Rob Steen
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Sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

All hail the men of the year

Time to salute the players who made 2011 in cricket the year it was

Rob Steen

December 14, 2011

Comments: 92 | Text size: A | A

Misbah-ul-Haq laughs during training, Dubai, November 9, 2011
Misbah-ul-Haq: His calm leadership and calmer batting have been key to Pakistan's resurgence © AFP
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Cricket in 2011 found its twin symbols in the movies that moved me the most - Lars von Trier's Melancholia and Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. While the former is as depressing as middlebrow entertainment gets, the latter is profoundly uplifting - dissatisfaction begets nostalgia and thence our reluctance to appreciate the present. Whether, for lovers of flannelled tomfoolery, the pleasure was worth the pain is a question only history can answer.

This, after all, will go down as the year that saw the game plumb fresh depths in courtroom and committee room. Never before had cricketers been jailed for their activities on an international field. Never before had a purportedly reputable official alleged that Tests were "routinely fixed" (that Lord Condon submitted not a grain of evidence has only aggravated the potential for finger-pointing ructions). Never again will those running the game postpone a worthwhile new event to please the almighty broadcasters (sentiments typed with vastly more hope than conviction).

Not that the scars stop there. There was too much cricket, and too little of consequence. TV viewers and sponsors played Spot-The-Spectator. One national board refused to pay players for months on end; the chief executive of another was persistently accused of misappropriating more than a quarter of a million dollars; one of our foremost entertainers, Chris Gayle, spent as much time in the blue of Matabeleland Tuskers as the maroon of West Indies; squabbles over technological aids maintained a two-tier system of justice. Even in Thailand, rum doings were reported in the name of bat and ball.

Yet to those inclined to see their glass as half-full, there was certainly oodles to savour, not least in the subversion of traditional norms. Ravichandran Ashwin, Darren Bravo, Pat Cummins, Virat Kohli and James Pattinson all strode into the spotlight and lapped up the rays; New Zealand unveiled the Three Bs - Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell and Dean Brownlie; Mohammad Hafeez and Chris Tremlett were reborn. Jacques, Rahul, Ricky and Sachin duelled with age and, to varying degrees, prevailed. Alastair Cook completed his journey from precipice to throne. Dale Steyn widened the gulf between himself and the bowling pack to Persian proportions. David Warner roared out of his pigeonhole. Shane Watson looked poised to persuade even the hardiest sceptic that he may one day inspire the chorus "Keith who?"

MS Dhoni led India from front and rear to claim a mostly dull World Cup. Australia lost a World Cup fixture at last but even amid a period of upheaval still led the one-day rankings. In the space of six days, Mumbai and Johannesburg staged two of the most gripping climaxes in Test annals. England attained the No. 1 Test ranking through deep pace resources and flat-track bullying, but overall, the team of the year are Pakistan. Yes, Pakistan, who racked up 33 victories and a winning record, uniquely, in all formats, while never once enjoying home advantage. Sure, they did it by massacring the mediocre and marmalising the modest, but still. If ever a nation's cricket needed to unhinge itself from its past, Pakistan's does now.

The most endearing and enduring soundbite came courtesy Virender Sehwag. In Indore, fresh from the biggest of the year's most brutal assaults (those by Watson and Essex's Graham Napier, against Bangladesh and Surrey, were even nastier in strike-rate terms), having not so much broken Sachin Tendulkar's ODI peak as torn it limb from limb, he proffered a priceless postcript: "I am very happy with myself." And why ever not? We all know there's no "I" in "team", or "country" for that matter (though there is one in "side" and, come to think of it, "collective"), but if anyone has a right to toot his own horn it is assuredly the game's principal soloist. Besides, media training has scaled such heights of efficiency it's a wonder Bob Dylan has yet to deliver that belated follow-up to Blonde on Blonde - Bland On Bland. What joy to hear gut reaction rather than pre-packed line.

And so to this column's Five Cricketers of the Year, in reverse order of distinction. To those who feel that Dhoni's absence is akin to leaving Josef Stalin out of the Top Five Most Dastardly Dictators, let's just say his mantelpiece is creaking already.

Devendra Bishoo
This has been a year of small, cherishable miracles: Zimbabwe's resurgence under Alan Butcher and Brendan Taylor; Dhoni recalling Ian Bell in the cause of decency; Ponting walking - for an lbw; Australia careering to 21 for 9; MCC inviting Tony Greig to give the next "Spirit of Cricket" lecture. It's still fiendishly hard to see past the fact that the international circuit's No. 2 wicket-hunter, with 65 all told, should be a legspinner from Berbice - let alone one who looks as if a gentle sneeze might blow him over. The younger of the bravura Bravo brothers may be shaping up as the brightest star in the Caribbean firmament but runs are not the priority. With Ravi Rampaul coming on in leaps and bounds, Fidel Edwards round-arming his way back to unpickupability, and Kemar Roach emerging as a second enforcer, the revival may have begun in earnest.

 
 
To those who feel that Dhoni's absence is akin to leaving Josef Stalin out of the Top Five Most Dastardly Dictators, let's just say his mantelpiece is creaking already
 

Ian Bell
Warwickshire supporters can congratulate themselves on their prescience and faith but few others would have guessed that the shy young thing Shane Warne derided as the "Shermanator" would grow into the most watchable batsman in the business. That 2011 Test average of 118.75 doesn't lie. Nor do those five hundreds in 11 innings. What was once an endearingly fragile walk to the crease is now the epitome of breezy sturdiness. Yet if muscle and reliability are now assets, neither has come at the expense of aesthetics. With VVS fading, however gracefully, and Mahela Jayawardene out of sorts, connoisseurs of style have a new poster boy.

