Australia paceman Johnson wins ICC award for 2009

Mitchell Johnson has been named Cricketer of the Year by the International Cricket Council. The 27-year-old fast bowler follows India's Rahul Dravid (2004), Andrew Flintoff of England and South Africa's Jacques Kallis (joint winners in 2005), Ricky Ponting of Australia (2006 and 2007) and Shivnarine Chanderpaul (2008) in taking the prestigious Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy.

"I'm really blown away. I am just surprised to be up here," Johnson said. "It has been a great 12 months for our side. We have lost some wonderful players and we have been rebuilding with some young guys in the team and we have played together well."

Johnson said he had been particularly pleased with his improved performance with the bat. "The highlight for me was actually my first century in a Test match. I would be quite happy to wear the tag of all-rounder so I have been pleased with how my batting has come on. Also, winning in South Africa was a huge high for us."

The Indian batsman Gautam Gambhir was named Test Player of the Year. He scored five centuries and four half-centuries at an average of 84.60 during the voting period. Gambhir dedicated the award to his family, saying: "They have been the pillar of strength for me and I hope they continue to help me through my career."

His team-mate and captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, won the ODI Player of the Year award for the second consecutive year. Dhoni averaged 60.43 at a rate of 86.63 runs per 100 balls, with 967 runs in 24 ODIs. Dhoni was also named the captain of both the Test and ODI Teams of the Year, as well as wicketkeeper for both sides.

The Australian fast bowler Peter Siddle was awarded the title of Emerging Player of the Year.

England's Claire Taylor was named Women's Cricketer of the Year after scoring 565 runs at the top of the order and averaging 70.62. Taylor was part of the England side who won the Women's World Cup and the Women's World Twenty20.

In the Champions Trophy, Daniel Vettori is desperate to exceed expectations and lead his New Zealand side beyond the last four when they come up against Pakistan at the Wanderers today.

The Black Caps have a solid history in major competitions, reaching the semi-finals and beyond in eight out of 15 International Cricket Council events, but enter their match against the Asian giants as the underdogs.

However, they have done exceptionally well at the 2009 edition, beating Sri Lanka and England on their way to topping Group B, with their only defeat coming against the hosts South Africa in their tournament opener.

They have effectively been playing knockout cricket since that defeat and their captain is confident the manner of their progress will work in their favour. "It's a much preferable way to go into a semi-final, knowing that we've won two big games," Vettori said. "Maybe in the past, we've sort of scraped through, but I think we've done well. We qualified top and now we can go into the Pakistan game with a lot of confidence.

"For me personally, it would be one of the more satisfying things I could do in my career to lead a New Zealand team to a world final. And then once you get to that stage, you never know what can happen."

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