India’s captain has reclaimed the award he first won in 2012.
A lot has happened in the life and career of Virat Kohli since he was first named ODI Cricketer of the Year at the ICC Awards as a 24-year-old.
In the five years since receiving that gong he has confirmed his reputation as the best one-day player in the world and, in the opinion of many, developed into the greatest batsman limited-overs cricket has ever seen.
At the age of 29, he has already scored 32 ODI centuries and has his hero Sachin Tendulkar’s all-time record of 49 well and truly in his sights. It is surely just a matter of time before he surpasses the Little Master, particularly if he keeps churning out runs as he did in 2017.
He scored six tons in the format last year, averaging an astonishing 76.84 – his ODI career average now stands at 55.74, the highest ever by a batsman from a Full Member nation – with a strike rate hovering around a run a ball.
It is not only the volume of runs that Kohli scores but the manner in which he scores them, and the situations in which he scores them, that marks him out as a special player. The thrill of the chase seems to bring out the best in India’s captain. He averages 65.29 when his team are batting second and 93.64 when his team successfully chases down a target. In short, when India chase down a total, Kohli has more than likely had a major part to play in it.
His personal highlights in 2017 included hitting 122 from 105 balls as India chased down England’s 350 at Pune and back-to-back centuries against Sri Lanka in Colombo last September. He was similarly prolific in last October’s ODI series versus New Zealand, hitting two tons in three innings.
Early last year Ricky Ponting waxed lyrical about Kohli’s ODI achievements. “Is it too premature to call him the best ever? You can probably say that right now as far as his one-day cricket is concerned,” said the former Australia captain. “His one-day record is outstanding and probably better than anybody that’s ever played the game given how many hundreds he’s made.”
This is the first instance since 2013 that the ODI Cricketer of the Year award has been won by a non-South African, with Quinton de Kock receiving the accolade for 2016 and AB de Villiers winning it in 2014 and 2015.
Kohli faced competition from other ODI star performers such as Pakistan paceman Hasan Ali, Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan and his teammate Rohit Sharma. But there was only ever one winner.