Misbah-ul-Haq
Saeed "Mr Doosra" Ajmal's 85 international wickets to date headed the rest by a street; Younis Khan has averaged 80 in nine Tests since being recalled; Shahid Afridi unretired to transformative effect; Mohammad Hafeez came of all-round age; Umar Gul and Junaid Khan made it possible to pretend Mohammads Asif and Amir had never been considered their superior; Zaka Ashraf has almost made it possible to pretend that Ijaz Butt had never existed. Kudos for the current Pakistani resurgence, though, goes primarily to Misbah, whose calm leadership and even calmer batting have lent stability to the most storm-tossed vessel on the high seas. The contrast to his disgraced predecessor could hardly have been starker. Among the new, true allrounders - i.e. those picked across all three formats - none averaged more than his 57.20. The first 40-year-old national skipper since Imran Khan? Don't put it past him.

Stephen Davies
Seldom glimpsed inside an international boundary, his most conspicuous onfield acts did little more than haul Surrey up from where they had no right being and back to where they once belonged - winners at Lord's and promoted to the top tier of the County Championship. Only in the shortest form did he not regress. Three regular stumpers posted more impressive first-class averages than the one unfortunate enough to be his country's designated Test No. 2 at a time when the top dog is as prolific in that department as any to tend timber while sporting the three lions. Then again, it's not exactly every year that you become the first cricketer of renown to make his homosexuality public.

On February 27, regardless of whether the tabloids forced his hand, Davies trod where few active sportsmen have ever dared to tread. Whether others feel liberated to follow, we can only wait and see; much will depend on whether he can translate that admirable resolve into a substantial career, but will almost certainly rely even more on the maturity of those tempted to test that resolve and the punishment meted out to any who fail to resist. Wherever this leads, his courage and determination should never be underestimated or forgotten.

Kumar Sangakkara
Nobody has scored more international runs in 2011 than his 2156. Nobody manned a burning bridge more defiantly than he did during the Test series against Pakistan - 516 runs at 86, when Sri Lanka's next most manful contribution was Tharanga Paranavitana's 195 at 39. Yet it was as an orator, with his "Spirit of Cricket" lecture at Lord's, that he dazzled. Greig has some act to follow.

Sangakkara began by expressing sentiments that ought to echo throughout every cranny of cricketkind: "I strongly believe that we have reached a critical juncture in the game's history and that unless we better sustain Test cricket, embrace technology enthusiastically, protect the game's global governance from narrow self-interest, and more aggressively root out corruption then cricket will face an uncertain future." In proudly tracing the inspirational history of Sri Lankan cricket he also denounced those who threaten to ruin it. Describing the club structure as "archaic" and the administrators as unstable, he marvelled that so many world-beaters had somehow been produced.

What lingered longest, nonetheless, was his closing musings: "Fans of different races, castes, ethnicities and religions who together celebrate their diversity by uniting for a common national cause. They are my foundation, they are my family. I will play my cricket for them. Their spirit is the true spirit of cricket. With me are all my people. I am Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim and Burgher. I am a Buddhist, a Hindu, a follower of Islam and Christianity." Good thing he didn't insert "Judaism": I'd have felt obliged to have his babies.

Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

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Posted by   on (December 16, 2011, 16:28 GMT)

well done rob steen !!!!! WELL DONE !!!!!!

Posted by jay57870 on (December 16, 2011, 11:54 GMT)

Rob - As a sports journalist & lecturer you disappoint us because you're clearly off the mark. Trivialising it as the "mostly dull World Cup" is an abomination. Just ask Andrew Miller (UK Editor, Cricinfo): He headlined it as "The best World Cup of all time" in his April 5 column! Miller was there in person and concluded that "the 2011 tournament was a resounding triumph"! He added in no uncertain terms: "Of the 10 World Cups to have taken place since 1975, none has come close to matching the narrative and drama of the tournament just completed - not even 1992, which is commonly cited as the pundits' pick to date"! There you have it, Rob. You missed it completely again, as you did with Dravid's conspicuous omission. Do your homework before you lecture, otherwise your students will be disappointed too. A suggestion: Make Dravid's Bradman Oration (just like Sanga's Cowdrey Lecture) mandatory reading in your lectures. Maybe the students (and you) will learn something of value!

Posted by jay57870 on (December 16, 2011, 11:04 GMT)

(Cont) Above all, Dravid stressed that cricket must respect the fan - without whom there can be no cricket. He was most eloquent in his reflections on Indian cricket, calling it a "microcosm" of India itself. It stands not "just for sport, but possibility, hope, opportunities" while rejecting the "cliched image" that it was only about money & power. It's opened doors for aspiring cricketers from all corners of the nation (diversity!), especially small towns. Rahul cited stories of Zaheer, Munaf, Yadav & Sehwag. Yes, Viru had to travel 84Kms by bus to his college every day for practice & matches. Yet Steen wastes a whole paragraph (with irrelevant Dylan lines) ridiculing Sehwag for "tooting his own horn"? Still he has no time to mention Dhoni's sporting gesture - urged by Rahul & Sachin - to reverse his "poster boy" Bell's run-out call? Spirit of cricket? Dravid is a living symbol of everything that's right about cricket. He received a standing ovation at the Memorial. All Hail Dravid!

