cricket’s new breed of 360-degree batsmanship," an acknowledgement that after years of underachievement in one-day cricket due to an over-reliance on orthodox technique, this year's ICC Champions Trophy hosts have now developed the kind of big-hitting, flexible players who can produce some mammoth totals. 

The winter proved a tough one for Duckett on turning subcontinental pitches, although he did make a maiden test 50 in the defeat to Bangladesh in Dhaka - a defeat put in perspective by the fast-improving Bangladeshis subsequently winning in Colombo to draw the Test series in Sri Lanka 1-1. While Duckett may need to make adjustments to his technique at Test level, his value to England's limited overs teams may be amply demonstrated this year. With 2,706 runs in all formats last year and aged just 22, the next few years may see some great things from him. 

Roland-Jones took 54 wickets for Middlesex in their championship season, many of them on flat tracks at Lord's, and he also made the England squad, suggesting he could feature in the Tests against South Africa and the West Indies this summer.

Wisden traditionally names five cricketers of the year each time it is published. Players can only ever be named once.

The publication also named India's captain Kirat Kohli as the men's international player of the year, while Australian all-rounder Ellyse Perry took the women's award.

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