September 6, 2012

The importance of cricket awards shows

You've got to have them, but what do you do when a must-have nominee isn't shortlisted?
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In this fractured, divided world, if there's one thing common to all cultures, besides a tendency to want to tell other human beings how to live and a preference for indoor lavatories, it is the belief in the self-evident truth that every form of human endeavour, no matter how trivial, should be entitled to its own annual awards ceremony. Preferably with a band. And champagne.

And why not? An awards bash adds a sprinkle of glitter to our mundane existence. At this very moment, Bangalore's Champion Sewerage Operative 2012 is settling down for the night with his trophy, and the woman who recently earned the title of Basingstoke and District Driving Instructor of the Year is speeding to work, nursing a slight headache and humming "We are the Champions" as she jumps another red light.

The cult of the award ceremony is everywhere. The talent shows that infest our TV schedules are nothing more than extended versions of the bit in the Oscars when an actress fresh out of rehab takes three minutes to open the golden envelope, giggles, drops the piece of card, picks it up, turns it the right way round, falls over, is helped to her feet and then finally, with the support of her co-presenter, puts us out of our agony and tells us who has won the Oscar for best flatulence-based humour.

Of course, the beauty of a sports award ceremony is that, unlike a celebrity talent show, the winners are likely to be talented. You don't get to be ICC Test Player of the Year just because you have a heart-rending back story involving a pet budgie who needs the prize money to fund his cosmetic beak surgery or because you've got a winning smile, a bubbly personality and a very short dress.

Cricket is particularly fertile ground for an awards ceremony. For example, the vote for the ICC's Team of the Year is an organic sprouting from the peculiar compost that is the cricket lover's insatiable desire to compile imaginary XIs. We've all done it. My Poets XI had Homer opening the batting on the grounds of seniority, although if the rumours about his eyesight were true, he might struggle against the new ball. And to be frank, I'm not sure that Dylan Thomas would really have been much of a fast-medium seamer, more of a slow-stagger and vomiter.

Just like in the real world (or the internet, as we call it) sometimes people disagree with the ICC choices, although their squabbles usually come to end with bow-ties, hired tuxedos and dignified applause rather than capital-letter-strewn libel threats, strings of heavily moderated expletives and face-palm smileys.

Should Saeed Ajmal be on the short list for ICC Test Player of the Year? Well, he would be on mine. But then, what do I know? I didn't vote Conservative at the last election. I thought the Olympic logo looked like an accident at a jigsaw factory. And I definitely wouldn't have gone with that hat if it were my Jubilee. What can you do? People made these decisions and people are, in my experience, an untrustworthy lot.

Happily a couple of solutions present themselves. Either the ICC reruns the process, replacing the original electorate with a new, independent voting panel made up of Simon Cowell, Beyonce, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Sourav Ganguly's hair. Or they just quietly ask Clive Lloyd to write, "and S Ajmal" in his bestest handwriting at the bottom of the list. Problem solved.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • hasan on September 7, 2012, 13:32 GMT

    For all those who are saying that awards are not important, yeah right, it really isnt. May be thats why England and Wales Cricket Board went out of line and ended up doing intense labour to get Graeme Swann on that 2010 list. So all the english fans and sympathizers who think awards are not so important, better inquire the English Board first as to why they took such irrational and unimportant thing so seriously?

    I think this stand off b/w PCB and ICC is really gonna test the lobbying strength of PCB on international scene. Whether they can convince others to go with them and eventually force ICC to change the decision (like in 2010 for swann) or ICC will keep on ignoring it (as they have stated) and prove that PCB is not strong enough.

  • hasan on September 7, 2012, 13:32 GMT

    For all those who are saying that awards are not important, yeah right, it really isnt. May be thats why England and Wales Cricket Board went out of line and ended up doing intense labour to get Graeme Swann on that 2010 list. So all the english fans and sympathizers who think awards are not so important, better inquire the English Board first as to why they took such irrational and unimportant thing so seriously?

    I think this stand off b/w PCB and ICC is really gonna test the lobbying strength of PCB on international scene. Whether they can convince others to go with them and eventually force ICC to change the decision (like in 2010 for swann) or ICC will keep on ignoring it (as they have stated) and prove that PCB is not strong enough.

