Pakistan lead Twenty20 nominations
The year 2009 featured the ICC World Twenty20 in England, and with teams fielding their best available sides it is no surprise that five of the six nominations for best batting and bowling in the format for the year are performances from that tournament. Unlike cricket's two other international variations, Twenty20 offers a greater potential for surprise; Australia have not been the best contenders in the shortest format, and three out of the six nominations have them at the receiving end. Pakistan, after distinguishing themselves in Twenty20 cricket by winning the global tournament, have three nominations.
Australia were knocked out early in the World Twenty20, and Chris Gayle, who is among the three shortlisted for batting performances, shared a bulk of the responsibility, smashing a blistering 88 including two monstrous sixes off Brett Lee at The Oval to inflict a dispiriting defeat. But West Indies were unable to overcome Tillakaratne Dilshan in the semi-final, as he smote an unbeaten 96, the highest score in the competition, to post what proved an adequate 158. His trademark ramp shot was yet another example of the innovations wrought by Twenty20 cricket. In the other semi-final, against South Africa, Shahid Afridi chipped in with a match-winning display, scoring a 34-ball 51 to help Pakistan recover to a competitive total after a shaky start, and bagged two wickets to seal their place in the final which they went on to win.
Umar Gul leads the bowling nominations with two entries, one from the World Twenty20. He finished with an extraordinary 5 for 6 against New Zealand at The Oval, leaving the batsmen clueless with his swing and accuracy to shut them out for 99. Daniel Vettori said he had "never seen someone reverse the ball after 12 overs". Australia failed to measure up to Gul, as he grabbed 4 for 8 in Dubai to dismiss the opposition for 108 after they had started on a promising note. And finally, Ajantha Mendis, who, like he had done against India in a Test series, cut through Australia's line-up, which was facing him for the first time. He picked up 3 for 20 to restrict them to 159, which Sri Lanka overhauled.
The top three in each category were drawn on basis of votes from a 14-member jury that includes some of the leading cricket experts in the world and Cricinfo's senior editors.
A departure from the usual year-end awards looking at overall performances, ESPNCricinfo's honours are in two categories: a jury-based award looking at the year's best batting and bowling performances and a stats-based award using numbers from Cricinfo's extensive database. The winners for all the awards will be announced on February 19.