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ESPNcricinfo's stats editor S Rajesh looks at the stories behind the stats

Hits and misses among the ICC's nominees

A look at the stats of the players who have been shortlisted for the awards, and others who could have made the cut

S Rajesh

August 31, 2012

Comments: 28 | Text size: A | A

Graeme Smith survived an lbw review early on, England v South Africa, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 4th day, August 5, 2012
Graeme Smith isn't in the ICC's Test Team of the Year despite averaging 54.66 in the last 12 months © AFP

The shortlist is out for ICC's annual awards, with four nominees in each of the major categories, as well as a Test team of the year. Do all the players in the shortlist deserve to be there, or are there other deserving names who have missed the cut? How have the players named in the Test team fared compared to those who've missed the cut? Here's a look at the stats for batsmen and bowlers, in Tests and ODIs, between August 4, 2011, and August 6, 2012, the period that the ICC has taken into consideration for the awards. (All stats in the tables below are for performances during this period.)

Test batting
The period below has been a pretty good one for the top batsmen, with 12 batsmen scoring 750-plus runs at 50-plus averages. (The overall runs per wicket during this period was a middling 32.83, which means these success stories were compensated by other batting failures.) With the 750-run cut-off, Hashim Amla's average of 65.35 is the highest, marginally ahead of Shivnarine Chanderpaul's 65. Chanderpaul doesn't find himself in the Test Cricketer of the Year shortlist, but his performances have found him a place in the Test XI. Not only did Chanderpaul score plenty, most of his runs came against pretty good attacks too: his hundreds were scored in India and against Australia, while he made 87 not out and 91 in England.

However, there are also strong cases in favour of Kumar Sangakkara and Michael Clarke, the two batsmen other than Amla - who's a shoo-in anyway - in the batting shortlist. Sangakkara topped the run-charts during this period with 1444 runs at 60.16, including one double-hundred and two 190s. Most of his runs came in Asia as he played 11 of his 14 Tests there, but he also managed a century in Durban in the Boxing Day Test, which led Sri Lanka to their first Test win in South Africa.

Clarke scored tough runs in Sri Lanka and South Africa, and then remorselessly pounded India's weak attack in the Australian summer, scoring a triple and double-century. His aggregate of 1355 runs was the second-highest during this period.

In the Test line-up, Amla has been pushed up to open the innings to accommodate Sangakkara, Kallis, Clarke and Chanderpaul in the middle order, but there was a strong case for Graeme Smith to take an opener's slot, even ahead of Alastair Cook. In ten Tests, Smith scored 820 runs at 54.66, with hundreds against Australia in a fourth-innings run-chase, against New Zealand and England. Cook, on the other hand, had a patchy year: he did score 1005 runs, but 294 of them came in one innings against a listless Indian attack at Edgbaston. Exclude that innings, and his average drops to 39.50. Smith's case is strong even if the comparison is purely on batting terms, excluding his contributions as captain in what was a superb year for South Africa. Mohammad Hafeez was the other opener with strong overall numbers, but two of his three Test centuries came against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.

Kallis finds a place in a middle order on the back of 660 runs at 55, but it was a strange year for him: though he scored three hundreds, including a double, he was also dismissed without scoring four times in 14 innings. On the other hand, there were more consistent middle-order performances by AB de Villiers - who only got the 12th man's slot - Azhar Ali and Marlon Samuels. De Villiers topped 50 in seven out of 14 innings and was dismissed for less than 25 only twice, Azhar scored four centuries and five fifties in 21 innings, while Samuels had an outstanding series in England in conditions which favoured seam and swing bowling. (Kallis' bowling wasn't a huge factor either in the last year - he took nine wickets in nine Tests at 46.11.)

Best averages for batsmen in the last year in Tests (Qual: 750 runs)
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Hashim Amla 10 915 65.35 3/ 4
Shivnarine Chanderpaul 11 975 65.00 2/ 6
AB de Villiers 10 807 62.07 1/ 6
Kumar Sangakkara 14 1444 60.16 5/ 5
Younis Khan 12 948 59.25 3/ 3
Michael Clarke 14 1355 58.91 5/ 2
Marlon Samuels 10 846 56.40 2/ 6
Graeme Smith 10 820 54.67 3/ 5
Azhar Ali 12 1028 54.10 4/ 5
Mohammad Hafeez 12 1064 53.20 3/ 4
Alastair Cook 12 1005 52.89 2/ 3
Kevin Pietersen 12 953 50.15 3/ 3

Test bowling
Vernon Philander was the obvious choice to make the cut, but Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal had a terrific year too, taking 72 wickets in 12 Tests at 24.29, including two Man-of-the-Match awards. However, he does make the ICC's Test team as the only specialist spinner, ahead of Rangana Herath and Graeme Swann (46 wickets at 31.13). There's little to argue over the fast-bowlers' slots, as Philander, Stuart Broad and Dale Steyn have clearly been the three best ones. James Anderson had a pretty good year too, but his 40 wickets came at an average of 29.02, with only one five-for in 11 Tests.

