ICC awards 2012 September 16, 2012

Sangakkara's reign is South Africa's pain

Kumar Sangakkara was the big winner but the night's biggest disappointments were for South Africa, whose only award came in T20

Kumar Sangakkara will almost certainly need to expand an already teeming mantelpiece after winning three ICC awards, including the two most vaunted prizes for Test Cricketer and Cricketer of the Year, not two weeks after also taking home the three top trophies from SLC's awards night. It is fitting that he has dealt in threes, given that is his batting position. Or maybe the Water's Edge ballroom in Colombo that hosted both evenings is just a successful venue for him, much like the MCG was for Donald Bradman. How he pipped Sachin Tendulkar for the People's Choice Award, voted for by the public, was the enigma of the evening. Perhaps Kanye West could have quietly asked around. Tendulkar is one of the most popular cricketers of all time.

Michael Slater suited up alongside UK TV presenter Sarah-Jane Mee to host the evening, and though the jokes could have, at times, used a little more commitment, they kept the show moving at a brisk enough pace to keep the audience entertained. The teams were all out in force from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, and after all the commotion over Saeed Ajmal's omission from all the awards nominees lists, even Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez was in attendance along with Asad Shafiq, Imran Nazir, and several Pakistan support staff. When asked whom he thought would win the evening's big prize, coach Dav Whatmore resisted stirring the pot.

Daniel Vettori was among the first on stage, becoming the first individual recipient of the Spirit of Cricket Award, which had previously been handed out to the team who played the game in the best spirit. This 'spirit' is one of the fuzziest concepts in the game and Vettori tried valiantly to explain what it meant. "Going out on the field with the general mindset to play the game in the right way and always in the right frame of mind," he said. Well, then, that disambiguates it right up.

Kumar Dharmasena became Umpire of the Year, almost foreshadowing the haul that was to follow for the other Kumar, but when Sangakkara's montage for Test player of the year came up on the screen, it seemed as if the ICC were intent on sabotaging him. Fellow nominees Hashim Amla, Vernon Philander and Michael Clarke were depicted in their moments of success - a raised bat, at cracking stroke or a wicket celebration. All Sangakkara got was a streaky edge past slip. "I don't think he would have wanted to see that," Philander said not-so-quietly, over a round of chuckles.

The biggest disappointments of the evening were for South Africa, who despite claiming the No.1 ranking in all three forms of the game in an outstanding year, could only muster an award between them - and that only for Twenty20. Philander's 56 wickets at an average of 16.57 was overlooked, with even Sangakkara sheepishly admitting that Philander had dismissed him twice in South Africa. Hashim Amla meanwhile, scored at a significantly superior average to Sangakkara in both Tests and ODis in the period considered, even if he could not match Sangakkara's volume of runs, having played fewer matches. When the final award for Cricketer of the Year was announced, the South Africa table was a wall of blank stares, save for Philander who raised his eyebrows, partly in astonishment, but mainly in resignation. Having achieved so much in twelve months as a team, South Africa might have justifiably expected recognition for the individuals who were instrumental to their success.

It was the hometown hero though, who emerged the night's big winner. His own father may chide him with the line "I don't know how you are playing for your country when you bat like a donkey," but 2901 runs in Tests and ODIs was substantial enough to sway the judges.

Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Sri Lanka

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  • Deshen on September 19, 2012, 12:00 GMT

    I am a huge fan of Sanga, but come on ICC, Ashim Amla what a way to finish this year in England, completely dominated every format. Amla's stroke play has been amazing to say the least. An in all honestly if Amla continues on his merry path, his average and runs will smash Sanga's in a shorther time period. And talking about fastest to reach 8000 and 9000 runs, Amla is the fastest to reach 3000 runs, i think Amla is built for the long run though, an he is surely to bag some awards next year.

  • Richard on September 18, 2012, 10:14 GMT

    @CRmadrid. The award is for Cricketer of the Year, so unless Sanga played all those 111 games in the last 12 months, your argument is null and void. But if you want to go down that path you need to account for where those stats are generally pulled from - Sanga's home conditions are tame next to the hostile tracks one can find in SA. The sub continent lends itself to large averages. All that said, I could watch Sanga bat all day, he's sheer class. I just feel he was pipped by Amla over the last 12 months.

  • Ganesh Babu on September 18, 2012, 9:25 GMT

    This is without doubt the worst selection committee ever. First Ajmal was omitted from the list which is absolutely ridiculous and if that wasn´t enough to prove my point Vernon was not chosen to be the cricketer of the year. Please don´t take runs scored anywhere in the subcontinent while discussing stats. Anyone can score a 100 and Sanga and Jaya will milk the bowlers anyday at SSC. Totally apalling.

  • sarath on September 18, 2012, 7:04 GMT

    Great article, kumara Darmasena is a well deserved winner.

  • Dummy4 on September 17, 2012, 19:50 GMT

    Won't bother with these awards ever again. Perhaps Amla looks too Pakistani for an award.

  • Luke on September 17, 2012, 13:12 GMT

    South Africa have only got themselves to blame for this continued oversight. If they seek to receive international recognition, they must play more cricket, particularly Test cricket. Simple.

  • devin on September 17, 2012, 8:18 GMT

    Loved the kanye west reference :D congrats sanga!

  • Dummy4 on September 17, 2012, 7:58 GMT

    @ Daryl Gobey funny maaan How many matches has Amla played altogether... 62 but His career avg still 49.95 while Sanga Played 111 matches and his career avg is 56.73 ... how come when he play less number of matches and still avg not pass 50..? Dont forget Sanga was the wicket keeper for very long time in his career.. n his avg is over 70 after giving up the keeping duties... btw hes the 3 in the list of most 200' s only behind Lara and Bradman ... not to forget his number of 190's and will Amla ever able to score 4 consecutive 150's as sanga did... ? Hes the fastest to reach 8000 and 9000 test runs surpassing Sachin and Dravid ... Will Amla be ever be able to Achieve those records ? I didnt mention abt Sangas World record Partnership.. Against SA.. Wotta Thrashing it was... :P

  • Dinushan on September 17, 2012, 6:32 GMT

    Seriously Andrew,what are you trying to prove here?

  • Dummy4 on September 17, 2012, 5:21 GMT

    Congratulation to Sanga and All fellow Lankan cricket fanatic, He is truly awesome , thoroughly deserved this award. Guys who are chanting about about Sanga not deserving award are fanbias and nothing esle. the way sanga scored match saving 211 against Pakistan in truly testing conditions is absolutely need to admire,

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