Posted by jay57870 on (December 16, 2011, 10:58 GMT)

Rob - How did you miss Rahul Dravid on your "men of the year" list? His resurgence this year has been incredible, stamped by 5 Test centuries - including 3 in that forgettable England tour. It would have made even Jack Hobbs salute in adulation, given that Rahul (almost 39) is the oldest cricketer in the game. He's for sure as deserving as Sangakkara. Just ask Daniel Brettig (Asst. Editor, Cricinfo) about Dravid's 2011 Bradman Oration delivered this week, the first cricketer from outside Australia invited to do so. In his "Memorable at the Memorial" column, Brettig calls it a "meticulous, wide-ranging and fascinating speech ... perhaps the most significant delivered since the Oration began." Just like Sanga's famous "Spirit of Cricket" lecture, Rahul's was laden with matters of deep import to the game. He stressed the need to balance all three formats, while warning of dangers of overscheduling; and for players to make sacrifices, be accountable to keep the game clean & viable. (TBC)

Posted by JG2704 on (December 16, 2011, 10:37 GMT)

@suresh.gururajan - If the OD series in INDIA was the payback series , why are so many of your fans still making excuses and still so bitter about the summer series ? We'll see how things shape up when we square up again in tests

Posted by suresh.gururajan on (December 15, 2011, 22:36 GMT)

And Australia and England would get a thrashing of their lives when they come to India, just like it happened with England (the payback series) :)

Posted by suresh.gururajan on (December 15, 2011, 22:31 GMT)

I can't believe that Rahul Dravid has not been included in this list. If England and Pakistan are to be appreciated for their efforts, so should India. It is the first time that a country hosting a world cup has ever won it. Credit should have been given to MSD for that FINAL and Yuvraj Singh for prevailing throughout the tournament. You also missed Kieron Pollard's maiden ton against India, though it ended in a loss for WI.

Posted by RosstheIcon on (December 15, 2011, 22:11 GMT)

@CricketkaFunda: How can India be team of the year when they fully demonstrated a complete inability to win away from home (you can't just ignore losing 10/10 games in England) and struggled to win a test series against the West Indies even at home?! The only candidates for me are England, Pakistan and Zimbabwe and I would say that Pakistan take it because to come back from an awful 2010 where they were humiliated on and off the pitch was a very commendable effort, especially when they can't play at home. The 2011 world cup did contain many dull games, especially in group A, although there were some absolute crackers as well, such as India vs England. However I will say missing Rahul Dravid out is an absolute travesty.

Posted by   on (December 15, 2011, 21:40 GMT)

Dear Writer, Highest Run scorer in ODIs is Virat Kohli & in Tests is Rahul Dravid. You need to catch up with the game.

Posted by CricketkaFunda on (December 15, 2011, 20:22 GMT)

I have never read worst post ever than this. 2011 WC dull, OMG, you might have seen a different WC or you are not at all happy that India won it. It was tremendous world cup with a very good performances. Team of the year is Pakistan, another joke. Gimme a break! Pakistan only won against minor teams and lost to even WI. Team of the year is definitely India with world cup win and barring tour of England remained invincible. Waste of time.

Posted by aa61761 on (December 15, 2011, 19:28 GMT)

Pathetic India is about to get Royal Beating in Australia on fast and bouncy pitches, just like what they received in England.

Posted by JG2704 on (December 15, 2011, 18:06 GMT)

@er.Vaibhav on (December 15 2011, 12:34 PM GMT) - Bell is actually quite positive when he plays test cricket. I agree that you get decent OD matches but in the past month we've seen 2 great test matches involving Aus vs SA and NZ. Actually the 1st SA/Aus was pretty decent too. Maybe ESPN should do a separate piece on OD and T20 players who have excelled?

Posted by JG2704 on (December 15, 2011, 18:06 GMT)

@Sitanshu Shekhar on (December 14 2011, 22:10 PM GMT) - To be fair the world cup is/was probably bigger to you than it was to England. No disrespect meant but England either underestimated their own fitness levels or the people who scheduled the Oz tour preceding the WC didn't take the WC as seriously as they should/could have. Maybe because we felt we were within touching distance of the becoming the number 1 test side we decided to dedicate more into achieving that goal. For India the WC was obviously more important their country. Therefore us English fans should not cite burnout/injuries for our WC failure and Indians should not do the same for the England tour - if that's why we think we failed. We each choose our priorities and I guess we should both be happy , you that India achieved the WC and England that they achieved the no 1 ranking

Posted by er.Vaibhav on (December 15, 2011, 12:34 GMT)

I bet if you found the subcontinental wc2011 dull then the definition of exciting according to you will be an inning of 2 runs off 50 balls in a draw test match by the GREAT Ian bell of yours....

Posted by legsidewide on (December 15, 2011, 11:34 GMT)

Great article Rob, makes for pleasant and stimulating reading. The "dull" WC comment seems to be riling a few people up. I agree with you; aside from 3 or 4 good contests, on the whole the tournament was lacking in flourish and interest. And for all those complaining about neglecting Dravid, Tendulkar, Dhoni etc., read the article again! Rob name-checks all of them. @CricIndia208 and India fanatics, no matter how much you keep harping on about it, nobody believes India were the best team this year, they bombed in England, gave up easy chases in the West Indies and produced nothing new in their cricket. I think Yuvraj's WC MoT was highly undeserved, and his fitness and injury problems have made him little more than a sideshow this year. And good on you for praising Pakistan, too often does the difficulties of always playing away from home get overlooked. If there's anything missing from this article, it's a mention of the associates, ten Doeschate, O'Brien, Stirling & co. all impressed.

Posted by Aragorn_11 on (December 15, 2011, 10:47 GMT)

I dont know why people always say Pakistan beat modest teams....they Also beat Australia and Sril Lanka in the WC 2011...and Sri Lanka (who came runners up in the WC 2011 in the end) are not a modest team, and they beat them 4-1...though England did beat the World Champions 4-0, only for the World Champions to return a 5-0 on England...so yes Pakistan has been the most efficient and consistent team this year, 3-0 up against West Indies, when they lost the last 2...and all their matches are away from home, never forget that!

Posted by   on (December 15, 2011, 8:38 GMT)

Dear Writer,

You missed the Rahul Dravid-"The Wall".