Best bowling averages in the last year in Tests (Qual: 40 wickets)
Bowler Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Vernon Philander 9 56 16.57 33.1 6/ 2
Stuart Broad 10 47 24.10 51.9 2/ 1
Dale Steyn 10 44 24.18 48.5 2/ 0
Saeed Ajmal 12 72 24.29 56.0 3/ 1
Peter Siddle 10 43 24.39 47.9 1/ 0
Abdur Rehman 9 41 25.02 59.2 2/ 0
Rangana Herath 13 70 25.24 60.5 6/ 1
Kemar Roach 9 42 25.59 44.9 3/ 1

ODI batting
The Indians had a terrible year in Test cricket, with none of them scoring 750 runs or taking 40 wickets: Rahul Dravid led the batsmen's list for India with 712 runs, while R Ashwin topped the bowlers' chart with 31 wickets. However, in ODIs, the Indians were dominant, especially in batting. Four Indian batsmen scored more than 750 ODI runs, with two of them, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni, doing so at stunning averages and strike rates. Those two batsmen clearly deserve to be in the ICC shortlist, while Sangakkara was the second-highest run-getter in the year, with 1457 at an average of almost 43.

However, there were a few other batsmen who would have been strong contenders: Clarke was consistency personified, with six 50-plus scores plus four forties in 18 innings, in which he averaged 50.60; Gautam Gambhir did well too, scoring 1004 runs at 41.83. Then there were the South Africans who don't figure in the shortlists only because they didn't play enough matches: de Villiers scored 475 runs in eight innings, and Amla 419. Both would surely have been strong contenders had South Africa played more ODIs.

Best batting averages in the last year in ODIs (Qual: 750 runs)
Batsman ODIs Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
MS Dhoni 25 859 78.09 95.23 0/ 8
Virat Kohli 31 1733 66.65 92.77 8/ 6
Michael Clarke 19 759 50.60 79.55 1/ 5
Alastair Cook 20 882 46.42 86.21 3/ 6
Kumar Sangakkara 37 1457 42.85 76.88 3/ 9
Gautam Gambhir 25 1004 41.83 84.79 2/ 8

ODI bowling
Laith Malinga was by far the leading wicket-taker during the period under consideration - and seems to have been shortlisted on that basis alone - but Malinga's overall numbers weren't particularly impressive over the last year: he took 62 wickets in 37 matches, but at an average of 27.59, and an economy rate of 5.40 runs per over. In 20 of those 37 matches, he went at five an over or more, and in three of those games his economy rate exceeded eight an over.

On the other hand, Sunil Narine was superb in his 15 ODIs, taking 28 wickets at 18.82 and an economy rate of 3.66 (though it can be argued that he didn't play enough to figure in the shortlist). Steven Finn was superb for England, averaging almost two wickets per match, while Ajmal also took plenty of wickets while keeping a tight control over the runs conceded.

Best bowling averages in the last year in ODIs (Qual: 25 wickets)
Bowler ODIs Wickets Average Econ rate Strike rate
Sunil Narine 15 28 18.82 3.66 30.8
Steven Finn 18 35 20.94 4.47 28.0
Saeed Ajmal 23 37 22.56 4.16 32.5
Clint McKay 17 27 23.88 4.52 31.6
Shahid Afridi 22 32 26.43 4.61 34.3
Thisara Perera 23 34 26.82 5.55 28.9
Brett Lee 20 31 27.38 5.23 31.3
Lasith Malinga 37 62 27.59 5.40 30.6

There were also shortlists announced for women's matches played during this period. Click on the links to check out the leading run-scorers and wicket-takers in women's ODIs, and the run-scorers and wicket-takers in women's Twenty20 internationals.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

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Posted by   on (September 2, 2012, 23:14 GMT)

Smith as usual, underrated by the "experts". Despite being one of the most influential players of his generation, and being in top form of late. I'm sure he will laugh off the irrelevance of these little awards though, with the mace tucked under his arm and team results speaking for themselves.

