Kane Williamson – New Zealand – Batter – 9 Tests – 817 runs at 58.35
The world’s No.1 Test batter, Williamson was the foundation of New Zealand’s successful WTC campaign. After a slow start to the tournament, Williamson kicked into gear with an important 89 against India at Wellington, paving the way for a series clean sweep of their eventual opponents in the WTC final. It was in the summer of 2020-21 that he took things to the next level, scoring three centuries across four innings, including scores of 251 and 238 against the West Indies and Pakistan. That is form he will be hoping to continue in the decider.
Lahiru Thirimanne – Sri Lanka – Batter – 9 Tests – 735 runs at 43.23
Thirimanne excelled for Sri Lanka through the WTC, starting his tournament with a half-century against New Zealand. While the runs dried up a touch through the remainder of 2019 and 2020, he returned to his best in 2021. A century at Galle against England was followed by a run of three consecutive half-centuries in the West Indies. He rounded his WTC tournament with a 140-run effort at Kandy to help Sri Lanka to a comfortable victory over Bangladesh.
Ajinkya Rahane – India – Batter – 17 matches – 1095 runs at 43.8
One of two players to feature in all 17 of India’s WTC matches, Rahane was the team’s highest run-scorer. The right-hander passed 50 in nine of his 28 innings, scoring three centuries along the way. He was often the man to step up for India under pressure, making 81 when India were 25/3 in the first Test against the West Indies and backing it up with a century in their second innings. The second ton came with India 39/3 against South Africa, and the third was the century that launched India’s fightback in the Border-Gavaskar series following the departure of captain Virat Kohli for paternity leave.
Babar Azam – Pakistan – Batter – 10 Tests – 932 runs at 66.57
Babar cracked the code to Test cricket in the early stages of Pakistan’s WTC campaign. Already established as one of ODI cricket’s best players going around, he entered the WTC with an average of 35.28 and one century from 21 Tests. In his first match of the tournament he scored a century at the Gabba and he has not looked back since, notching four tons alongside five half-centuries across 10 matches. Scarily for opposition attacks around the world, Azam is still only 26 years old, meaning his best years are still ahead of him.
Dean Elgar – South Africa – Batter – 12 Tests –848 runs at 42.40
Ever reliable, Elgar stood tall for the Proteas throughout the WTC, starting the campaign impressively with a 160 at Visakhapatnam. That was not enough to stave off a whitewash against India and that was largely the story of South Africa’s WTC tournament – Elgar performing admirably as a team in transition looked to find its feet. He notched a fine 88 in another defeat against England at Cape Town before his efforts finally paid off against Sri Lanka in a quickfire 127 that earnt him Player of the Match honours and South Africa a 10-wicket victory.
Tamim Iqbal – Bangladesh – Batter – 5 Tests – 420 runs at 46.66
Bangladesh’s greatest ever Test run-scorer, Tamim’s form picked up as their campaign rolled on. After falling for single digit scores in three of his first four WTC innings, Tamim passed 50 in four of his next six innings, notching nineties against the West Indies and Sri Lanka. His unbeaten 74 at Pallekele helped the Tigers secure their first points of the championship.
Rishabh Pant – India – Wicket-keeper – 11 Tests – 662 runs at 41.37 – 35 catches and 5 stumpings
Pant has emerged as one of Test cricket’s most influential players in 2021, such is the impact he has been having. At the Sydney Cricket Ground, his exhilarating 97 off 118 had India dreaming of victory and ultimately laid the platform for an unforgettable draw. At the Gabba, his unbeaten 89 wrapped up one of the country’s greatest ever Test series wins. Against England, he scored 91 in vain in the series opener before an important unbeaten 58 to help India draw level. In the final match of that series, with India needing to avoid defeat to make the WTC final, he belted his way to 101 off 118, famously reverse sweeping James Anderson over the slips against the new ball.
Jason Holder – West Indies – All-rounder – 10 Tests – 483 runs at 30.18 – 29 wickets at 28.58
The former captain has been among the West Indies’ best performers with both bat and ball through the tournament, and is the team’s second highest wicket-taker and third highest run-scorer. His best performance with the ball came in a memorable win for the West Indies in England. Playing the first Test since the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, Holder took 6/42 against England to set up a four wicket win for the tourists. He also claimed five-fors against India and Sri Lanka.
Nathan Lyon – Australia – Bowler – 14 Tests – 56 wickets at 31.37
The fourth highest wicket-taker in the tournament, Lyon was one of just three Australians to feature in all 14 of the team’s matches. Crucial to Australia’s retention of the Ashes urn in 2019, Lyon took 6/49 in the first Test as Tim Paine’s men stormed Edgbaston and that proved to be the start of an exception 12 months for the offie. That home summer he would take three five-wicket hauls across five matches, including a 10-wicket Test against eventual WTC finalists New Zealand at the Sydney Cricket Ground. His four five-wicket hauls were the equal most in the WTC tournament.
James Anderson – England – Bowler – 12 Tests – 39 wickets at 19.51
Like a fine wine, Anderson just keeps on improving with age. Anderson was sidelined for all but seven overs as England were held to a 2-2 draw in the 2019 Ashes, fuelling speculation the end of his glittering career was just around the corner. He would suffer another injury in early 2020, but thrived either side of that. He shone in South Africa, taking 5/40 at Cape Town, and excelled after international cricket returned midway through last year. It is his work in 2021 that is particularly impressive. Across three Tests, all played in Asia, he took 14 wickets at 12.35.