January 14, 2010

The best of 2009

Players from three teams share the prizes in the third edition of the ESPNcricinfo Awards

Virender Sehwag, Jerome Taylor, Sachin Tendulkar, Shahid Afridi, Chris Gayle and Umar Gul are the winners of the ESPNcricinfo Awards for 2009.

This is the third edition of the awards, which are voted on by a jury of former cricket writers, commentators and Cricinfo's senior editors. Shortlists for the batting and bowling performances in each of the three international formats were announced in January.

Sehwag won the Test batting prize for the second year in a row, for his 293 against Sri Lanka. Taylor's 5 for 11 against England took the bowling award. Tendulkar's 175 in a losing cause against Australia was the winner in the ODI batting category, and Afridi's career-best, match-winning 6 for 38, also against Australia, was the ODI bowling winner. In Twenty20, Umar Gul, who had two performances nominated in the shortlist, took the bowling prize, and Gayle the batting award for his 88 in the World Twenty20.

The ESPNcricinfo Awards have two components: the performance awards, described above, and the Statsguru Awards, based on hard statistical data. The list of winners in the Statsguru Awards, which go beyond runs scored, wickets taken or batting average, and are based on detailed data analyses of performances in 2009, are here. Among the winners: Gautam Gambhir, who was Batsman of the Year, based on a score arrived at by adding Test batting average to ODI batting index (batting average multiplied by strike rate) and Test Batsman of the Year. Sehwag was the ODI Batsman of the Year. The bowling awards went to Stuart Broad (Bowler of the Year), Mitchell Johnson (Test Bowler) and James Anderson (ODI Bowler). Other Statsguru Awards winners included Shane Watson (Most Consistent Test Batsman), Tillakaratne Dilshan (Most Runs in Test Wins), and Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder (ODI Opening Batting Pair of the Year).

Cricinfo users were invited to vote on the shortlists for the jury awards, and their picks mirrored the jury's in every category but one - Twenty20 batting, where a majority picked Tillakaratne Dilshan's unbeaten 96 in the semi-final of the World Twenty20.

Players from India and England led the nominations for the jury awards this year. Nine performances from each of those two teams featured across the six shortlists, followed by Pakistan with eight, Australia with seven, Sri Lanka and New Zealand with six apiece, West Indies with five, and South Africa with three. The awards were evenly shared between three teams - Pakistan, India and West Indies, who each accounted for two awards.

Sambit Bal, editor of Cricinfo, said that the awards are a small way to show gratitude to the people the site owes its existence to. "2009 was a great example of how all the three forms can co-exist. There was an exciting World Twenty20, a tight and well-contested Champions Trophy, and some wonderful Test cricket. Consequently, the jury had a lot to choose from."