These players have lit up the game in the previous 12 months and will go into the New Year as the top ranked batsmen so let’s take a look at who will be relied upon to score heavily in international cricket history as of 2022.
10 Best Cricket Batsmen of 2022
1. Marnus Labuschagne
Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne made cricket history in 2019 when he became the first player to be used as a concussion substitute in a test match. It was a piece of good fortune for the player and also for the Australians who has uncovered a star batsman, almost by accident.
Labuschagne replaced Steve Smith in that game and, by the end of the year, he had also overtaken his teammate as the leading run scorer in test match cricket. He continued to score heavily in the longest form of the game and the 27 year old will start 2022 as the number one ranked test batter.
In 35 international matches – tests and ODIs – up to and including the fourth Ashes test at Sydney in 2022, Labuschagne had made 2644 runs with seven centuries and a best of 215.
2. Babar Azam
Pakistan’s Babar Azam enjoyed a stunning period in 2021 and he will start the new year as the number one ranked One Day International batsman in the world. Babar also features inside the top ten for both T20is and Test Cricket.
He starred in all three formats, scoring 939 runs in the previous calendar year. Those runs came at an overall strike rate of 127.58 and an average of 37.56. Those are impressive figures considering that test cricket will tend to drive strike rates down.
Overall, Babar Azam has played in 203 games across those three formats at the start of 2022. He has compiled over 9,000 runs with 20 international centuries.
3. Dawid Malan
Like all of England’s test batsmen, Dawid Malan has struggled against Australia in the 2021/22 Ashes series. However, he starts the New Year as the number one ranked T20i batsman and that’s enough to see him included on this list.
He became only the second English batter to make a T20i century when he scored 103 against New Zealand in 2019. Since then, he’s also made a 99 in this format for his country. There are criticisms that Malan doesn’t score quickly enough in limited overs cricket but he should remain an important player for England in 2022.
4. Virat Kohli
Critics will be quick to point out that it’s been more than two years since Virat Kohli scored an international century. However, India’s test match captain remains a threat in all three forms of cricket and that’s why he deserves this place on our list.
The official ICC rankings tend to agree, with Kohli ranked second in One Day Internationals and ninth in test cricket. In 2022, he will want to prove those critics wrong and I’m expecting a big response from Virat Kohli this year.
5. Joe Root
In terms of total test runs, 2021 was the best year of Joe Root’s career. In a struggling England side, he just failed to set a new record for most runs in a calendar year with an aggregate of 1708 which remains the third highest of all time.
Root made two double hundreds at the start of the year and, at times, it seemed like he was fighting a lone battle. As to what happens in 2022, much could depend on whether he decides to hold on to the England captaincy but there’s no doubt that Joe Root remains a world class batsman.
6. Kane Williamson
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson has been one of the most consistent batsmen in world cricket for some time now. Big things are expected from the Kiwi in 2022 and he retains some high ranking positions in all formats of the game.
As 2022 began, Williamson was ranked third in the ICC test ratings behind Marnus Labuschagne and Joe Root. He’s also ninth in the ODI table. Overall, New Zealand’s current captain has more than 15,000 international runs with 37 centuries and a highest score of 251.
7. Rohit Sharma
India’s Rohit Sharma is set to lead India in the limited overs formats and we should see a lot more of him in the white ball game. He hasn’t featured in India’s test series versus South Africa at the start of 2022 but he still has a lot to offer in the longer form of cricket.
Rohit is a record breaker in ODI cricket: He has three double hundreds in the 50-over format with the all-time highest score of 264. Those are incredible statistics and I expect he’s going to be prolific again in 2022.
8. David Warner
Australia’s powerful left handed opener struggled in England in 2019 but that hasn’t been the case in the latest Ashes series. In six innings across the first four tests of 2021/22, David Warner was the third highest scorer overall with 273 runs at an average of 45.5.
He’s been a prolific batsman throughout his career and I won’t be surprised to see Warner enjoy another productive year. At the start of 2022, he was ranked sixth in test cricket and seventh in ODIs. The big shock in 2021 came when he was dropped by Sunrisers Hyderabad at the IPL but he is tipped to respond strongly with a new franchise.
9. Aaron Finch
Australia’s limited overs skipper Aaron Finch has played test cricket but he’s largely seen as a white ball specialist. The ICC ratings back that up and he was ranked fifth in ODIs and sixth in T20is at the start of 2022.
Notable achievements include the fact that Finch began 2022 with two of the three highest scores in T20 international cricket. Included in that list is the current world record of 172 which was made against Zimbabwe in 2018.
10. Steve Smith
By his own very high standards, 2021 wasn’t the best year for Steve Smith. After averaging over 100 in the Ashes series of 2019, he failed to score a century in any of the first four tests against England in 2021/22.
However, it would be foolish to write him off. Form is temporary in this game but class is permanent and Smith has that class in abundance. He may not be the most elegant player to watch but he is highly effective.
He’ll be concentrating on test cricket from here on and, in the red ball format, Smith has 7757 runs at an average of 60.60 with no fewer than 27 hundreds and a best of 239.
About the ICC Ratings
The ICC ratings can attract some criticism at times but they remain the best possible gauge by which to measure a player’s performance. The calculations are carried out by taking a player’s performances over their career. However, it wouldn’t make sense to rely too heavily on statistics from many years ago so their recent returns carry more weight.
In every game that they play, the batsman will be given marks out of 1000. Obviously, the amount of runs that they score will have a big influence but the ratings will also include factors such as conditions and the strength of the opposition.
It may not be a flawless procedure but it gives us an accurate measure of who the best players in the world are at a specific point in time. And, for the purposes of previews such as these, it also gives us clues as to who will be the most productive players in the twelve months that lie ahead.
Who are the up and coming batsmen who will be looking for a place on this list at the start of 2023? As a keen follower of the English team, there’s not much to look forward to right now but one batter should be exciting to watch in 2022.
At the start of 2022, only four English batsmen had scored hundreds in T20 international cricket. Liam Livingstone joined the list in 2021 with a brilliant 103 from just 43 balls against Pakistan.
The explosive Lancashire batter has gained some lucrative contracts in the IPL and elsewhere and this should be a year when he climbs the limited overs rankings.
When he scored a brilliant double century on test debut in 2021, we thought that Devon Conway was perfect for the red ball game. He started 2022 brilliantly with two test centuries against Bangladesh but the left hander is also highly rated in limited overs cricket.
It’s going to be a really big year for Devon Conway who began 2022 in seventh place in the ICC rankings for T20 international cricket.
Other batsmen who I think you should look out for in 2022 include Shreyas Iyer, Rassie van der Dussen, Will Smeed, Mohammad Rizwan and Shimron Hetmyer. Let’s bring on the top class action across 2022 and we’ll see who makes it onto this list in twelve months’ time.