The 50-over format has come in for much criticism because of a packed international schedule and the rise of Twenty20 cricket, but teams are still playing plenty of ODIs. Our best XI for the year is truly an international one, with players from seven different countries making the list.
Amla was the outstanding ODI batsman in 2012 by some distance. He has significantly expanded his range of strokes and has the rare ability to score quickly while still looking elegant and unhurried. He failed to go past 40 in just one of his 9 innings this year and went past 50 six times. His consistency meant South Africa almost always got off to a quick start and he was instrumental in leading them to the top of the ODI rankings (though England have since retaken top spot). He saved his best for the away series against England, where he made 335 runs at an average of 111.66 from four matches. The next best was Ian Bell, who made 181 runs.
10 matches/9 innings/678 runs/highest of 150/84.75 average/90.76 strike-rate/2 hundreds, 4 fifties
That Sri Lanka played the most one-day cricket of any country in 2012 was down to the SLC board needing to make money, but Dilshan took full advantage to be the second leading run-scorer in the format, trailing only his teammate Kumar Sangakkara. He produced with the bat both at home and away in South Africa and Australia, and his ability to bowl tidy offspin gives him an extra arrow to his bow.
31 matches/30 innings/1,119 runs/highest of 160/41.44 ave/84.64 strike-rate/4 hundreds, 3 fifties
The only player to rival Amla for consistency and class in 2012. Kohli had a break-out year, becoming India’s best batsman in the format and was one of only three batsmen to make 1000 runs. Like Amla, he made his runs rapidly, proving that you don’t need to slog to succeed in the format. His signature innings came against Sri Lanka in the CB series in Australia in February. After Sri Lanka had posted 320, and with India needing a win to stay alive in the tournament, Kohli orchestrated the chase with a superb, unbeaten 133 that Cricinfo called “an imperious display of strokemaking.”
16 matches/16 innings/1026 runs/highest of 183/73.28 ave/94.21 strike-rate/5 hundreds, 3 fifties
Captaincy has done wonders for Clarke’s batting in the one-day format as well. Never recognised as a particularly prolific limited-overs batsman, Clarke has shown he has the ability to score fluently because of his ability to pierce the field and rotate the strike. He has also learned how to pace an innings and has the ability to bowl left-arm spin if required. He is also our choice for captain.
15 matches/14 innings/656 runs/highest of 117/46.85 ave/82 strike-rate/1 hundred, 5 fifties
If Dhoni has a rival for the best finisher in limited-overs cricket, it is Morgan. The Irishman’s Test career may have stalled but he has established himself as a crucial part of England’s ODI set-up. He anchored multiple chases against Australia and South Africa, scoring at a strike-rate over 100 in each case. But perhaps his best innings came in an ODI against Australia in June, when he made sure to get in before battering the bowlers for 77 from his final 42 deliveries, including three consecutive sixes, two of them off Brett Lee, as England plundered 83 from the final 10 overs.
15 matches/12 inninngs/364 runs/highest of 89/60.66 ave/98.11 strike-rate/2 fifties
Dhoni has had a rough time lately but he is still the best finisher in one-day cricket. And while India has struggled in Tests, things have not been as bad in the ODI arena. His nerveless ability to pace an innings – whether setting a target or chasing one down – is what gets him in the side ahead of AB De Villiers, even though AB is the better batsman.
15 matches/13 innings/411 runs/highest of 58/51.37 ave/86.89 strike-rate/3 fifties
Shane Watson makes this list as an allrounder over West Indies captain Darren Sammy because of his superior bowling. Admittedly, Watson opens the batting for Australia but he can play as a floater in this team, and also double up as a genuine fast bowler, who has a knack for taking crucial wickets.
14 matches/13 innings/377 runs/highest of 66/29.00 ave/73.92 strike-rate/3 fifties
14 matches/13 innings/17 wickets/23.05 ave/4.27 econ/32.2 strike-rate
Finn is the surprise on this list. He was far and away England’s leading one-day bowler, taking 25 wickets at an average of just 21.15. Often wayward in Test cricket, he has found a way to be disciplined in ODIs, giving away just 4.20 runs an over in an era of ever fasting scoring, making him the complete package.
14 matches/13 innings/25 wickets/20 ave/4.20 econ/28.5 strike-rate
Morkel has always been a good one-day bowler and 2012 was no exception. He was South Africa’s leading wicket-taker, and had the best strike-rate and average of anyone who played more than one game. In combination with Finn, would give the team a deadly edge.
11 matches/11 innings/20 wickets/21.15 ave/4.89 econ/25.9 strike-rate
With Watson, Finn and Morkel, playing two spinners is a luxury this team can afford. Ajmal’s stats are almost identical to Narine’s and he was effective in all conditions on all surfaces.
16 matches/15 innings/31 wickets/19.77 ave/4.32 econ/27.4 strike-rate
Batsmen the world over were unable to figure out Narine’s variations. He averaged two wickets a match, gave away less than four runs an over and took his wickets at an average of 17.64 per wicket, which would be exceptional for a fast bowler, leave alone a spinner. Walks into the side.
17 matches/17 innings/34 wickets/17.64 ave/3.66 econ/28.9 strike-rate
Lasith Malinga (12th man)
The leading wicket-taker by some distance but is kept out of the side for the sake of balance. Would be in the playing XI if the conditions favoured seam, with either Narine or Ajmal sitting out.
32 matches/31 innings/47 wickets/32.08 ave/5.66 econ/33.9 strike-rate
Note: Chris Gayle had a less than stellar year by his standards in one-day cricket, while Kevin Pietersen played only four matches, so neither made this list.