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Joe Root named Wisden's leading cricketer in the world for 2021

England batter Joe Root celebrates hitting a Test century against India
Joe Root hit six tons in 2021, including a vital 121 at his home ground Headingley in the victory against India

England batter Joe Root has been named Wisden’s leading cricketer in the world for 2021.

Root, 31, hit 1,708 runs in 15 matches in 2021, the third-highest number of Test runs scored in a calendar year.

His stellar form came despite England winning only four Tests last year, with Root stepping down from the captaincy on Friday.

England seam bowler Ollie Robinson was named one of Wisden’s five Cricketers of the Year.

India’s fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah and opener Rohit Sharma, New Zealand batter Devon Conway and South Africa women’s captain Dane van Niekerk join Robinson on the 2021 list.

South Africa opener Lizelle Lee, 30, was named the leading women’s cricketer in the world.

Across 11 one-day internationals in 2021, Lee hit more runs (632) at a higher average (90.28) than any other batter in the women’s game.

A player can only be named as one of the Cricketers of the Year once in their career and is based on achievements during the English summer – whereas the leading cricketer in the world award given to Root is for worldwide performances.

Root is the third Englishman to win the leading cricketer in the world award since its inception in 2004, following all-rounders Andrew Flintoff (2005) and Ben Stokes, who won the two previous editions.

He scored a century in all four of England’s Test wins last year, hitting six hundreds in total, including two double tons.

Yorkshire’s Root had an average of 61 throughout 2021 and only Pakistan’s Mohammad Yousuf (1,788) and West Indies’ Viv Richards (1,710) have scored more Test runs in a calendar year.

He carried his form into 2022 with back-to-back centuries against West Indies, but England ultimately fell to a 1-0 series defeat in the Caribbean and have now won only one of their past 17 Tests.

Citing the “toll” the job had taken on him, Root stepped down from the captaincy after five years and a record 64 Tests in the role.

England’s second-highest Test run-scorer of all time – after his predecessor as captain Alastair Cook – Root has overseen the most wins (27) but also the most defeats (26) as Test captain.

“Root rose above the struggles of England’s Test side to produce one of the all-time great performances in a calendar year,” said Wisden editor Lawrence Booth.

Robinson claimed seven wickets on his Test debut against New Zealand in June and has taken 39 overall in nine Tests at an average of 21.28 to date.

He was banned for eight games, five of which were suspended for two years, for historical racist and sexist tweets that came to light during his Test debut.

Robinson, 28, returned for the series against India, finishing the summer with 28 wickets in five Tests at 19.6.

He played in the Ashes in Australia but has struggled for fitness of late, missing all three Tests in England’s recent series defeat in the West Indies.

Conway hit a double century on his Test debut against England in June, before making a crucial 80 in the second Test as New Zealand secured their first series win in England since 1999.

Bumrah took 18 wickets in four Tests for India against England last summer and was instrumental in his side taking a 2-1 series lead.

The rescheduled fifth Test, which was postponed after India withdrew over Covid-19 concerns in September, will take place on 1-5 July.

Team-mate Rohit hit 368 runs in those four Tests, including a vital 127 in his side’s fourth-Test victory at The Oval.

Van Niekerk captained Oval Invincibles to victory in the inaugural Hundred tournament and was the leading run-scorer and most valuable player in the women’s competition.

Pakistan wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan was named the leading Twenty20 cricketer in the world.

The 29-year-old broke the record for the most runs scored in a calendar year across all T20 matches (2,036) and in T20 internationals (1,326) in 2021.

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