English cricket seems to have had its nose put out of place by the fact Graeme Swann was initially overlooked for the International Cricket Council's 16-man list of potential Cricketers of the Year, and that very few England players were named in any of the longlists. As a member of the five-man panel that put names forward for the ICC's initial longlists I have some sympathy for Swann, who has had an extremely good year. Indeed, Swann was named as a potential Test Player of the Year and is likely to be picked in the Test Team of the Year, so it can hardly be said that he was totally ignored.
But the blinkered and ill-informed views of the most vocal critics have caused me amusement. Some did not even get the dates of the judging period right, which, incidently, do not include last summer's memorable Ashes win over Australia. Nasser Hussain, the former England captain, wonders why Australia's Doug Bollinger was initially in the list ahead of Swann and James Anderson. Well the answer is because Bollinger took 42 Test wickets at an average of 22.71 and 37 one-day international wickets at 21.59 during the judging period. All these wickets were taken against the top eight sides in the world – not Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
Swann took 78 wickets in these two forms of the game but 32 of them were against Bangladesh. Against the top sides Anderson performed extremely well in Tests but there were 15 ODI bowlers with a better average than him.
Many England supporters may not realise that there has been outstanding cricket played by other countries since 23 August 2009. Sachin Tendulkar has scored almost 2,000 runs in Test and ODI cricket at an average of over 73. India's Virender Sehwag scored 1,282 Test runs at an average of 85.46 and South Africa's Hashim Amla accumulated 1,720 runs in both forms of the game at an average of more than 63. India's V V S Laxman along with Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakarra and Thilan Samaraweera averaged more than 78 in Tests too. England's top Test and ODI run scorer in the past 12 months has been Paul Collingwood with 1,543 at an average of 48.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India's wicketkeeping captain, and Shane Watson, Australia's all-rounder also did not have bad years. Dhoni scored over 1,600 runs at an average of 58 and Watson scored almost 2,200 runs at an average of 43 and took 72 wickets at 21.5 apiece.
And what of the bowlers. South Africa's Dale Steyn took 41 Test wickets against the big boys at an average of 20.78 and Pakistan's Mohammad Asif took 51 at 23. Australia's Mitchell Johnson had a shocker in last summer's Ashes but in the last 12 months he took 85 Test and ODI wickets.
England should actually take encouragement from the fact that they have achieved success and not had too many outstanding individual performances. It highlights that they have played as a team with everyone contributing, and I am sure this is the way Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower want it. The best and most consistent sides are not solely reliant on the performances of a couple of superstars, they contain players who perform well on a regular basis.
Angus Fraser is an ICC panel memberReuse content