Pakistan’s wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan has been named the Leading T20 Cricketer in the World in the 2022 edition of the Wisden Almanack. Rizwan became the first-ever cricketer in the history of T20 cricket to amass over 2,000 runs in a calendar year who scored 2,036 runs in 45 innings at an average of 56.55 in 2021.
Twenty20 batting is supposed to be a volatile, high-variance occupation: boom-boom or bust. Occasionally, a player produces a purple patch to rise above the hurly-burly. But no one has had a year of such sustained run-scoring as Pakistan’s Mohammad Rizwan. Never mind seeing it well: he was batting as if blessed with foresight. And in a sense he was. After starring in Pakistan’s ten-wicket demolition of India at the T20 World Cup, his clarity of purpose was summed up by a viral video from the ICC that spliced his pre-game routine of visualisation alongside the boundaries he struck during his 55-ball 79.
Rizwan had begun the year uncertain of his place, either for his country or in the Pakistan Super League. “My T20 career looked finished to me,” he said. Before October 2020, he had opened only eight times in T20; a little over a year later, he was one half of Pakistan’s most-successful opening partnership ever, as well as the captain who had led his new team, Multan Sultans, to their first PSL title.
The bare numbers had a formidable heft. Rizwan peeled off 1,326 T20I runs at 73 – breaking the calendar record, set by Ireland’s Paul Stirling in 2019, by almost 600. In all T20 cricket, he made 2,036 at 56. No one – not Chris Gayle, not Virat Kohli, not Rizwan’s opening partner, Babar Azam, who last year scored 1,779 himself – had ever got near 2,000.