  • vivek mishra on September 7, 2012, 10:58 GMT

    thanks andrew,saeed's non inclusion warranted this article. smacks of bias against third world. AWARD OR NO AWARD...AJMAL'S GETTIN EM ALL:)

  • Abdul Quddus on September 7, 2012, 7:35 GMT

    Despite of this ceremony and not being nominated while last year Swann was nominated with same rule by ICC I think Saeed Ajmal is currently the best spinner for me. I don't know about others thought and taking him lightly but I appreciate PCB's decision to stand by their player as were done by ECB last year. Though no change in the list is now confirmed we (people) here in Pakistan are not feeling good of this decision (whether you like it or not).

  • Vishnu Mohan on September 7, 2012, 7:33 GMT

    Why, oh why, do they even have to give out such awards in cricket? As Amla said, they have him the second best batter in the world, when he felt he wasn't the second best even in his team. Lets just play cricket. And Sir Hughes, another well written piece

    @wasif- know much English? Then maybe you can say in which line Andrew was critising about the whining of PCB

  • Ian on September 7, 2012, 6:55 GMT

    I Love the acknowladgement to how truly awful current tv talent shows are. i dont really care who wins the award, i just want to watch cricket.

  • Waqar Qazi on September 7, 2012, 5:20 GMT

    Why shouldn't we criticize ICC? It's not about Ajmal inclusion, it's about ICC's handling of the matters? This is the second time in a few years when an 'oversight' has happened on such an important selection? does it mean ICC has problems in selecting the right people for the job? We say PCB is just whining but it is whining rightly! maybe they are not helping Ajmal with the award but rather helping ICC getting better. Then again look at the handling of the matter by ICC; they tried to put the blame on the two paksitanis in the jury like everyone was lobbying for his countryman and the pakistanis didnt and why are there only two pakistanis in the jury?

  • Yasir on September 7, 2012, 4:13 GMT

    It’s a bit sad to see that a well deserving cricketer is not getting his due share – apart from stats, his greatness can be summed-up by just following the pre series interviews of all the captains that have played Pakistan in the last one and half year – everyone has mentioned repeatedly Ajmal as a key threat (just ask Aussies if you don’t trust me). Pre series Hype around Ajmal is far more than any of the nominated players (though all deserving in my humble opinion)

  • SouthPaw on September 7, 2012, 4:10 GMT

    @Hughes: You could have saved a lot of time (yours and readers') by posting just the last 3 paragraphs. The preamble, if one can call it that, is uninspired and perhaps even noisome. You have done better before!

  • maheshq on September 7, 2012, 2:11 GMT

    Which would you rather have? The world's best spinner or the winner of some arbitrary award? I know what I'd choose....

    I would urge Pakistan fans to dwell on the fate of Mitchell Johnson for a moment. He won some fancy awards only a couple of years ago, and look where he is now- can't even make it into the test squad let alone starting XI.

  • hasan on September 7, 2012, 13:32 GMT

    For all those who are saying that awards are not important, yeah right, it really isnt. May be thats why England and Wales Cricket Board went out of line and ended up doing intense labour to get Graeme Swann on that 2010 list. So all the english fans and sympathizers who think awards are not so important, better inquire the English Board first as to why they took such irrational and unimportant thing so seriously?

    I think this stand off b/w PCB and ICC is really gonna test the lobbying strength of PCB on international scene. Whether they can convince others to go with them and eventually force ICC to change the decision (like in 2010 for swann) or ICC will keep on ignoring it (as they have stated) and prove that PCB is not strong enough.

  • hasan on September 7, 2012, 13:32 GMT

    For all those who are saying that awards are not important, yeah right, it really isnt. May be thats why England and Wales Cricket Board went out of line and ended up doing intense labour to get Graeme Swann on that 2010 list. So all the english fans and sympathizers who think awards are not so important, better inquire the English Board first as to why they took such irrational and unimportant thing so seriously?

    I think this stand off b/w PCB and ICC is really gonna test the lobbying strength of PCB on international scene. Whether they can convince others to go with them and eventually force ICC to change the decision (like in 2010 for swann) or ICC will keep on ignoring it (as they have stated) and prove that PCB is not strong enough.

  • vivek mishra on September 7, 2012, 10:58 GMT

    thanks andrew,saeed's non inclusion warranted this article. smacks of bias against third world. AWARD OR NO AWARD...AJMAL'S GETTIN EM ALL:)

  • Abdul Quddus on September 7, 2012, 7:35 GMT

    Despite of this ceremony and not being nominated while last year Swann was nominated with same rule by ICC I think Saeed Ajmal is currently the best spinner for me. I don't know about others thought and taking him lightly but I appreciate PCB's decision to stand by their player as were done by ECB last year. Though no change in the list is now confirmed we (people) here in Pakistan are not feeling good of this decision (whether you like it or not).

