There are no surprises about the two players atop the international Most Valuable Player rankings this year, although it may trip up many a punter to select Kane Williamson ahead of Brendon McCullum. But that is exactly how it stands.
McCullum has been remarkable with a well-documented record breaking double century against Pakistan and an agonisingly close 195 in Test cricket’s return to Christchurch during this year’s MVP season (starting with the tour to the West Indies).
While Williamson has been less potent at the crease, he has been no less effective with four centuries (113, 161 against West Indies, 192 alongside McCullum against Pakistan, and a maiden double of 242 not out against Sri Lanka at the Basin).
In fact in the Test match season McCullum only finished 6th on the Fujitsu Heat Pumps MVP table, which the captain will gladly accept as this Blackcaps team is about exactly that – the team. A number of players have performed well, in fact most are contributing regularly, but the three bowlers in the top 5 Test MVP rankings – Mark Craig (31 wickets), Tim Southee (24) and Trent Boult (28) – have been integral to the team’s Test success through the period.
MVP Top 5 – Test matches
1. Kane Williamson 203.68
2. Mark Craig 177.36
3. Tim Southee 143.79
4. Tom Latham 135.42
5. Trent Boult 135.19
But back to the overall MVP rankings, Williamson is leading the way – by quite a margin - after McCullum was afforded time to rest during the Pakistan ODI series. The weight of games helps Williamson, but even though his is currently on the side line himself due to injury, he leads McCullum in the average MVP points per game category so his position at the summit of the Fujitsu Heat Pumps MVP is more than justified.
With the Cricket World Cup on the horizon we can ‘dream big’ of one of the greatest team prizes in the game, but also acknowledge that the Most Valuable Player race will unwittingly recognise those individuals who have contributed the most often. Let’s hope the collective individual efforts are enough!