The best 30 players in English cricket right now – The Telegraph

England have hit some pretty big highs in 2022 but which players ended the year right at the peak?
It’s been a year of contrasting fortunes for the England men’s cricket team. 
On the back of a devastating Ashes loss, the Test side went on to lose in the West Indies precipitating the departure or Joe Root as captain. 
Yet from the ashes [excuse the pun] rose the phoenix. Under new captain Ben Stokes, England reeled off a nine wins in ten matches advertising an aggressive and enterprising style of Test cricket rarely seen on these or any other shores.
Pakistan, India, South African have already fallen foul of ‘Bazball’ and with a tour of New Zealand and a home Ashes series on the horizon, things could not be looking rosier. 
With England’s remarkable red-ball u-turn fresh in the mind, it would be easy to forget that it’s been another superb season for the white-ball side.
While 50-over cricket has taken a bit of back seat, England have climbed to the top of the mountain in T20 cricket – winning the World Cup in Australia. 
Forgotten man as others emerged in the summer but Stokes is a big fan and his batting suits this Test side. Back for New Zealand tour. 
Faded due to injury as the World T20 progressed and missed the final. Always clinging on to his place in the side despite a fine record.
Remains integral to the T20 side and bowled two tough spells in the final and semi despite injury restricting him to one game previously. 
Promising Test debut although he looked exhausted by the end of his second game in Multan. Inventive and aggressive batsman determined to work on his off-spin and be an all-format player.
It was a shame to see him suffer in 2022 with bad form and rock-bottom morale. He has always been a selfless, streaky player who runs hot and cold. 
He is back and England are a stronger T20 side with him in it. Fitted back into the squad easily and appears to have grown up during his exile. 
Can he live up to the start? The coach says he can “wow the world”. It is a lot to live up to but with a good googly, decent control when he is in rhythm and if he undergoes a few technical tweaks to make his leg break more effective then Brendon McCullum may be proved right.
Easy to forget he was the young player to emerge last summer. Relentless line and length and the stamina to bowl long spells, he will be back in contention in English conditions.
Back for the New Zealand Test tour and if he can stay on the park he offers an alternative in the Ashes series to Wood and Archer to keep up the pace barrage.
Shame he did not fancy Test return in Pakistan but understandable as he enters the final stages of a fine career. Fine record in India with the bat makes him an important World Cup figure.
Remains a very handy bowler in English conditions. Missed the Test summer and Bazball revolution through injury but his return bolsters Ashes options.
An excellent return in Pakistan, and he now has the chance in New Zealand to establish his place for the Ashes. Has matured into a senior pro who is much better equipped to handle the pressures of Test cricket.
It feels like 2023 will be the year when he really establishes his place in both white ball teams if given the opportunity. Powerful hitting combined with tenacious competitive instinct make him a natural in this England white ball team.
Arguably the best in the world with the gloves and England do seem a more rounded team with him in the side. Will he keep his place for the Ashes with England fitting both Brook and Bairstow in the side?
It was a tough year at times for Rashid but he ended on a high at the World T20 with big performances in the semi and final.
His career will always be linked to Stokes. Under Root he only played when Stokes was fit. Now Stokes is captain, he has been entrusted as the No 1 spinner, constantly backed by being brought on early and given attacking fields, urging him to be a strike bowler rather than contain. 
He continues to frustrate and always will because consistency will never come easy to him but the pace of the Australian attack may suit him, especially if next summer’s Duke balls turn out to be an unresponsive batch and do not swing or seam too much. 
Played all Tests last summer and also embraced the fuller length and less protection in the field. Revelled as the Nighthawk, giving him licence to swing the bat. Robinson is now ahead of him in the pecking order and life as a skilled broadcaster beckons after one last Ashes series.
Injury blighted his Test debut and you wonder if his chance has gone but with a global tournament every year now, Livingstone will be crucial to England’s chances of silverware with his batting and leg spin/off spin mix. 
Injury prevented him playing Test cricket but gave him the time to work on his death bowling skills. Morphing from ‘pitch it up’ new ball bowler to slower ball bouncer merchant helped him become the most expensive ever purchase in an IPL auction. Still only 24, there is a role in Test cricket too.
Says he no longer fears getting out and it shows. There is a nice strut about his batting now at No 3 and he is growing in maturity under Ben Stokes’ management to emerge as a potential captain of the future. 
About the only England player to emerge from the Ashes tour with his reputation enhanced. Stokes will use him sparingly this summer in short bursts to give Australia a taste of what it is like to be peppered. 
What a three months he enjoyed – World Cup winner, Test match star and IPL millionaire. His batting electrified the Pakistan tour as he exemplified the skills of modern, attacking batsmanship suited to all formats.
Has not played a Test for two years and elbow operations, as well as a stress fracture in his back, probably should see him further down the list but if he comes back and bowls like the wind then this England Test side will be complete. 
Led England to glory in the Twenty20 World Cup after a difficult start as captain last summer as the team recovered from the shock of Eoin Morgan’s retirement. Buttler shares Morgan’s steel but is less stubborn and his decision to bring back Hales proved a mature approach.
Started the year backing away and having his stumps detonated as the last Ashes wicket to fall. His fitness and attitude were questioned publicly and he was at a crossroads. One chat with Stokes changed everything. Fitter, leaner and stronger, he played all three Tests in Pakistan and with his skill he may well be the Ashes hero. 
Dropped for the West Indies tour and worried he’d be the scapegoat for Ashes hammering. Maybe it just fired those competitive juices when they were starting to wane. Bought into attacking lengths and fields, and exudes the enthusiasm of a 20-year-old than a 40-year-old. 
Slightly forgotten figure in Pakistan but without him there would be no Bazball. This belligerent competitor saved his career with a hundred in Sydney before moving to the next level in the summer starting with a sensational hundred at Trent Bridge that proved something was stirring in English cricket. Fingers crossed for broken leg recovery.
Reborn without pressure of captaincy. His hundred in the run chase against New Zealand at Lord’s sparked England’s Test renaissance. Quiet Pakistan tour but still cracked five hundreds in 2022.
Who else? The undisputed king of English cricket. His leadership, astute tactical brain, clear-eyed strategy, intelligent man-management skills combined with a hint of menace, when added to the fact he can bat at any pace, bowl good pitch up swing or reel off 12 overs of bouncers and can field anywhere makes him one of the most influential English cricketers of all time. Bring on Australia.
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