Exciting pacers, a new Test opener, and a dashing keeper-batsman figure in our list of nominees for debutants of the year
Abid Ali (Pakistan)
Tests: 321 runs at 160.50 (2 matches)
ODIs: 191 runs at 47.75 (4 matches)
Ali's career has run contrary to the traditional Pakistani narrative of youngsters being thrown into the deep end. The opener made his Pakistan debut at 31 after 12 years and 7116 runs in first-class cricket. And he scored hundreds in both his maiden ODI and Test - 112 against Australia in an ODI in Dubai and then 109 not out against Sri Lanka in Rawalpindi, in the first Test played in Pakistan in ten years. He followed that up with 174 in a massive win in the second Test. At the end of the year, he averaged 85 in six matches across formats.
Rahkeem Cornwall (West Indies)
Tests: 13 wickets at 22.61 (2 matches)
Offspinner "Big Jim" Cornwall played only two Tests in 2019 but he took a ten-wicket haul in one of them. On debut, against India in Kingston, he started with a three-for. Then against Afghanistan in Lucknow, he took seven in an innings in a masterful display of accuracy and control over line and length; most of his wickets came off balls that spun little or less than what the batsmen expected. Three years previously Cornwall had had the measure of Virat Kohli in a tour match where he took a five-for - so much so that Kohli specifically asked to be able to train against him ahead of the 2019 series. It paid off, in that the Indian captain didn't lose his wicket to Cornwall in Jamaica. It was a different story for three of his team-mates.
Navdeep Saini (India)
ODIs: 2 wickets at 29.00 (1 match)
T20Is: 6 wickets at SR 17.00 (5 matches)
From being a net bowler a few days before his international debut, Saini made the step up to bowling at T20I master blasters West Indies in Lauderhill as if he were a veteran, cranking up the pace and accounting for Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer and Kieron Pollard - that last wicket in a maiden 20th over. In his first ODI, at home against West Indies, Saini delivered two meaty blows in the middle of the innings, getting Hetmyer with a short one again and then cleaning Roston Chase up in his next over with a fierce yorker. Although space on India's fast-bowling bench has been at a premium in recent months, Saini looks set to be a potential addition to the line-up in the days ahead.
Jofra Archer (England)
Tests: 30 wickets at 27.40 (7 matches)
ODIs: 23 wickets at 24.73 (14 matches)
T20Is: 2 wickets at SR 12.00 (1 match)
Archer sauntered into the England side nearly halfway through the year and played a crucial role in the triumphant World Cup campaign, leading their wickets chart with 20 victims in 11 games. But he reserved his best for the Ashes, jogging in at Lord's and sending shivers down Australia's spine when he concussed Steven Smith with a rip-roaring bouncer. Here was a bowler wanting to take a side on single-handedly. He finished the drawn series with 22 wickets, proving that life after James Anderson won't be as difficult England might have imagined. The early promise and performances led to him being one of only six England players to receive both Test- and white-ball contracts for the 2019-20 season.
Oshada Fernando (Sri Lanka)
Tests: 277 runs at 46.16 (4 matches)
ODIs: 128 runs at 21.33 (6 matches)
T20Is: 97 runs at SR 132.87 (3 matches)
Fernando was picked as part of a second-string squad to tour Pakistan for T20Is, and his batting contribution in a 3-0 whitewash couldn't be ignored when the full-strength side headed to Australia for T20Is. On debut in Lahore, coming in to bat at 30 for 3, which soon became 58 for 4, he counterattacked to make an unbeaten 48-ball 78 on a fairly sluggish track without really trying to slog the ball. Afterwards, Ashantha de Mel, Sri Lanka's chief selector, likened Fernando's strokeplay to Mahela Jayawardene's. In February Fernando had made a half-century from No. 3 in Sri Lanka's win in the Port Elizabeth Test, and when he was thrust into the opener's slot in the Tests in Pakistan, he showed he belonged at that level with a hundred even as his side crumbled around him in Karachi.
Mark Adair (Ireland)
Tests: 6 wickets at 16.33 (1 match)
ODIs: 15 wickets at 33.93 (9 matches)
T20Is: 27 wickets at SR 13.90 (17 matches)
Adair had an unforgettable year, proving there was depth in Ireland's seam-bowling department even after the retirement of Tim Murtagh. In ODIs, he tripped up World Cup-bound Afghanistan with a career-best four-for, and he took six wickets in a 3-0 whitewash of Zimbabwe at home. In the T20 World Cup Qualifier he unsettled Jersey and Nigeria to help Ireland seal a place in the playoffs of the main tournament later this year. On Test debut at Lord's, barely a week after England had been crowned World Cup winners, he complemented Murtagh superbly, dismissing Joe Root and Joe Denly to bundle England out for 85.
Naseem Shah (Pakistan)
Tests: 8 wickets at 32.75 (3 matches)
Shah started the year as a Pakistan Under-19 aspirant from Lower Dir district, where bowling shoes are unheard of. He ended it by bowling Pakistan to a Test victory with a five-for in Karachi. In between, he lost his mother during a tour game in Australia, but stayed on to play, even sending down eight hostile overs in the second innings and dismissing Marcus Harris with a sharp bouncer that got social media oohing and aahing over his smooth action, rhythmic run-up, picture-perfect release and seam position. He also contributed 18 wickets at 19.27 in his four Quaid-e-Azam Trophy matches for Central Punjab, who went on to win the first-class title.
Anrich Nortje (South Africa)
Tests: 6 wickets at 47 (3 matches)
ODIs: 8 wickets at 18.75 (4 matches)
Nortje set pulses racing at the Mzansi Super League in 2018 and his pace, in the high 140s, earned him a contract with Kolkata Knight Riders, but injuries left him sidelined until after the World Cup. When he finally debuted, his ability to run in and bend his back on docile Indian tracks stood out even as South Africa slumped to one Test defeat after another. In what was to be a morale-boosting win over England in Centurion to kick-start a new era under Mark Boucher, Nortje picked up three wickets. More importantly, he showed he could marry high pace with late swing when dismissing Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes in successive overs to flick the game back South Africa's way.
Aminul Islam (Bangladesh)
T20Is: 6 wickets at SR 14.0 (4 matches)
This Aminul (not the former captain of Bangladesh), a leggie, played in the 2018 U-19 World Cup, but was picked out of nowhere to the national team 18 months later when Bangladesh started clamouring for more wristspinners. He impressed immediately, delivering a frugal spell of 2 for 18 in a match-winning debut, against Zimbabwe. That earned him a call-up for the India tour, and once again he played his part, throwing the innings off gear in Delhi with the wickets of KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer when India looked good to get 200.
T20Is: 227 runs at SR 138.41, 4 catches and 1 stumping (7 matches)
In a year of poor results and administrative turmoil in Afghanistan, Gurbaz's emergence came as a breath of fresh air. In Afghanistan's last T20I of the year, he hit a 52-ball 79 to help beat reigning world champions West Indies and seal a 2-1 series win in Lucknow. He played his shots fearlessly, even against fast bowling, which augurs well for the future of Afghanistan's short-format batting in the absence of a dasher like Mohammad Shahzad.
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