As we come to the close of the cricketing calendar with still a couple of Test battles remaining, it can be safely said that 2019 has majorly been a year of home domination in Test cricket.
Barring a couple of series where the home side was caught napping in their own conditions, most of the touring sides have found it tough to win Tests overseas.
The only major upset came in the early part of the year when a resurgent Sri Lankan team, riding on the back of some remarkable individual performances, went onto become the first Asian side to win a Test series on the South African soil.
Apart from that, The Ashes ended in a 2-2 draw as Australia came so near, but couldn’t regain the Ashes on foreign soil. Even India defeated a rather inexperienced West Indian outfit in the Caribbean to win the series 2-0.
While most series, besides a few, have been hugely one-sided, it has still seen some of the best batting displays in the course of the past 12 months.
If Steve Smith’s return was the story of the Ashes, along with Ben Stokes riding the England hopes, then it was Kusal Perera who deflated the Proteas on their home soil.
Even Marnus Labuschange was an inspired concussion substitute as he emerged as the next best batsman for the visitors in their successful Ashes campaign.
Taking into account some of the consistent performers with the bat, here’s a look at 3 batsmen who could end as the highest run-scorer in Tests this year:
3. Ben Stokes
This has simply been the year for Ben Stokes as far as his exploits with the bat are concerned. The all-rounder has improved as a batsman and has looked a shade different than the rest of his teammates, especially in Test cricket.
In each of the four wins in Tests for England in 2019, Stokes played a key role in seeing his side across the finishing line.
His efforts with the bat were the only major positive in the Ashes apart from Jofra Archer’s emergence as a Test bowler for England.
He was their ‘Man of the series’ after he delivered both with the bat and the ball. A herculean effort in the Headingley Test to single-handedly snatch victory from the jaws of defeat was a once-in-a-lifetime innings from Stokes.
His total aggregate of 772 runs in ten Tests in 2019, sees him ranked fourth in the list for most runs scored in 2019.
With one match still to go for England this year and the kind of form he’s in, Stokes would fancy himself to breach the 1000-run mark and possibly emerge as the highest run-scorer in Tests this year.
However, he may face tough competition from the below-mentioned players in terms of Test numbers this year.
2. Steve Smith
After a one-year ban from international cricket, when many believed that Steve Smith would no longer be the same batsman, the former Australian skipper has already managed to dismiss such theories as he returned with a greater hunger to bat and score runs for his country.
His first Test series for Australia on his return had a lot at stake as the Aussies were targeting an away Ashes victory.
The No.1 ranked Test batsman proved just too good for the English attack as he became an enigma for the hosts throughout the entire Ashes.
Eventually, England could solve this mystery, but not before Smith registered 774 runs at an average of 110.57 including a double hundred, two centuries and 3 fifties in just 7 innings.
He is well on course to yet again rule 2019 at least in Test cricket. With two Tests still to go for Australia, it is highly likely that Smith might end the year as the highest run-scorer in the longest format.
His teammate Labuschagne might seriously give him a run for his money considering his red-hot form.
1. Marnus Labuschagne
In his 10-Test long career, he’s been quite impressive, already averaging more than 46 with the bat. In his sixth Test playing for Australia, Marnus became the first concussion substitute in the history of Test cricket.
On his debut Ashes appearance at Lord’s, the right-handed batsman showed resilience and notched up his maiden half-century to cement his spot for the next three Test matches.
In the ongoing Pakistan series, the Queensland batsman registered his maiden Test ton at the Gabba and made sure that he made the opportunity count by scoring an excellent 185.
In 2019, Labuschagne has accumulated 829 runs, and will aim to finish the calendar year as the highest run-scorer in Test format.
Australia still have two more matches to play in 2019, and those are the two home Tests against New Zealand.
It will be a great opportunity for Marnus to end this year on a high, and he is first in the list of players with most Test runs in 2019.
Cover credits: Express.co.uk