  • Vishnu Mohan on September 7, 2012, 7:33 GMT

    Why, oh why, do they even have to give out such awards in cricket? As Amla said, they have him the second best batter in the world, when he felt he wasn't the second best even in his team. Lets just play cricket. And Sir Hughes, another well written piece

    @wasif- know much English? Then maybe you can say in which line Andrew was critising about the whining of PCB

  • Ian on September 7, 2012, 6:55 GMT

    I Love the acknowladgement to how truly awful current tv talent shows are. i dont really care who wins the award, i just want to watch cricket.

  • Waqar Qazi on September 7, 2012, 5:20 GMT

    Why shouldn't we criticize ICC? It's not about Ajmal inclusion, it's about ICC's handling of the matters? This is the second time in a few years when an 'oversight' has happened on such an important selection? does it mean ICC has problems in selecting the right people for the job? We say PCB is just whining but it is whining rightly! maybe they are not helping Ajmal with the award but rather helping ICC getting better. Then again look at the handling of the matter by ICC; they tried to put the blame on the two paksitanis in the jury like everyone was lobbying for his countryman and the pakistanis didnt and why are there only two pakistanis in the jury?

  • Yasir on September 7, 2012, 4:13 GMT

    It’s a bit sad to see that a well deserving cricketer is not getting his due share – apart from stats, his greatness can be summed-up by just following the pre series interviews of all the captains that have played Pakistan in the last one and half year – everyone has mentioned repeatedly Ajmal as a key threat (just ask Aussies if you don’t trust me). Pre series Hype around Ajmal is far more than any of the nominated players (though all deserving in my humble opinion)

  • SouthPaw on September 7, 2012, 4:10 GMT

    @Hughes: You could have saved a lot of time (yours and readers') by posting just the last 3 paragraphs. The preamble, if one can call it that, is uninspired and perhaps even noisome. You have done better before!

  • maheshq on September 7, 2012, 2:11 GMT

    Which would you rather have? The world's best spinner or the winner of some arbitrary award? I know what I'd choose....

    I would urge Pakistan fans to dwell on the fate of Mitchell Johnson for a moment. He won some fancy awards only a couple of years ago, and look where he is now- can't even make it into the test squad let alone starting XI.

  • vedprakash on September 7, 2012, 0:34 GMT

    Ajmal has probably been rejected because his action is controversial and many purists have questioned it. The ICC would have egg on their faces, if somewhere down the years its found that his bowling wasn't legal after all. Instead of quibbling, the Pakistani Board should be relieved that no aggressive inquiry into the bowling action is being made -Ajmal should also thank his stars that Darell Hair is not around.

  • TRAM on September 7, 2012, 0:27 GMT

    What PCB (and every board) should do is run their own "World Best Cricketer" awards program and give awards (what their panel thinks) is based on merit. Why trust the ICC? Why should standards be set on a certain Grammy, Oscar awards conducted by one country, and why should people watch those with open mouth? I am honest in saying that and I am not sarcastic or anything. I did support ICL until they closed.

  • Ram A on September 6, 2012, 22:30 GMT

    "Just like in the real world (or the internet, as we call it) " - Excellent

  • Shahzad on September 6, 2012, 22:24 GMT

    The way I read this article; heroes will be heroes regardless if they are honored or not, PCB is weak and discrimination is acceptable for ICC members with no nuisance value.

  • parveez shafi on September 6, 2012, 22:20 GMT

    Ajmal should carry on with what he is doing best on the field. Hopefully next year he will win, and then he can tell the ICC to stick the award where it hurts.

  • Marya on September 6, 2012, 22:20 GMT

    Funny piece, good read. Thanks for the support! :D

  • Alfred on September 6, 2012, 21:20 GMT

    Never are truer words spoken than in jest. Particularly about the ex-rehab actress at the Oscars - hilarity itself.

  • Atif on September 6, 2012, 21:20 GMT

    The best should make the list. And Ajmal was exceptional. The awards have lost their lustre and if they continue to ignore players like Ajmal in the future, they will lose the fan following as well.

  • Shouldas-Wouldas-Couldas on September 6, 2012, 20:40 GMT

    Ajmal being "OUT OF THIS WORLD", does not qualify !!!!!!!!!!

  • Junaid on September 6, 2012, 20:34 GMT

    Your attempt at humor was a scratch on my wounds...ohhh it hurtsss!!! OUCHH!!

