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    Cricket teams of 2023 – Travis Head, Mohammed Shami, Shaheen Afridi and Chamari Athapaththu make it

    Cricket teams of 2023 – Travis Head, Mohammed Shami, Shaheen Afridi and Chamari Athapaththu make it


    Our staff pick their men’s and women’s teams from among those who excelled through the year

    ESPNcricinfo staff

     ESPNcricinfo Ltd

    There’s a strong Ashes flavour to ESPNcricinfo’s men’s Test team of 2023: four Australians and three Englishmen – with two Indians and two New Zealanders to keep them company.

    Usman Khawaja, the leading run-scorer in the format this year, was an automatic pick at the top of the order, where he is joined by Travis Head – a stand-in opener, just like in the Border-Gavaskar series in March.

    Head is forced up to open since voting for Khawaja’s partner was split between Rohit Sharma and Zak Crawley; Kane Williamson, Joe Root and Harry Brook all had stellar years in the middle order, with Williamson managing an unrivalled four centuries despite spending most of 2023 recovering from an ACL rupture.

    Tom Blundell, Williamson’s team-mate, takes the gloves, and should have plenty of chances behind the stumps thanks to this attack: Mitchell Starc and Stuart Broad with the new ball, before captain Pat Cummins brings himself on. It might be game over before R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are even required.

    India were dominant in men’s ODIs in 2023, winning 26 out of 33 completed games, including ten out of 11 at the World Cup – though we’re sure you remember which one they lost. The core of their side forms the core of ours, with Rohit captaining a familiar top three, and with Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Kuldeep Yadav at his disposal.

    Head, a revelation for Australia when he returned to fitness midway through the World Cup, slots into the middle order to break up the run of right-handers, while two late-bloomers, Daryl Mitchell and Heinrich Klaasen, form the rest of the batting line-up. In the absence of a specialist keeper, Klaasen takes the gloves.

    He is one of two South Africans included; Marco Jansen, who swung the new ball and showed off his talent with the bat at the World Cup, is the other. Shami and Bumrah are the other two seamers in our XI, while Kuldeep shares spin-bowling duties with the prolific Adam Zampa, Australia’s highest wicket-taker during their triumph in India.

    Two young superstars – Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill – open the batting in our T20 side after stellar IPL campaigns that cemented their status as the coming men of India’s T20 set-up. Faf du Plessis turned 39 in July but is ageing like a fine wine, and his improvement against spin means he is just the man to slot in at No. 3.

    Glenn Maxwell and Suryakumar Yadav bring some creativity and flair to the middle order, while Klaasen was perhaps the cleanest ball-striker on the circuit, hitting hundreds in the SA20, IPL, and Major League Cricket. Sikandar Raza and Daniel Sams balance the side at Nos. 7 and 8 after impressing with both bat and ball through the year.

    Shaheen Afridi, who captained Lahore Qalandars to a second straight PSL title, takes the new ball with Sams, while Nathan Ellis will close things out at the death as he does in leagues around the world. There’s no real debate over the premier spinner in the line-up: T20’s GOAT, Rashid Khan.

    Two left-handers open the batting in our women’s ODI XI in Chamari Athapaththu and Beth Mooney, with Sophie Devine shuffling down to No. 3 to accommodate them. Amelia Kerr was the format’s leading ODI run-scorer this year with 541, while Nat Sciver-Brunt, at No. 5 in the XI, hit three hundreds, including back-to-back centuries against Australia in July.

    South Africa’s Marizanne Kapp showed her adaptability with a century against Pakistan in Karachi in September, while Australia’s engine room of Ashleigh Gardner and Annabel Sutherland were both popular selections in the lower middle order – Gardner was a unanimous inclusion.

    Nadine de Klerk, Kapp’s South Africa team-mate, has proved to be a regular wicket-taker in the middle overs, while Lea Tahuhu, one of three New Zealanders in the side, provides the pace. The frontline spinner is Bangladesh’s Nahida Akter, who has been a reliable performer through the year.

    There are three T20 World Cup winners and three WPL winners in our women’s T20 XI, reflecting a year where the launch of a new franchise competition in India changed the landscape of a global game for good.

    Mooney and Megan Schutt both played their part in Australia’s success in South Africa but it was Gardner who was named Player of the Tournament – and raked in the big bucks at the WPL auction as a consequence. Mooney opens the batting alongside Athapaththu, whose consistent success for Sri Lanka was finally recognised at the WBBL this year – if not the WPL and the Hundred.

    In March, Hayley Matthews, Sciver-Brunt and Kerr were the all-round core that underpinned Mumbai Indians’ success under coach Charlotte Edwards; they are joined by Devine and Kapp in the middle order of our side. Sophie Ecclestone and Shabnim Ismail round off the bowling attack.

    More in our look back at 2023



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