With West Indies given the green light to tour England in July, the resumption of international cricket is inching closer.
Several other cricket boards have announced tentative schedules too, as the sportâ€™s brief hiatus veers towards its conclusion.
When cricket does ultimately get under way, there will be several players who will be itching to carry on the solid form they showed in 2019. The breakout stars of 2019 such as Marnus Labuschagne and Rassie van der Dussen are just some of the players who will be keen to prove that there is plenty more to come.
On the other hand, there are players who did not have the best of seasons. These players saw their performances dip significantly after a strong 2018, and they will be desperate to set the record straight once again when the sport returns.
Here, we look at five players with a huge disparity between their performances in 2018 and 2019.
JOS BUTTLER | ENGLAND
2018 was a special year for Jos Buttler, with the England batting ace truly announcing his arrival as an all-format player. Recalled to the Test set-up after his dazzling displays in the limited-overs formats, Buttler immediately seized his opportunity.
He was pivotal to Englandâ€™s 4-1 series triumph over No1 ranked India with his rearguard heroics alongside Sam Curran. A maiden Test century and six fifties rounded off an excellent year for Buttler, but he was unable to carry that momentum in the year to follow.
In 2019, Buttler was productive in the shorter formats again, though his Test performances suffered heavily. A poor Ashes series was at the centre of his red-ball woes, with two half-centuries on the tour of West Indies being his only saving grace.
If he wants to remain an integral part of the red-ball set-up, the right-hander cannot afford a repeat of his 2019 Test displays.
FAKHAR ZAMAN | PAKISTAN
No other batsman has gone through such a drastic slump in 2019 as Fakhar Zaman did. The swashbuckling opener seemed to have the world at his feet in 2018 as he became the first Pakistan batsman to smash an ODI double ton.
Unfortunately for the left-hander, the heights that he touched in 2018 were undone by the depths he plummeted to in the following year. While he had his moments in the ODI format, he still saw his average drastically drop from 67.31 to 34.15 between the two years.
The worst, though, came in the T20I format where Fakhar could not even manage to average in double figures. A paltry 17 runs across eight innings led to the batsmanâ€™s omission from the Pakistan T20 set up, and he has plenty of work to do if he wants to regain his place in time for the World Cup.
HENRY NICHOLLS | NEW ZEALAND
While it wasnâ€™t a dismal year overall for Henry Nicholls, it was quite the comedown from the lofty standards he set in 2018. In fact, the Kiwi batsman managed to improve his standing in ODI cricket while registering his maiden ton in the format.
However, all the gains that Nicholls made in white-ball cricket were offset by his poor form in the Test format. The left-hander started off 2019 on a strong note, with a century and fifty against Bangladesh at home.
He was unable to sustain those levels in the series to follow against Sri Lanka, England, Australia and India. His last 14 innings in Test cricket have only managed to yield 397 runs at an average of 33. Those numbers are substantially lower than 2018 during which Nicholls managed to average a staggering 73 in the Test format.
For a batsman who was ranked in the top 10 in 2019, Nicholls now finds himself languishing in 20thÂ spot.
TEMBA BAVUMA | SOUTH AFRICA
Between 2016 and 2019, Temba Bavuma made significant strides as a gritty middle-order batsman for South Africa. The diminutive batsman played several important knocks for the Proteas, including an unbeaten 95 against Australia at the Wanderers.
2019, though, wasnâ€™t too kind to Bavuma whose fortunes took a giant beating. The right-hander kicked off the year with a fine 75 against Pakistan before being made to look ordinary in the months to follow.
Seven single-digit scores in his 12 subsequent innings, including three dismissals for ducks punctured Bavumaâ€™s credentials greatly. His struggles, especially in the tour of India, mirrored that of his skipper Faf du Plessis. The poor returns from the two batsmen compounded South Africaâ€™s woes as they limped to a home series defeat against Sri Lanka and were whitewashed emphatically by India.
When cricket does return, Bavuma will need to do more to justify a place in the squad which is already reeling with the retirements of senior stalwarts.
Know more about Sport360 Application