  • Rukhman Malik on September 6, 2012, 19:06 GMT

    you r no different then ICC.... baised and rude. I sincerely hope that you might face similar situation in your near future and only then you will realise how disgusting your reading between the lines are.....

  • Vernon Sowzacki on September 6, 2012, 18:25 GMT

    "...independent voting panel made up of Simon Cowell, Beyonce, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Sourav Ganguly’s hair" ... LOL!

  • Vernon Sowzacki on September 6, 2012, 18:25 GMT

    "...independent voting panel made up of Simon Cowell, Beyonce, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Sourav Ganguly’s hair" ... LOL!

  • Hassan on September 6, 2012, 17:28 GMT

    Well written. Didn't understand one thing. Graeme Swann was added to list for Top ICC award in 2010. Isn't it a double standard?

  • Adil on September 6, 2012, 17:09 GMT

    Excellent article Andrew. Piece about Homer's eye-sight and the qualification for a celebraty to be awarded are jst awesome. Finally some thing funny from you man, I love it!

  • Pranesh Chaudhary on September 6, 2012, 16:36 GMT

    Wow! Your opening line had me in laughing fits!! Insanely funny :)

  • Ramamurthy on September 6, 2012, 15:51 GMT

    Great one Andrew. I particularly liked " just in the real world ( or the Internet as we call it". I wish more competent persons (like you) are there to choose the cricketer of the year. Amal is the best bowler in the world today and has succeeded in all three formats. Long live the king. Long live ICC

  • Waseem F Ahmed on September 6, 2012, 15:19 GMT

    This fuss ove ajmal reminds me of a school kid being pushed by the parents.

  • Tariq on September 6, 2012, 14:36 GMT

    Great stuff! A good one on iccc awards and ajmal.

  • wasif on September 6, 2012, 14:28 GMT

    Hello, No wonder your articles are full of good sarcasm and I've always loved reading these. But after years of reading articles on cricket, I think most foreign writers including you take 'Pakistan' and its players on a very low rating. If it wasn't about Saeed Ajmal or any other English player, I believe your article would've hit ICC panel rather than criticising about PCB's whining on the decision of ICC.

  • Ibrahim on September 6, 2012, 10:51 GMT

    never mind the awards Saeed, keep on performing like this... If the ICC still doesn't nominate you, the awards will lose its credibility

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  • Ibrahim on September 6, 2012, 10:51 GMT

    never mind the awards Saeed, keep on performing like this... If the ICC still doesn't nominate you, the awards will lose its credibility

  • wasif on September 6, 2012, 14:28 GMT

    Hello, No wonder your articles are full of good sarcasm and I've always loved reading these. But after years of reading articles on cricket, I think most foreign writers including you take 'Pakistan' and its players on a very low rating. If it wasn't about Saeed Ajmal or any other English player, I believe your article would've hit ICC panel rather than criticising about PCB's whining on the decision of ICC.

  • Tariq on September 6, 2012, 14:36 GMT

    Great stuff! A good one on iccc awards and ajmal.

  • Waseem F Ahmed on September 6, 2012, 15:19 GMT

    This fuss ove ajmal reminds me of a school kid being pushed by the parents.

  • Ramamurthy on September 6, 2012, 15:51 GMT

    Great one Andrew. I particularly liked " just in the real world ( or the Internet as we call it". I wish more competent persons (like you) are there to choose the cricketer of the year. Amal is the best bowler in the world today and has succeeded in all three formats. Long live the king. Long live ICC

  • Pranesh Chaudhary on September 6, 2012, 16:36 GMT

    Wow! Your opening line had me in laughing fits!! Insanely funny :)

  • Adil on September 6, 2012, 17:09 GMT

    Excellent article Andrew. Piece about Homer's eye-sight and the qualification for a celebraty to be awarded are jst awesome. Finally some thing funny from you man, I love it!

  • Hassan on September 6, 2012, 17:28 GMT

    Well written. Didn't understand one thing. Graeme Swann was added to list for Top ICC award in 2010. Isn't it a double standard?

  • Vernon Sowzacki on September 6, 2012, 18:25 GMT

    "...independent voting panel made up of Simon Cowell, Beyonce, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Sourav Ganguly’s hair" ... LOL!

  • Vernon Sowzacki on September 6, 2012, 18:25 GMT

    "...independent voting panel made up of Simon Cowell, Beyonce, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Sourav Ganguly’s hair" ... LOL!