What a miss!

Posted by Ayanmalik on (December 15, 2011, 3:42 GMT)

Nice to read such a great article, it covers all the features of world cricket till now. In the give n circumstances Pakistan undoubtly is the best side as they were not enjoying their home conditions, They have battled all the way at other soils and the draw back they have sufferd in recent by losing so cricketers so Team of the year is Pakistan is ture. Workd cup is no doubt is geat event for every one. Indian win was great although they have the advantage of home conditions any how they are World Champs. Sangakara is really the best ever left hander I have seen even better than Lara. Overall this article is really cover all aspects in the world cricket

Posted by deepak_sholapurkar on (December 15, 2011, 3:34 GMT)

How you have missed Rahul Dravid, the highest Test scorer this year...!

Posted by cricket_fan_1980 on (December 15, 2011, 3:09 GMT)

Agree with many assessments by Mr Steen. Although, not so sure the world cup would classify as "boring"? there were some cracking games and performances in that tournament. A big well-done to the South Asian giants for hogging the semi's too. I agree with Mr Steen that Sanga is one of the main performers of the year, as is Saeed "Doosra". Pure stats wise, this really has been Pakistan's year. Sustained and classy dominance in all formats, across different conditions and so good overall that even if you remove the Zim and Ben efforts, its still highly impressive, possibly statistically better than the rest. The last two years I think have belonged to England, generally, as the "most improved" student in the classroom prize. India too has done well over the past two to three years. Good to see the aussies being dominated a fair amount.

Posted by Alexk400 on (December 15, 2011, 3:07 GMT)

Sanga will be Srilankan president one day.

Posted by chishtyirfan on (December 15, 2011, 1:42 GMT)

team of the year pakistan. cricketer of the year Sanga, captain of the year MIsbah.

Posted by Meety on (December 15, 2011, 1:01 GMT)

Good article - without a doubt the man of the year is Kumar Sanga in my books. That speech was awesome & he is the best batsmen in the world currently.

Posted by pinhead9810 on (December 14, 2011, 22:28 GMT)

A good read however I disagree with the 'a dull world cup' comment. Just to comment on India's world cup win. I agree with the home advantage, but do remember playing in India has never been easy. Since the 90's India haven't lost many Test/ODI series. Pakistan have been excellent this year and hopefully they play more games..nice to see Pakistan back in action and my team of the year has to be Pakistan!

Posted by bigdhonifan on (December 14, 2011, 22:21 GMT)

Pakistan beating Zimababwe, Banglasdesh, Srilanka and Lost match to Windies considered good team????? Then I say Ireland is the best team in world!!! For me.. Test Team- England, ODI Team- India, T20I Pak or NZ (Both did equal performance) or Mumbai Indians.

Posted by   on (December 14, 2011, 22:10 GMT)

Sick and tired of British journalists not realising the simple fact that the world cup was the biggest trophy available this year. Any test match against one team is not more important than a world cup which involves all top cricket playing nations.

Agreed that the ind-eng one dayers in India were meaningless, and that the test series is much better than such one day series, but the world cup is THE most important trophy in cricket.

Additionally, it is a very commendable and a bold step that Steve Davies took, and full support to him. But, which side he bats for does not change his cricketing ability, and in this year where some great players have performed admirably, he was simply ordinary.

Finally, Coming from an Indian, Misbah Ul Haq deserves to be in this list because of the stability he has brought to Pakistan. Though, I do not think there was a team of the year, because none of the teams played well enough over all 3 forms of the game.

Posted by   on (December 14, 2011, 22:09 GMT)

What???????????????????????

Posted by JG2704 on (December 14, 2011, 21:44 GMT)

I wouldn't necessarily say the WC was dull. The India/England tie was superb and if the Ireland and Bangladesh/England games must have been good to watch if you're not an England game. Possibly it was a bit long and drawn out and I said the way to go would be 4 groups of 4 , then QF/SF and F. More teams , less fixtures per team , shorter WC.

Posted by JG2704 on (December 14, 2011, 21:43 GMT)

@nktoofan on (December 14 2011, 15:51 PM GMT) - Swings and roundabouts on these boards here. We're not always impressed with other countries fans coming on England posts just to post non constructive gloats , half truths , contradictions etc , but it happens. Maybe a fairer way of doing it would have been to pick one player per country and then we can all debate amongst each other whether our countries' player is the right choice. As I posted earlier my England player would have been Broad , mainly because he stood up and delivered the goods just when we needed him to.

Posted by JG2704 on (December 14, 2011, 21:43 GMT)

@RandyOZ on (December 14 2011, 11:37 AM GMT) - What month of this year was it that Warne was bamboozling Bell. Maybe Bell will have a bad time in the forthcoming tours but this article is based on how players have performed in the last 12 months. I thought you might have been able to work that out?

Posted by USAPakCricFollower on (December 14, 2011, 21:19 GMT)

Great blog. I had not seen Sang's lecture. Very cool. Food for thought not only for cricket fans but everyone around the world in general. If people could embrace Sanga's philosophy we would be in a better world, while enjoying cricket the way it should be - as a gentleman's game.

Posted by hhillbumper on (December 14, 2011, 21:03 GMT)

Jonesey 2 there you are.I think Aussies should be team of the year because they still turn up despite a lack of talent and god bless them their fans still think they are no 1.Also to all those Indian fans this is not just a site for your players this is a personal choice by a writer.We get enough articles on here about Indian grounds and frankly we could not give a stuff but realise this is a site for everyone

Posted by TaylorSwift on (December 14, 2011, 19:25 GMT)

That was a good read. Pakistan is the team of the year for me as well. Misbah, the leader of the year. Top batting honours to Sanga, Dravid and Bell to name a few. Top bowling honours to Ajmal and Broady (for his impressive turnaround against India). Hafeez is the best all-rounder of 2011 for me. And we caught a glimpse of potential future stars in Kohli, Cummins, Pattinson, Finn, Bracewell, Junaid and Bravo. The new year begins with Ind vs Aus and Eng vs Pak. Should make for some interesting cricket.