Posted by serious-am-i on (September 2, 2012, 0:03 GMT)

@Farrukh.91: Shakib doesn't make the list because of the cut off numbers. While Ajmal missing is quite baffling especially ahead of Malinga, who constantly struggled against India. This got nothing to do with the Indian lobby, if it did Rahul Dravid might have some how sneaked in or at least 1 Indian player might have got into ICC XI of the year. So, stop blaming BCCI for everything that happens around & make mature statements.

Posted by Farrukh.91. on (September 1, 2012, 20:33 GMT)

the Indian lobby and funds have started to show their impact, where are AJMAL & SHAKIB?????? the most unfair judgement of the year, perhaps in last 10 years.

Posted by   on (September 1, 2012, 17:48 GMT)

Saeed Ajmal deserved to be nominated. performing consistently for such a long period and winning series on his own only. what a misjudgement.

Posted by   on (September 1, 2012, 17:29 GMT)

Looking at the bowling stats Saeed Ajmal is looking far ahead than top 4 bowlers above him. He has max 72 wickets in only 12 test, also much better in ODIs than those selected. Somehow the planners have managed to axed him... its like not calling the best fighter there is just because he will win. SHAME on this ommission. Actually this is a failed contest.

Posted by mumerashfaq on (September 1, 2012, 11:52 GMT)

Ajmal Missed, Billy Bowden nominated..........Absolute Shockers.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (September 1, 2012, 4:00 GMT)

@Akshay Katiyar on (August 31 2012, 06:26 AM GMT) You, and others keep repeating the same mistake. You conveniently ignore the fact that, as you put it, "on a pitch where batsman stayed as long as a metro train stays at a station," both Smith AND Amla scored centuries. Clarke was by no means the only player to prosper on that pitch, and there is nothing particularly remarkable about his century. He certainly was not on fire in the second innings, with 2 runs. For that matter, Aus only took 12 South African wickets in the test!

Posted by   on (September 1, 2012, 2:51 GMT)

I'm an Indian, but I'd definitely say - if there's one player who has missed out due to the qualification cut-off for number of matches it's Shakib Al-Hasan ..

Posted by Ncnotorious on (September 1, 2012, 0:20 GMT)

chanderpaul not in the test batting shortlist is a travesty...he played against stronger opposition than every1 there...

Posted by   on (August 31, 2012, 23:46 GMT)

And so the cricket life goes on....

Posted by   on (August 31, 2012, 20:56 GMT)


Posted by crazy.mechanic on (August 31, 2012, 19:53 GMT)

@Xaks--why don't u see this in a way any international player would look. It is a matter of pride for them to be in the world XI( that is if u have played the game at any level). I play at zonals and i have a small team but being the best amongst them is what i pride and value!!! The game is not being played for the spectators!

Posted by tisra on (August 31, 2012, 17:05 GMT)

Between August 4, 2011, and August 6, 2012, the period that the ICC has taken into consideration for the awards, Shakib has 451 runs averaging 50.11, 21 wickets averaging 28.61 in tests; 490 runs averaging 49.16, 22 wickets averaging 25.50 in ODI. Its a shame he doesn't get to play enough matches to cut the qual :-(

Posted by   on (August 31, 2012, 15:20 GMT)

Saeed Ajmal have won the heart of all nations who played & know about cricket. He has been well acknowledged by all the cricketers, commentators, umpires, fans and even the opposition in the field.... actually the stupid selectors did the right thing Saeed Ajmal doest not deserve to be in the list because he deserves category "Dad of Cricket" which is not available here

Posted by ThatsAlright on (August 31, 2012, 14:37 GMT)

Alright Sir. Kallis' bowling wasn't a huge factor, statistically, but practically. And of course Sanga's wicket keeping credentials as a back up to Prior in test level. They all count!

Posted by   on (August 31, 2012, 14:00 GMT)

wheres ajmal?? ICC had made it wrong again..!!

Posted by   on (August 31, 2012, 11:52 GMT)

Saeed Ajmal surely hard done. He was surely the best bowler through all formats of the game. He should have atleast made it to the cricketer of the year list. He bowled far better than Malinga in ODI's.

