Friday, October 09, 2009

The ICC Awards

ground reality

Picking one person as the most outstanding performer over a given period in any field – be it music or television or sports – is (usually) a fairly tough decision. And unless the choice is based purely on statistics, it is likely to lead to much controversy. So it wasn't surprising that the 6th annual ICC Awards were marred by criticism even before the first award was handed out, and quite understandably too, as the nominees yielded a number of head-scratchers. Other than the omission of some arguably deserving players, the shortlist, most noticeably, did not include even a single South African cricketer despite the fact that the Proteas had an impressive season and were the number one team in both the Test and ODI rankings at the time (and, were, ironically, the hosts of the ceremony). Consequently, the winners, revealed in a ceremony on the 1st of October in Johannesburg, left out some of the leading countries in the three formats – including Pakistan who were recently crowned the Twenty20 champions. India and Australia dominated the winners' list:
- Cricketer of the Year: Mitchell Johnson (Australia)
The other nominees were: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (India), Gautam Gambhir (India), and Andrew Strauss (England)
- Test Player of the Year: Gautam Gambhir (India)
The other nominees were: Mitchell Johnson (Australia), Thilan Samaraweera (Sri Lanka), Andrew Strauss (England)
- ODI Player of the Year: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (India)
The other nominees were: Shivnarine Chanderpaul (WI), Virender Sehwag (India), Yuvraj Singh (India)
- Emerging Player of the Year: Peter Siddle (Australia)
The other nominees were: Ben Hilfenhaus (Australia), Graham Onions (England), Jesse Ryder (New Zealand)
- Associate and Affiliate Player of the Year: William Porterfield (Ireland)
The other nominees were: Rizwan Cheema (Canada), Ryan ten Doeschate (Netherlands), Edgar Schiferli (Netherlands)
- Twenty20 International Performance of the Year: Tillakaratne Dilshan (Sri Lanka)
The other nominees were: Pakistan's Shahid Afridi and Umar Gul, and West Indies' Chris Gayle
- Women's Cricketer of the Year: Claire Taylor (England)
The other nominees were: Charlotte Edwards (Eng), Shelley Nitschke (Aus)

Pakistan's Aleem Dar was declared the Umpire of the Year, marking the first time the award did not go to Australia's Simon Taufel who won the honour five years in a row. The 41-year-old Dar made his international debut as an umpire in 2000 and became part of the ICC Elite Umpire Panel in 2004. Pakistan's Asad Rauf was also in the running for the award.

The Spirit of Cricket award went to New Zealand for upholding the spirit of the game. The ceremony also announced the teams of the year, which included only one Pakistani player (Umar Gul), and also overlooked some international names like Graeme Smith and Daniel Vettori.

- World Test Team of the Year: Gautam Gambhir (India), Andrew Strauss (England), AB de Villiers (South Africa), Sachin Tendulkar (India), Thilan Samaraweera (Sri Lanka), Michael Clarke (Australia), MS Dhoni (India, captain & wicketkeeper), Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh), Mitchell Johnson (Australia), Stuart Broad (England), Dale Steyn (South Africa), Harbhajan Singh (India, 12th man)
- World ODI Team of the Year: Virender Sehwag (India), Chris Gayle (West Indies), Kevin Pietersen (England), Tillakaratne Dilshan (Sri Lanka), Yuvraj Singh (India), Martin Guptill (New Zealand), MS Dhoni (India, captain, WK), Andrew Flintoff (England), Nuwan Kulasekara (Sri Lanka), Ajantha Mendis (Sri Lanka), Umar Gul (Pakistan), 12th man: Thilan Thushara (Sri Lanka)

All in all, (and not to take anything away from the players who won, because they certainly did put on some splendid performances), the awards could benefit from a better selection process. And while one can even argue that the whole premise of choosing one player over all the others is in itself flawed, if they insist on having such ceremonies, coming up with a system that recognises the performances of players in all the leading cricketing countries, and is more reflective of the ICC rankings, might help add more credibility to this event.


Voting process
The nominees (a long list of around 14 players in each category) were decided by a panel including Bob Taylor (England), Anil Kumble (India), Mudassar Nazar (Pakistan) and Stephen Fleming (New Zealand), and chaired by former West Indian captain Clive Lloyd.
- A panel of 25 members – 11 eminent former players, 11 media representatives, along with Clive Lloyd, Alan Hurst and Billy Bowden – voted for their top three choices in each category. Those votes were tabulated to reveal the shortlist; the winners were not revealed until the award ceremony.
- The performance period taken into account was August 13, 2008 to August 24, 2009.
(The nomination and selection process has been criticised by voting panel member Neil Manthorp as flawed due to being "too hard to do the research and to put in the required time to make considered and balanced judgements". "By putting 12 or 14 names forward," he wrote, "they are simply obfuscating the issue and making it nigh on impossible to give equal and fair consideration to all the nominees.")


Hall of Fame
Launched earlier this year as part of the ICC's centenary celebrations, the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame recognises the "achievements of the legends of the game from cricket's long and illustrious history". Initially 55 players – including Pakistan's Javed Miandad, Hanif Mohammad, and Imran Khan – were induced, with more to be added each year during the ICC Awards ceremony. The cricketers inducted during this year's ceremony are:
- Steve Waugh (Australia)
- Clarrie Grimmett (Australia)
- Victor Trumper (Australia)
- Wasim Akram (Pakistan)
- Herbert Sutcliffe (England)

- By Sameen Amer

Us Magazine, The News - 9th October, 2009