Posted by   on (December 14, 2011, 18:33 GMT)

you can never mention that lecture by snagakkara enough. It should live in the memory and be a constant source of inspiration for the future.

Posted by Naikan on (December 14, 2011, 18:10 GMT)

"Torn it limb from limb"? That is rather a poor choice of words both literally and truthfully. Feels like you are comparing peanuts with almonds. It is not that I do not enjoy Sehwag's batting any less, but this 200 against a rather weak windies attack hardly compares to one fetched against the S.African attack lead by Steyn. Secondly I cannot Fathom how Stephen Davies gets in based on a county performance - if so why not include Gayle for his whirlwind IPL performances? Tch Tch - I am not sure when writers will get out of their mindsets of looking only at English cricket! In which case I am not sure what made you exclude Dravid from the list - 2nd oldest man after the Don to score a 1000 test runs in a year and 5 centuries, three of which were the only piece of resistance in India's disastrous England test tour. Misbah seems to justify his choice though a lot of those performances were against Minnows. He needs to do this against and in England, S. Africa and Australia.

Posted by Tigg on (December 14, 2011, 17:45 GMT)

@abhilash.medhi

I would agree, except that Indian conditions seem to favour India much more than other home conditions favour other sides. Lets face it, even the practically invincible Aussie team of the late 90s/noughties struggled there.

Posted by abhilash.medhi on (December 14, 2011, 17:27 GMT)

@Pak-CricketElite: Given it is so easy for hosts to win the WC, other host nations must not have played it right all these years./Sarcasm off

Posted by   on (December 14, 2011, 17:17 GMT)

Brilliantly written article. Unlike many articles, this piece of writing never seemed to be one-sided. Nor did it mention and praise Indians and Indian cricket like every other Cricinfo article does. I am glad I read this one, given that Osman Samiuddin writes no longer for this site. You've got yourself a fan, Rob Steen. :)

Posted by mensan on (December 14, 2011, 16:53 GMT)

Five Cricketers of the Year: tendulkar, dravid, dhoni, sehwag, kohli, laxman, gambhir, ishant, ashwin, harbhajan, munaf, and and and.... the list goes on and on. OF COURSE THIS IS LIST BY AND FOR INDIANS.

Posted by GreenTeam-Elite on (December 14, 2011, 16:44 GMT)

Nice Article Rob...but I feel Dravid deserves to be in your 5 player's list...Well for Indians do not be emotional Remember in (WC,11) Indian team did not play even ONE match out of India to give Prove rest of the world cricket that they deserve for Champions of (WC,11). And when they played it was 0,0,0 in three formats against England. that is why Rob said it was Dull WC. Indain team should prove like West Indies (1975-1984), Australia (1999-2007) and Pakistan (1989-1992 & 2011) that they can beat every one on any type of Pitch. I am a simple Cricket Lover. best Regards for Indian team on Australia tour!!!

Posted by mensan on (December 14, 2011, 16:36 GMT)

@ CricIndia208 - What PAK did was it did not lose 4-0 to England - a WHITEWASH. Moreover you can try. PAK will beat you as well. Now you are running away from PAK.

Posted by Tigg on (December 14, 2011, 16:16 GMT)

I'd say Bell deserves it over Trott for being an attractive cricketer. No denying Trotts effectiveness but his batting is a pretty dull grind. Bell on the other hand plays a glorious drive and uses his feet superbly against spin.

Misbah and Sanga deserve their places but I have to say Davies doesn't. Brave, probably, massive impact on cricket? Not really. I'd place Dravid or perhaps Darren Bravo ahead.

As impressive as Sehwags double was he has spent most of the year as a walking wicket. King pair and not much else in England, nothing except the double vs the Windies. Likewise, Dhoni gets a lot of Kudos for teh World Cup and England whitewash, but his test match form, keeping and leadership was awful.

Posted by Tigg on (December 14, 2011, 16:14 GMT)

As an england fan i wouldn't call the world cup mostly dull. We tried our best (or perhaps, worst...) to create excitement (Ireland loss, tie with India, comeback against the Saffers).

The other group was pretty dull with a lack of upsets though, likewise the knocouts were uninspiring. At least with some of the previous world cups the finals had something spectacular (Gilly or Ponting teeing off for example). It's the knock-out rounds that need to offer the excitement for the world cup to be a genuine success and as a general rule they were uninspiring.

Posted by esesbee on (December 14, 2011, 16:03 GMT)

Hi Rob You write prose like poetry. It just flows. There is the right amount of facts and emotions and candy. You are an admirable writer. Please don't stop or change. Somo

Posted by nktoofan on (December 14, 2011, 15:51 GMT)

I would request cricinfo not to include county cricketers in their stories as it never attract mine or any other international cricket fan's attention, if they a are must in your stories please make sure to provide a link for the English fans so that we could be spare of those cricketers who we either dont know or never interested in...

Posted by Shaps on (December 14, 2011, 15:27 GMT)

Why Cricinfo degrading his brand? i feel where Harsha & Peter's(RIP) blogs exist this kind of blogs should not be there ...

Utterly Rubbish & biased view by Rob, better to have reality check. Shame & Lame.

Simply he cant stand in the class of Genuine Writer .

Posted by Full-Blooded-Wallop on (December 14, 2011, 15:17 GMT)

How can you forgot KJ O'Brien Mr Author?

