On the Front Foot: Smith and Dhoni favourites on list of who's who and who's he
Sunday 06 September 2009
The long lists of nominations for the Cricketer of the Year awards are out. They manage to perform the delicate trick of being both a who's who and a who's he. Be honest.
While M S Dhoni or Graeme Smith might have tickled your fancies at times, Martin Guptill and Kemar Roach are unlikely to have made the breast beat. In all, 38 cricketers are up for the four ICC awards – for overall player, Test player, one-day player, emerging player – plus another 14 for the associate and affiliate player.
Of the 14 players who have been listed for the cricketer of the year award, two – Andrew Strauss and Graham Onions (who's he, it might be asked in anywhere but Gateshead) – are English. There are five of the current national captains.
The nearest England might be said to have come to winning it in the past is that their coach, Andy Flower, was world cricketer of the year when captain of Zimbabwe.
Since the present awards were inaugurated in 2004, the winners of the Sir Garfield Sobers award for the world's top cricketer have been Rahul Dravid, Jacques Kallis, Ricky Ponting (twice) and Shiv Chanderpaul. Opinions differ, naturally, and over the same period the 'Wisden' Alamanack's world cricketers have been Shane Warne, Andrew Flintoff, Muttiah Muralitharan, Kallis and Virender Sehwag. Only Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lanka captain, is long-listed for the top award but in no other category.
Maybe the judges are hinting at something, maybe not, for Sangakkara scored 793 Test runs, 798 one-day runs and 194 T20 runs in the nominations period, which coincided neatly with the end of the Ashes. Put your money on Smith or Dhoni.
ICC must act in Windies row
The biggest, saddest, stupidest story in the cricket world is the stand-off between the West Indies players and their employers, the West Indies board. As a result of the dispute, which has led to the unavailability of all the Caribbean's leading players, West Indies are sending what amounts to a second, perhaps third team to the Champions Trophy this month. Not a word of this appears on the International Cricket Council website. It is as if the row, which has been continuing for years and has never had a satisfactory resolution, has not happened. The WICB made another unctuous statement yesterday. The ICC will, of course, say it is up to individual boards and the players. But the Champions Trophy, already much derided, will suffer as a result. The ICC once more looks like a governing body unable to govern.
Finger points to Taufel
If there seem to be a lot of players up for awards – the ceremony is at the Champions Trophy on 1 October – all the elite umpires are nominated in their category. There seems no reason to think that it will not go where it has always gone, to the five-times winner, Simon Taufel. If anybody can topple him it is likely to be one of two Pakistani umpires, Aleem Dar and Asad Rauf, or his fellow Australian Steve Davis.
Jacques of all trades
Talking of Jacques Kallis, a truly genuine and great all-rounder, Nick Jennings wrote to say he was overlooked in the OTFF discussion last week. So he was, only because of the arbitrary rule of averaging 30 with the bat and under 30 with the ball. His figures are 54.16 and 31.09 respectively. And in two recent series against Australia he scored 476 runs at 43 and took 13 wickets at 33. England had better watch out this winter.
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