|ICC Champions Trophy 2017|
|Venues: The Oval, Edgbaston, Cardiff. Dates: 1-18 June|
|Coverage: Highlights every evening on BBC Two, ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra; in-play highlights and text commentary on the BBC Sport website|
India’s Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni, and Australia bowler Mitchell Starc, are the best players in the world – according to a BBC Sport survey of world cricket’s captains.
With eight of the world’s top nations in England and Wales for the Champions Trophy, we asked the one-day captain of each competing nation to vote for their top three batsmen, bowlers and wicketkeepers in world cricket, taking into account all formats.
Completing our survey on behalf of their team-mates, captains were not allowed to vote for players from their own country and their top selection would be worth three points, their second selection two points and their third selection in a category one point.
Australia, Bangladesh, England, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa all took part but, despite repeated attempts to get their responses, India and Sri Lanka did not meet the deadline.
The verdict, however, was conclusive…
Arise, King Kohli
For years, cricket fans bickered over the relative merits of Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara, but now there are a number of run machines who can realistically lay claim to being the best in the world – the likes of England’s Joe Root, New Zealand’s Kane Williamson and Australia’s Steve Smith.
One man stood out among his peers, however: Virat Kohli.
With 43 international centuries to his name at the age of 28, and four Test scores of 200 or more in the past 12 months, it is perhaps no surprise that three of his fellow captains nominated him as the best in the world with the other three respondents marking him as second best.
Two of those other number one votes went to South Africa’s dynamic run machine AB de Villiers, with New Zealand’s Kane Williamson earning the other.
England and Australia captains Joe Root and Steve Smith earned two nominations each for third place.
Analysis by BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew: “Kohli is the most unflappable chaser of runs there’s ever been. I don’t know how he does it. He never shows any anxiety or pressure when chasing totals, when the pressure is actually really on. It’s extraordinary.
“He has a calculating mind that allows him to switch off from everything that’s going on around him and just bat. I don’t think there has been anyone else like him for his ability to chase runs.”
Starc head and shoulders above the rest
The most convincing winner in our survey was Australia’s left-arm quick Mitchell Starc. Four world captains had him as their first pick, with the other (Australia couldn’t vote for him, remember) having him second to South Africa’s Dale Steyn.
Chris Woakes received the solitary third-place vote for an England bowler, while Starc’s fellow left-armer from New Zealand, Trent Boult, was a popular pick for second and third place (receiving four nominations).
With six-wicket hauls on three continents in Test cricket, 27-year-old Starc is now the spearhead of an impressive Australian pace attack also including Josh Hazlewood (one vote for third place), Pat Cummins and James Pattinson.
Analysis by BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew: “If there’s swing around, Starc moves the white ball. He’s got great pace and a searing yorker. He’s got all the attributes for a one-day fast bowler. He knocks people over and is particularly brutal with the tail. He’s definitely the standout fast bowler in the world.”
Dhoni keeps number one spot
He may be 35 now, but India’s iconic wicketkeeper MS Dhoni continues to strike fear into the opposition with his innovative, powerful batting and wicketkeeping skills.
Dhoni has handed over the captaincy to Virat Kohli now and he no longer plays Test cricket, but his one-day skills remain razor-sharp – emphasised by his sparkling 134 against England in January.
He does have a rival for his crown, though, with South Africa’s Quinton de Kock earning just as many nominations – although, crucially, not as many first-choice picks.
England’s Jos Buttler was a popular choice, while his team-mate Jonny Bairstow also received a vote.
This category was a two-horse race though – and World Cup, World T20 and Champions Trophy winner Dhoni, in fitting style, was triumphant.
Analysis by BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew: “I don’t think he’s necessarily the best wicketkeeper, but it’s the all-round package that he brings. The innings he played in the 2011 World Cup final was astonishing. He hits the ball in unusual places with a lot of bottom hand. I also like the way he plays the game. He’s a positive cricketer. He would never claim to be a great keeper, but he’s more than fulfilled the job he’s been asked to do.”
Are the captains right?
Who gets your vote? Pick your top three batsman, bowlers and wicketkeepers in world cricket – only players nominated in this survey are available – and share it with your friends and on social media, using #bbccricket.