Posted by Pratsman on (December 14, 2011, 15:08 GMT)

@er.vaibhav : cudnt agree more with you.. @getsetgopk : all the countries played on the SAME dirt track pitches, or are you implying that only India played on these so called flat tracks ??.. and India triumphed , so India definitely deserve the World champ tags..

Posted by sanjukta0912 on (December 14, 2011, 15:01 GMT)

I think the writer has not watched the WC.... so he is calling it dull.... whatever u say Mr.Rob, India is and will be the best foreva.... And don't ever underestimate MSDhoni....

Posted by rawcrickettalent on (December 14, 2011, 14:40 GMT)

I agree with Rob except 2 things ....WHY WAS STEVE DAVIES IN THAT LIST?????? This is bizarre.........and OH MY GOSH!! a mostly dull world cup!!! Hello???? this was dull??? This world cup was the most electrifying ever ,,,even though Pakistan lost but it was the Best world cup I have ever seen....An awesome world cup...truly ..i couldnt sleep at night without thinking about it :PPP and yeah thanks for mentioning Misbah cause he really led with Pakistan's resurgence..

Posted by er.Vaibhav on (December 14, 2011, 14:30 GMT)

I can't prevent myself from asking that did u really watch cricket in 2011...because i seriously doubt that especially your fact of dull WC and inclusion of any indian player() like Dhoni captain of world champion team,Dravid and young Kohli the guy who was second highest run scorer in odi in 2010 and furthermore Highest run scorer of 2011 odi at such a young age) it seems like u couldn't digest any sort of indian success mate..sorrybut this whole post of youris half funny and half annoying..Please write something as a neutral journalist from next time..rather then like a unreasonable Bell fan..

Posted by JLM123 on (December 14, 2011, 14:27 GMT)

Everyone will have different opinions, but don't be rude to the article writer, be more respectful please. And as for Randy Oz, you talk some rubbish mate, I was so happy when NZ showed you up.....hahahaha

Posted by vallavarayar on (December 14, 2011, 14:22 GMT)

Thoroughly fascinating read. Here's to more such gems Steen. We need some savvy bloggers in the absence of Roebuck.

Posted by safwan_Umair on (December 14, 2011, 14:18 GMT)

Excellent Article Rob. Was really pleased to read that Pakistan's cricketing resurgence has not gone unnoticed amongst the more proficient cricket writers. With the kind of odds they have faced in the last 18 months, their performance has been nothing short of spectacular. Kudos to Misbah, ajmal, younis, hafeez, afridi and company!

Posted by NALINWIJ on (December 14, 2011, 14:13 GMT)

It is good to complete the article with complete cricketer. Sangakkara the great batsman. inspirational leader, wicket keeper, lawyer and in his speech a great orator and diplomat. Has there being anyone like him?

Posted by adnan_rifat84 on (December 14, 2011, 14:08 GMT)

indians are always jealous from pakistani cricketers i don't know what's problem with you guys.i am not one who do use less and endless aurguments but barking dogs seldom bite.try to get mature respect cricket and cricketers WHO EVER is HE weather sachin misbah dhoni hafeez ajmal etc.because cricket is game of gentlemen and i never see indian crowd very gentle when ever they are going to loose on there home ground.try to b cool and calm

Posted by MrDynamic on (December 14, 2011, 14:06 GMT)

this article lacks in-depth analysis. the author simply ignored some and wrote about the people in his mind, obviously for a reason.

Posted by andysarmy on (December 14, 2011, 13:54 GMT)

Have to agree with Richard19913. Nobody who saw Cook face down Asif and Amir at the Oval in 2010 can possibly buy this flat track bully garbage. Otherwise a really interesting and thought-provoking article.

Posted by getsetgopk on (December 14, 2011, 13:09 GMT)

A dull world cup is Rob's polite way of saying that you cant call yourself champs when you play well on your familiar dirt tracks and get white washed elsewhere especially to England.

Posted by Binsy85 on (December 14, 2011, 12:55 GMT)

@RandyOz - the awards are based on 2011, so to say that Ian Bell couldn't play Shane Warne is comepletely irrelevant. And this was the same Ian Bell who hit a centruy against the Aussies in Australia in the 5th test. Bell is also widely regarded as one of the best players of spin in world cricket presently. And to claim Nathan Lyon is one of the world's best spinners is ridiculous. The only wickets he took against NZ were the tail and he's barely played any state cricket, let alone test cricket. Is h going to be as good as we were told Michael Beer, Xavier Doherty, Steve Smith et al. were all meant to be?

Posted by 200ondebut on (December 14, 2011, 12:39 GMT)

Are these comments a wind up? - Belly should be player of year because 5 years ago Shane Warne got him out a couple of times - India after their all conquering trip to England should be team of the year

..or is it April 1st. As they say though you can't argue with stupidity.

Posted by CricketPissek on (December 14, 2011, 12:30 GMT)

tammimi2010 + sal485 - It's Rob Steen's personal choice of 'men of the year' from Cricket. Not 'statistically the best players of the year'. Steve Davies' coming out of the closet was a very significant moment. Would you argue that Henry Olongo and Andy Flower deserve to be shortlisted for the 'men of the year' in cricket for 2003, for their stance against Mugabe? I wouldn't. I do however disagree that the World Cup was dull. The flat pitches and the very long league stages did spoil it somewhat, but this was not the dullest world cup by any stretch.

Posted by shadedwhite on (December 14, 2011, 12:20 GMT)

2011 WC was dull?? Rob seriously? Or maybe you meant to write this article for Page 2

Posted by EZ-Cool-Dude on (December 14, 2011, 12:01 GMT)

This made my day, a great great article because you pointed out the bright future of cricket, a great read. Its a slap in the face of all the haters of test cricket, lively pitches and players like Misbah. Hats off to you Mr. Rob Steen!

