On the Front Foot: Mitch is leading man but Dhoni a no-show as stars fail to come out

Imagine the Oscars without the stars. The ICC awards ceremony was a bit like that the other night – not bereft exactly, but not overflowing with autograph opportunities on the red carpet. One of the significant winners did not show. MS Dhoni, one-day player of the year and named as captain of both the one-day and Test teams of the year, had flown home to India after the Champions Trophy. Next thing you know, Kate Winslet will give her excuses at the Academy Awards. Players in general were thin on the ground at the Johannesburg ceremony. Only Andrew Strauss and Graham Onions turned up from England and they were both nominated for prizes. Neither won, Strauss being unlucky in the world player and Test player categories. Mitchell Johnson is the new world player of the year, remarkable considering it was his breakthrough year and he has played only 26 Tests. Like being best actor after appearing in, say, two films. Considering the year he has had there was a case for Strauss being named captain of the Test team. But then Graeme Smith, of South Africa, had a case too. It was intended to be a glittering ceremony, although Ravi Shastri, worthy though he was as the presenter, is no Billy Crystal.

Finger points to Dar

There was a shock when the umpire of the year was announced. For the first time it was not Simon Taufel, who had won the award on all five previous occasions. Aleem Dar usurped his crown and deserved the nod this time. He was clearly touched by the recognition. Like all the best umpires he is calm and barely noticed but his decision-making is clear and reliable. Asked how he prepared for matches, Aleem said that when he goes home to Pakistan he still plays for his club side, which he thinks is important to helping him stand. A true man of cricket.

Taylor made for golden girls

Claire Taylor became the second England cricketer to be world women's player of the year. She follows her captain, Charlotte Edwards, who won last year. It was impossible to overlook Taylor and the England side generally have been extraordinary this year, on and off the field. When they won the World Cup, they gave – without publicity – half their prize money to charity.

Bresnan tweet worth weight

How long the England team can continue to be tweeters is open to doubt. Tim Bresnan had to apologise last week after he was rude to a fan who had offended him about his weight. Bresnan's chums in the England team, especially Graeme Swann, have been ragging him on Twitter, the ubiquitous social network site, about him being a porker. When an unknown third party joined in the fun by placing Bresnan's head on an obese body, the Pontefract all-rounder snapped. He was rude to the mystery contributor and in some newspapers it was said he called him a ****. Bresnan was concerned this would be taken as calling him a ****, (there is no worse an insult) and was anxiously verifying to pals that he had in fact called the fellow a knob. Bresnan is not fat, it is said, merely stocky. But thanks to Swann's continual public joshing he will always be the fat boy from Pontefract.

s.brenkley@independent.co.uk

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