Posted by Javed_Munir_Dar on (August 31, 2012, 10:48 GMT)

these awards have no value, cricket was much much better for over a century without these awards, no player would b included in the team just bcoz of his inclusion in ICC team or having ICC awards, its his performance on the ground which will count

Posted by khurramsch on (August 31, 2012, 10:16 GMT)

no saeed ajmal in any of the 3 short lists? strange.

Posted by Romanticstud on (August 31, 2012, 9:25 GMT)

Amla, Smith and De Villiers ... Steyn and Philander ... No wonder SA are number 1 ... without Kallis ... in the listings ... And then the selection system is flawed ... because SA cannot be considered in ODIs ... I would say Kohli should get the ODI prize 8 hundreds ... Narine for his economy in ODis should get the bowling ... In tests Amla and Philander are a cut above ... Amla also for the 311 not out against England should get the performance award ... Philander for his performance against Australia ...

Posted by Vibhanu on (August 31, 2012, 9:09 GMT)

The longer you play harder it gets to score consistently.It's true Srilankan's played more matches.But ,maintain your physical fitnees and consistency in performance is not an easy thing.People can argue because they played more matches there are more Srilankans in award lists.If you take South Africa they played all of their games in South Africa,New Zealand and England while Srilankans played all over the world.If South Africans cant play on fast pitches who else can( South Africans wern't even in the Semi's in sub continent world cup )

Posted by Xaks on (August 31, 2012, 8:36 GMT)

Why giving so much importance to this? nobody remembers who was the best ODI/ Test batsman/ bowler even after one month.... and what is the role of ICC Test team? so its all just wasting time and nothing more... because you can never short list all good players.... and you can never make everyone happy!!!

Posted by Clan_McLachlan on (August 31, 2012, 8:20 GMT)

Cricketer of the Year should have been Sangakkara or Saeed Ajmal - they are the only two players who would currently make a World XI in ALL three formats. Test Cricketer should go to Philander, but he hasn't even played the other two formats.

Smith should have been opener in the Test team but that would have meant dropping Clarke, leaving the team without a single Aussie. Can't have that now, can we.

Posted by   on (August 31, 2012, 7:26 GMT)

My Test Cricketer Of The Year Is Michael Clarke without a shadow of doubt...and that innings he played against SA in SA scoring 60 % of the team runs as captain...with a decent strike rate on a pitch where batsman stayed as long as a metro train stays at a station..i think the pup deserves it...

Posted by   on (August 31, 2012, 7:06 GMT)

Gosh why did South Africa play so few ODI's this year?

Posted by Emancipator007 on (August 31, 2012, 6:38 GMT)

Ajmal just WOW records in both formats.Wish he plays till 40 to be rated a legend on end career records as his career began too late. Sanga has been the underrated GREAT of this era & slowly correcting past records in SA/Eng.SL never get more than 2 Tests to acclimatize or adjust in Eng/SA/OZ, otherwise players like De Silva,Sanga would have had greater career records.Kohli is just outstanding, it is unprecedented for top-order ODI bats to have 50 plus Av. (unlike past decade when Hussey,Bevan,Dhoni used to have 50 plus Av. cos of Not Outs cos of lower order batting positions).So Hash, Kohli needs to be LAUDED.Finn coming on beautifully.Philander on way to be next great SA pace great,he is more ambitious than Ntini ever was.Azhar quietly becoming a middle-order pivot.Younis has maintained a very good Test record despite his ODI freefall in same period.Look out for Chandimal (along with Kohli best current young bats)with V. good ODI records in OZ/SA.

Posted by sifter132 on (August 31, 2012, 5:45 GMT)

"There's little to argue over the fast-bowlers' slots, as Philander, Stuart Broad and Dale Steyn have clearly been the three best ones" Hilfenhaus? 37 wickets @ 18.something? Bowling on unresponsive West Indies and Aussie pitches vs the vaunted Indian batting lineup? Steyn and Philander have played on juicy/bouncy pitches all year. Hilfy didn't quite meet your 40 wicket cutoff or he would have been in there you'd think. I thought Samuels was a great shout for the all-rounder spot over Kallis, and I thought Cook and Prior got in on reputation alone. Other guys were just as deserving, if not more so.

Posted by SICHO on (August 31, 2012, 4:38 GMT)

Proteas played 10 Tests while Sri Lanka played 14, and they also played 8 ODIs while Sri Lanka played 37. Then players like Sanga and Malinga are nominated simply because they played more matches, yeah right!!! No Amla, no AB, why?? Because they played only 8 matches. This is ridiculous and absurd.

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.

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