Posted by Sid-cric on (December 14, 2011, 11:59 GMT)

Dull boring world cup? Tell that to the english cricket team, particularly Graeme Swann. Which WC were you watching Rob? You got the list wrong as well. What about Dravid? His efforts this year has even got him to deliver the Sir Bradman Oration speech -> http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/current/story/545355.html

Posted by Richard19913 on (December 14, 2011, 11:39 GMT)

I think to say england's success was due partly to flat track bullying is a bit harsh. The fact of the matter is in Tests (and only in Test because we have to be one of the most shockingly inconsistent ODI teams around) the England team battered everyone who came their way this year, regardless of the wicket. To say some of the wickets they played on at home against Sri Lanka and India were flat tracks would be very harsh. You dont destroy teams with as good a batting line up as India on flat tracks as consistently as they did. It was simply a case of Englands bowlers being better then any batsman they're bowled to this year, and england's batsmen being better then any bowlers they've faced. (Bearing all this in mind i still agree that Pakistan must be the undisputed team of the year, overcoming all the problems of last year in magnificant fashion, winning cricket games, and doing so with smiles on their faces).

Posted by RandyOZ on (December 14, 2011, 11:37 GMT)

Ian Bell? You are having a laugh mate! Bell was shown up by Warne and turned into his bunny. Once of the worst players of spin on Earth. Now that the two best spin bowlers in the world have appeared (Ajmal and Lyon) just watch his average plummet!

Posted by CricIndia208 on (December 14, 2011, 11:00 GMT)

WORLD CHAMPIONS INDIA ARE TEAM OF THE YEAR. That is the truth.

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (December 14, 2011, 10:37 GMT)

I WILL SAID AGAIN DRAVID DESERVES A PLACE IN THIS LIST AND I AGREE WITH PAKISTAN BEING THE BEST TEAM THIS YEAR .

Posted by Pratsman on (December 14, 2011, 10:35 GMT)

Dull WC ?? wat are u referrin to ?? the women's WC ?? coz the WC i saw was ELECTRIFYING!! and I am not saying this coz I am an Indian Fan.. Cannot forget the Ind v/s England Tied match, England v/s Ireland (wat an upset !!) and the best of all, the Ind v/s Pakistan match !! sigh.. guys like Rob Steen cannot understand or even begin to comprehend the Ind-Pak rivalry..

Posted by Y2SJ on (December 14, 2011, 10:28 GMT)

Could have mentioned England failed to win even one ODI against India even when WI managed to win one. That showed how England was a good test side but a pathetic ODI side. Further proof, their 10 wicket loss to SL and the loss to Ireland in WC.

Posted by tammimi2010 on (December 14, 2011, 10:26 GMT)

Davies gets in for being Gay? Really????I thought there should have been a mention of Indian team players (and I am a Pakistani by the way)...I really appreciate the mention that Misbah got..he deserves it!

Posted by swingstowin on (December 14, 2011, 9:50 GMT)

good job Rob Steen!! And to all those who seem bemused by the inclusion of Misbah Ul Haq,you need to find out what Pakistan cricket has been through over this last one and half years!!the spot fixing scandal,no cricket at home yet their winning % is only next to england...wonder how many matches other teams would win if they are not allowed to play at home at all..!! and to lead a side in a manner he did certainly merits his inclusion in top 5 of 2011... Though, i think Rahul Dravid should have been there in place of Davies. he showed his class when his team mates didnt know which side of the bat they should play with!!

Posted by JG2704 on (December 14, 2011, 9:46 GMT)

Got to be honest Davies is a strange selection for me. If I was to include only one English player it would be Broad. The guy had immense pressure on him pre India with the threat of being dropped and not only was he our best with the ball , but his inns in the (I think it was) the 2nd test could have been pivotal to us eventually winning that test and eventually the series and the no 1 spot. I also feel Rahul Dravid deserves a mention. He was so dogged when the other batsmen were losing their wickets left right and centre. A class act on and off the field

Posted by sal485 on (December 14, 2011, 9:44 GMT)

Great Article from Rob. Pakistan remains the team of year with 77% win ratio in ODI , 80% in T20 , and not loosing any of 5 test series this year. But I disagree that 2011 worldcup was dull , and stephen davies name shoudn,t have been there. Best inning in 2011 was of sehwag ,Best batman Sangakara ,best bowler Ajmal . Trot was better selection than bell.

Posted by shahidlawyer on (December 14, 2011, 9:32 GMT)

you are 200% right that this is a Dull world cup in all it senses although its big harsh for Indian Fans but its a FACT. Pakistan Team performed beautifully in this year

Posted by StarsnStumps on (December 14, 2011, 9:31 GMT)

Dull world cup? Did u watch the same world cup as everyone else? which one did u like the 2007 or the 2003 edition? even for English fans this world cup wasn't dull with their rollercoaster ride ... and i think ajmal deserves a mention here as well ... as does dravid and what about broad?? clearly THE most improved bowler ... and Steve Davies for coming out of the closet? really??

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (December 14, 2011, 9:24 GMT)

OK ROB I AGREE WITH YOU THAT DHONI SHOULD N'T BE HERE . BUT WHAT ABOUT DRAVID HE SCORED 6 TEST CENTURIES THIS YEAR OUT OF WHICH 4 COMES ABROAD AND 3 IN ENGLAND WHICH CAME AGAINST BEST BOWLING ATTACK IN THE WORLD . AND YOU SAY THE WORLD CUP WAS DULL . I THINK YOU WERE REFERIING TO 2007 WC .

