Laxman and Steyn lead nominations
With match-winning innings in three Tests, VVS Laxman has the most nominations for the ESPNcricinfo Awards 2010, the winners for which will be announced on Monday in Bangalore. Laxman faces competition in the Test batting performance of the year category from Alastair Cook, whose unbeaten 235 in the first Ashes Test at the Gabba launched England's victorious campaign, and Hashim Amla, whose 123 in Kolkata, nearly secured a draw for South Africa.
In reflection of the fierce competition between India and South Africa in Tests, South African bowlers cornered three bowling nominations, with Dale Styen having two. Pakistan were in the news for the wrong reasons for most of 2010, but that they had a wonderful year with the ball is backed up by nominations for Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz.
England's James Anderson, ranked No. 3 among Test bowlers, is giving Steyn tough competition. Anderson destroyed Pakistan in the first Test at Trent Bridge with figures of 6 for 17, after he had taken five wickets in the first innings. Mitchell Johnson's searing spell of 6 for 38 in third Ashes Test at the WACA and Mohammad Asif's 6 for 41 in Sydney are also in the running.
In one-day internationals, both the batting and bowling performance of the year have clear frontrunners. Sachin Tendulkar's 200 not out against South Africa in Gwalior, the first double-century in ODIs, is the favourite, though Abdul Razzaq's 72-ball 109 against South Africa in Abu Dhabi, which helped Pakistan chase 287 with a ball to spare, could spring a surprise. In the bowling category, Umar Gul's match-winning spell of 6 for 42 against England at The Oval is a prime contender. Not too far behind are Ryan Harris' two performances: 5 for 19 in Perth, which helped Australia win an ODI against Pakistan for the first time at the WACA, and 5 for 32 against England at The Oval.
The voting trends were closest in the Twenty20 batting category, with hardly anything separating Brendon McCullum's 116 off 56 balls against Australia in Christchurch and Michael Hussey's 60 off 24 balls against Pakistan in the World Twenty20 semi-final. Among bowlers, the battle is between Shaun Tait and Tim Southee. Tait helped Australia clinch a tight victory against Pakistan at the MCG with 3 for 13 in four overs - the only Australian bowler to concede less than six an over in that match. Southee took New Zealand's second Twenty20 hat-trick as he ripped through Pakistan during a spell of 5 for 18 in four overs in Auckland.
The jury for the ESPNcricinfo awards comprises former cricketers Sanjay Manjrekar, Geoff Boycott, Kepler Wessels, Ramiz Raja, Tony Greig, Martin Crowe and Ian Chappell, as well as Sambit Bal, Andrew Miller, Peter English, Osman Samiuddin and Sharda Ugra from ESPNcricinfo.