I am pleased to present the first annual Limited Overs World Cricket Awards:
Match of the Year:
This is going to come as a surprise to my regular readers, but the match of the year, in my opinion, was not a Test, or even an ODI, it was a Twenty20. And the winner is:
India vs Pakistan, 1st T20I, at Bangalore.
The match really did have everything: two old enemies engaging in a bilateral series for the first time in over four years. It had, in the words of the Cricinfo ball by ball commenter: “Collapses, fightbacks, flare-ups, tension.”
It was India v Pakistan in a T20 under the floodlights in front of 70,000 fans plus millions more worldwide watching on satellite TV, on legal streams, on illegal streams…in the USA, in Australia, in England. The whole of world cricket sat down for three hours to watch. And we were not disappointed.
India v Pakistan, in a T20, under the floodlights. It looked like cricket’s future and its past and its present all at the same time.
The future of cricket depends on this rivalry and on this format. And for that reason alone it deserves this award.
Honorable mention: see next award.
Test of the Year:
I added this category at the last minute because a test match did not win the Match of the Year award.
And the winner is:
England v South Africa, 3rd Test, at Lord’s.
The match went the distance, and it included a spirited final day fight back from the English, though it was in vain in the end.
It was Lord’s in August, number one vs number two, and it ended England’s short and disastrous reign as the number one Test side.
It included a lovely 95 from Jonny Bairstow, a match winning century from Hashim Amla (who was enjoying the summer of his life), and a hard earned and spirited 73 from England’s wicketkeeper, Matt Prior.
The match launched South Africa into the difficult role as the number one Test side, a status which they defended and cemented a few months later in Australia.
Most importantly, the match was final Test of a three Test series, and one could not wonder what these two teams could have done with five or even four tests.
It was a prime example of how three Test series are disappointing and terrible for the Test format overall; and a reminder that three Test series are becoming the norm.
I realize the irony of the above paragraphs considering my Match of the Year was of the format that is supposedly killing Test cricket.
Honorable mention: Australia v South Africa, 2nd Test, at Adelaide Oval
Series of the Year
And the winner is:
The 2012 ICC World Twenty20
This tournament, while not really a series per se, won not because of the cricket itself, but because of its winner: The West Indies. Their first World Cup win since 1979.
Cricket needs a strong West Indies, and here’s hoping this victory inspires another generation of young Caribbean cricketers to pick up the leather and the willow.
And not only did they win it, they won it with style.
Honorable mention: Pakistan v England, Three Test Series
Knock of the Year
Despite picking KP’s knock at Leeds as my second favorite moment on the pitch this year, the winner is:
Hashim Amla’s 311 not out against England at the Oval
I wrote it about it here:
“This 29 year old, quiet, devout young man walked out onto a ground 10,000 miles from his home, that was built 148 years before he was born, and on a perfect July weekend on the far edge of the world’s greatest city, simply batted for 790 minutes, a hair over 13 hours, scoring 311 runs along the way.”
Honorable mention: KP’s 149 against South Africa at Leeds
Team of the Year
This is an easy one:
They went to England as number two, and they left as number one. They then went to Australia and cemented that status.
They did all of the above with grit, courage, style, and spirit – and they did it despite losing their wicketkeeper in a freak accident one day before the first Test in England – and they did it without losing a single Test.
And for a short period over the summer, they were also the number one ODI team.
They played 38 total matches, winning 21, losing 10, drawing five, with two no results.
And they show no signs of slowing down.
Honorable mention: The West Indies
Cricketer of the Year
This is the only controversial pick:
He didn’t score the most runs this year, not by a long shot, that honor went to Michael Clarke’s outstanding 2,251 in all formats, but he did score a lot: the fourth most Test runs (1,051), and the 14th most runs in all formats (1,446).
And his teams did not have the greatest of seasons: England’s struggles in 2012 are well documented, the Delhi Daredevils were knocked out in a preliminary final despite a fine regular season, and his County side, Surrey, finished the campaign trophy-less.
His retirement from one-day cricket, followed by the ECB dropping him from the Test squad, followed by his reinstatement to all formats, goes to show that the power of the national boards is slipping away, while the power of the individual players continues to grow.
KP’s retirement in the future will be looked as the beginning of a player-led revolution.
It was a game changer.
He said to the ECB: I am bigger than you. I am more important than you. You don’t own me. And I don’t need you.
He didn’t score the most runs, his teams didn’t win anything, but his year was by far the most important to the future of the game, and therefore well deserving of this award.
Honorable mention (tie): Michael Clarke, Hashim Amla, and Sachin Tendulkar.