Posted by Binsy85 on (December 14, 2011, 9:20 GMT)

Excellent article Rob, particularly Ian Bell finally getting recognition for his transformation from boy to man. However, must counter those people clambering to get Tendulkar and Dhoni in the list - have you watched any cricket this year? Tendulkar was a walking wicket in England in the Test series and coulnd't even make a hundred in the last test against possibly the worst attack in test cricket (WI) on such a flat pitch that R Ashwin even managed a century. As for Dhoni, fine player but his performance as batsmen, keeper and captain in the England tour was up there with the most abject performance in a test cricket series. Accepted, Dravid deserves an honourable mention for his achievements this year and Virat Kohli has the ingredients to be the next Indian superstar, but the other 2 are non starters this year at least.

Posted by satish619chandar on (December 14, 2011, 8:41 GMT)

Hmmm.. This article can well be ignored as a personal opinion of one and only guy.. Davies announcing his sexual orientation bags him one of the Top 5 Men of the year in cricket? I dont mind inclusion or exclusion of any player.. But there could have been atleast a criteria to pick the players..

Posted by Amol_Ind_SA on (December 14, 2011, 8:33 GMT)

WC2011 was the best since WC1999. No one-sidedness in the contests that is. And AUS did lose a WC match ...finally at last. Eng was never going to win anyway.

Posted by Y2SJ on (December 14, 2011, 8:17 GMT)

Mostly dull world cup? Is the author referring to a different one than what I saw? England's games against Ireland, India and South Africa alone spiced things up. Not to mention the SL Vs England, Aus Vs India, India Vs SL and the SL Vs India games. This world cup was not at all dull.

Posted by SamRoy on (December 14, 2011, 7:57 GMT)

"A mostly dull world cup" Is it because it was played on sub-continent pitches? Or is it because the sub-continent teams were by far the best teams of the tournament? Or is it because England got their backsides handed to them? That's probably the worst line in the whole writeup. It was easily the finest world cup in 2000's (No team won all matches, no hosts (except Bangladesh) were eliminated early). Packed stands on almost all major matches, exciting group league (dull one made exciting by England) and excellent matches in the knockout stage (except Sri lanka vs England). India's test series in England and the Ashes last year were far more dull one sided contests.

Posted by Ronsars on (December 14, 2011, 7:39 GMT)

2011 a "dull" World Cup????????I feel Dravid deserved a mention in the article......

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (December 14, 2011, 6:47 GMT)

Would have substituted Trott for Ian Bell to be honest and maybe added in Misbah for his failure in the WC but brilliance in captaincy

Posted by CricIndia208 on (December 14, 2011, 6:14 GMT)

Complete rubbish. M.S.Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar have to be in there for leading WORLD CUP WINNERS INDIA to world cup victory (former) and for the 50th test hundred (Sachin). And Misbah-ul-who? LOL! Try not to die laughing. What has he or pakistan done? Beat Bangaldesh and Zimbabwe. HaHaHa. pakistan even managed to lose to WI and of course they were kicked out of the World Cup by India as usual. My cricketers of the year are: M.S. Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Andrew Strauss, Virat Kohli and Dale Steyn.

Posted by Gupta.Ankur on (December 14, 2011, 6:12 GMT)

Well don't what he was thinking while writing this nonsense...........maybe he needs to attend a course in Sports journalism himself...

Posted by abhilash.medhi on (December 14, 2011, 6:11 GMT)

Ian Bell, Sangakkara, Bishoo are all players that merit selection. I highly doubt the inclusion of Stephen Davies though. Of course this is Rob Steen's list and does not have to representative of what the entire world believes. Still, what are we going to see next? An honourable mention to Michael Yardy? For having the 'courage' to cite depression and opt out of national duty halfway through the World Cup? If there had to be one entry based on sentiment alone, it could have been MS Dhoni, Rahul Dravid or Andrew Strauss. Dhoni for leading India to World Cup glory, playing and talking to the press through the pounding they received in England and then staging a minor recovery in India; Dravid for scoring heavily and standing amidst the ruins in England; and Strauss for leading his team to No. 1 status in the world and for honourably managing his resources (or the lack thereof) at the World Cup.

Posted by Mob_King on (December 14, 2011, 5:53 GMT)

Fantastic article Rob! Great to see you taking into consideration the bigger acts at play outside of pure statistics and The Game itself.

Your Top 5 is spot on and sets the benchmark for this years "Best of ... " articles.

Posted by atulthelegend on (December 14, 2011, 5:48 GMT)

The world cup was dull and boring? Speak for yourself Rob. Just because England didn't achieve anything manageable in the world cup doesn't make it boring from the rest of the world. Pak's resurgence started from there and we saw Australia's invincibility being torn to pieces. We saw the battle of the subcontinent giants in the final. And yes your home team was defeated by Bangladesh.

Posted by Daps277 on (December 14, 2011, 5:46 GMT)

Good read Rob, although id have liked to see Steve Finn in that list. He's developing in to a world class bowler and probably be at the top in the years to come. Some highlights for me personally in this year were: England winning the ashes, England's 4-0 mauling of india, SA vs Aus 2nd test and the recently concluded Hobart test. England for me was the team of 2011, they were solid through out the year defeating Aussies first and then indians in away and home series. India winning the worldcup probably deserves a mention although it was at home.

Posted by jonesy2 on (December 14, 2011, 5:30 GMT)

ian bell? you couldnt pay me to watch that guy bat.

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Rob Steen Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton, whose books include biographies of Desmond Haynes and David Gower (Cricket Society Literary Award winner) and 500-1 - The Miracle of Headingley '81. His investigation for the Wisden Cricketer, "Whatever Happened to the Black Cricketer?", won the UK section of the 2005 EU Journalism Award "For diversity, against discrimination". His latest book, Floodlights and Touchlines: A History of Spectator Sport, will be published in the summer of 2014

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