In the last two days of this decade, it’s only fair to respect 2019. It has after all been one of the best overall years for world sport. Cricket, in particular, has had an action-packed and fantastic season. It’s not just the ICC Cricket World Cup, but also the Ashes and the thrilling Test series across the season. Not to mention a few exciting bilateral ODI series. 2020 will see the World T20 Championship. India ended as no. 1 in Tests and 2 in ODIs, and they will look to improve upon their 5th spot in T20 rankings.

Before that, let’s take a good look at five of the finest individual batting performances of the year. Tough to choose. Not surprisingly, this is a Test-heavy list:

BEN STOKES (Headingley)

The third Test of the Ashes. Australia leading the series 1-0. England 67 All Out. Australia on the verge of 2-0. Target 359. Impossible. In walks the most valuable cricketer of 2019. Ben Stokes. Renaissance Man. Only a month after his World Cup Final miracle. Buttler, the 6th wicket, falls when England is on 253. More than a 100 runs away. The 9th wicket falls at 286. Stokes cuts loose. Bespectacled Jack Leach is at the crease as the no. 11. He scores 1 run in their partnership. Stokes lashes out. Lyon misses a simple run-out. An LBW goes begging the ball later. And Stokes ends on 135 not out. One of the greatest ever Test innings. A single-handed victory. Not the first time. Not the last. 1-1. Instrumental in the 2-2 Ashes stalemate.

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Summer 2k19 with the lads 🏏

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BEN STOKES (Lord’s)

The World Cup Final. Stokes. Again. His 83 not out will go down as part of folklore. He clinches an improbable tie after the luckiest deflection in the history of cricket. And then the Super Over. We all know how that went down. Another tie. England win on countback of boundaries. Stokes is the last man standing. His 83 is the best ODI innings of 2019, and possibly the best innings in the knockout stages of any World Cup ever. He went on after the dismissal of Jos Buttler, defying statistics and physics in the end, “winning” England their first-ever World Cup after 45 years of trying.

KUSAL PERERA (Durban)

Underdogs Sri Lanka, under a new-old captain, become the first Asian team to win a series in South Africa. But not without a miracle. Kusal Perera plays what is arguably the best Test innings in the history of the game. His 153 not out propels Sri Lanka to a victory in an unlikely chase of 309 in Durban, after being 226/9. Fernando, the last man, scores 6 in the partnership of 85. Perera breaks South Africa, coming from nowhere to win the Lankans their greatest Test series against all odds and logic. 2-0 was the final score. The 1-0 mattered the most.

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#SensationalKJP #KJP scored a 200-ball 153 as 🇱🇰 sealed a one-wicket win in Durban. #SAvSL #srilankacricket

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STEVE SMITH (Birmingham)

“We saw you crying on the telly,” the Birmingham crowd chanted on the first day of the Ashes. Steve Smith blocked it all out. In his Test return after 16 months, he scored 144 and 142 across both innings, pummelling the English bowlers to submission. In total he scored more than 700 runs in the 4 Tests he played (missed one due to concussion). But his 144 was gutsy and brave and skillful, against some of the best bowlers in English conditions. His 142 was a counter-punch, leading Australia to a lead and an eventual victory by more than 200 runs. The stage had been set for one of the greatest individual series ever.

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After a couple of days of reflection, that was a pretty special way to start the Ashes 🇦🇺

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ROHIT SHARMA (Rose Bowl)

At 54/2 in 15 overs, the target of 229 suddenly looked formidable in India’s first match of the 2019 World Cup. Captain Virat Kohli had just been dismissed, but Rohit Sharma was still there. Rohit went on to score the first of his record-breaking 5 World Cup centuries at the Rose Bowl on a sluggish pitch that tested him to the hilt. His unbeaten 122 came off 144 balls, and he took India home in a difficult chase in the 48th over, with no other batsman going past 40. India won by 6 wickets and set the tone for the rest of the tournament – Rohit followed this up with centuries against Pakistan, England, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

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🇮🇳

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