2018 was a year for bowlers, especially fast bowlers.
The global average of batsmen in this calendar year was the lowest since 1959. Over the world, be it in South Africa or England, Sri Lanka or New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates or Australia, the conditions were often treacherous. And bowlers across the teams became potent units.
Hence, the batsmen with glittering performances this year were the ones forged by the most challenging of conditions.
Here is our pick of the best batsmen of 2018….
Read also: 2018 year-ender: The Top 10 Test bowlers
10. Brendan Taylor: 2 Tests 246 runs at 82.00
Small sample, and that too in Bangladesh. But the fact remains that even the thought of Zimbabwe returning to the Test-arena was a miracle cutting across geopolitical, economic and sporting domains. Visiting Bangladesh has become a progressively difficult task for touring sides over the years.
With spinners on full song on a pitch made to order for them, the batting crumbling around him, hitting two hundreds in the same Test and holding the fort alone testimony to the enduring class of this man. One could almost see the spirit of Andy Flower in Taylor as he produced two masterpieces on a minefield.
9. Jos Buttler: 10 Tests 760 runs at 44.70
After this splendid year, Buttler will no longer be considered a white-ball cricketer. One of the three quality wicketkeeper-batsmen England boasts of, he is perfectly capable of slipping his hands into the big gloves. But, he has also looked one of the classiest and most accomplished batsmen of the side.
Looked solid in both England and Sri Lanka.
8. Kusal Mendis: 12 Tests 1023 runs at 46.50
Till sometime back branded as a natural stroke player, Mendis demonstrated his gritty side with some superb innings under pressure.
The only one apart from Virat Kohli to amass more than 1000 runs in this calendar year, his Wellington knock saved the Test and underlined his claims as a force to reckon with.
7. Angelo Matthews: 8 Tests 640 runs at 49.23
After a few ordinary performances against West Indies and South Africa, Matthews excelled both in Sri Lanka and in New Zealand and ended the year riding on a commendable sequence of consistency.
The 83 and unbeaten 120 at Wellington saved the day for Sri Lanka and harked one back to the old values of playing out enormous periods of time.
6. Tom Latham: 7 Tests 658 runs at 59.81
True, his numbers are skewed by two huge knocks towards the end of the year, and he has just one half century in six innings away from home in the twelve months under consideration, but carrying one’s bat for 264 is no mean feat.
Neither is following it up with 176 in the very next Test. Latham is by no means a great player yet unless he starts travelling well, but he is a big force at home.
5. AB de Villiers: 7 Tests 638 runs at 53.16
Even in his swansong year, De Villiers was a master of his craft. Consistent against probing Indian bowling and fantastic against the potent Australian attack, De Villiers retired on a high.
He would have ranked even higher had it not been for the fact that he did not play outside his home grounds.
4. Babar Azam: 8 Tests 616 runs at 56.00
Be it Dublin, Lord’s, Abu Dhabi, Dubai or Centurion, Babar Azam performed everywhere. Amazingly consistent, he performed against every sort of bowling and surface.
This could be a watershed year for the young Pakistani batsman.
3. Henry Nicholls: 7 Tests 658 runs at 73.11
He started with an unbeaten 145 against England and ended with an unbeaten 162 against Sri Lanka, both at home. In between, there was a 126, once again unbeaten, in Abu Dhabi, that went a long way to earn a historic win for New Zealand.
A typical Kiwi performer who does not quite attract adulation, but an average of 73.11 with three hundreds is some year.
2. Kane Williamson: 7 Tests 651 runs at 59.18
The New Zealand captain is pure class. And it shone through this year at home and in UAE. The 89 and 139 he managed at Abu Dhabi turned the game on its head and won New Zealand their first away series against Pakistan in 39 years.
He had come in when there were fires to put out, and by the time he left the side was riding on the crest of a major wave. It was not the first association with Nichols that had won New Zealand a Test this year either.
1. Virat Kohli: 13 Tests 1322 runs at 55.08
The mantle of the best batsman of the world rests quite comfortably on his shoulders now. Kohli faced some of the most vicious bowling on nearly unplayable surfaces, most often without any semblance of support from his mates, and scored 1322 runs.
Be it Centurion, Edgbaston or Perth, great bowling on difficult tracks saw him eke out magnificent hundreds. He did all this while leading India, one of the most challenging jobs in the world.