ICC awards September 17, 2009

Outrage in South Africa over ICC awards


The ICC's prestigious annual awards appears to have run into a controversy with several high-profile figures from South Africa, including Gerald Majola, the national cricket board's chief executive, criticising the final selection process for not including a single South African player. Majola questioned the credibility of the awards - which will be presented in Johannesburg on October 1 - and said it appeared to him that the only way to get on the shortlist was to play the Ashes.

Majola's views have been echoed by Mickey Arthur, the South Africa coach, who said the "very disappointing" nominations shortlist would motivate his players to perform better in the ICC Champions Trophy starting on September 22. Allan Donald, the former South Africa fast bowler and a member of the awards voting panel, admitted that he was surprised by the shortlist. Journalist Neil Manthorp, the only other South African on the 25-member panel, wrote that the honour of being on that jury had turned into an embarrassment. Cricinfo has also received angry emails from readers complaining about the omissions.

When contacted, an ICC spokesperson said that the awards nomination "is a completely independent process in which the ICC has no say whatsoever".

"To me, it looks like the only way to get on these nomination lists is to play the Ashes," Majola told Cricinfo. "Unfortunately, our players don't play for England or Australia. That seems to be the criteria to select these awards. I don't know what the criteria are for these nominations but I simply can't believe that this has happened to South African players. My personal opinion is that this doesn't lend credibility to this year's awards, for sure. To rub salt to our wounds, the awards ceremony is being held in our country.

"I am totally dismayed and disappointed. The last season was one of the best ever for South Africa and there were a lot of outstanding performances by our players. In my personal opinion, there were at least three South African players who should have figured on the shortlist. But I am not going to name them because I don't want to drag our players into this issue when they are preparing for the Champions Trophy. I haven't spoken to them about this either."

Donald revealed that he had nominated two South African players for the shortlist. "But I am surprised to see that there is no one from South Africa in the final list," he told Cricinfo.

The long list of nominations for the individual awards was prepared by a five-member ICC panel headed by Clive Lloyd, the ICC's cricket committee chairman, and including Anil Kumble, Mudassar Nazar, Bob Taylor and Stephen Fleming. The performance period taken into account was August 13, 2008 to August 24, 2009. This list was then sent to the ICC's independent panel of 25 members - including two South Africans, Allan Donald and Manthorp - to vote for the shortlist of the top four contenders in each category.

The independent panel included former players Ian Healy, Ramiz Raja, Athar Ali Khan, Allan Donald, Bob Willis, Sidath Wettimuny, Srinivas Venkataraghavan, Ian Bishop, Jeremy Coney, Dave Houghton, Roland Lefebvre. The media was represented by Jim Maxwell (Aus), Osman Samiuddin (Cricinfo's Pakistan editor), Sayeed Uzzaman (Ban), Neil Manthorp (SA), Scyld Berry (Eng), Ramil Abeynaike (SL), Sharda Ugra (Ind), Fazeer Mohammed (WI), Richard Boock (NZ), Enock Nuchinjo (Zim) and Jon Coates (Associates). The officials were ICC referees elite panel representative: Alan Hurst; ICC umpires elite panel representative: Billy Bowden and chairman of the ICC cricket committee: Clive Lloyd.

While the shortlist was announced on Tuesday, the category winners will be known only on awards night. The votes have already been collated by Ernst and Young, who acted as independent auditors.

South Africa are currently the No. 1 Test and ODI team on the ICC rankings and the long list, reflecting this, featured four South African players. Graeme Smith, who led his team to their first Test series win ever in Australia, and AB deVilliers, who hit two match-winning centuries against Australia - one of them set up that historic away series win - were nominated for Cricketer of the Year and Test Player of the Year; Dale Steyn, who was ICC's Test Player of the Year in 2008, also featured on the long list for the best Test player; and Wayne Parnell, the left-arm fast bowler, was nominated for the best Twenty20 International Performance of the year.

None of them made it to the final four in their categories.

Writing on the SuperSport website, Manthorp said the fault lay not with the ICC but with the system used for determining the award winners. The 25-member panel has to select the final nominees from a dozen or more names on the long list, which, he said, was simply too time-consuming to be done thoroughly. There were "plenty of Proteas" on the long list, he said, but not having played for three months meant they were "out of sight and out of mind."

Andrew Strauss, the England captain, and Mitchell Johnson, the Australian fast bowler, figure in both the shortlists (of four players each) for Cricketer of the Year and Test Player of the Year. MS Dhoni, the India captain and Gautam Gambhir, the India opener, are the other shortlisted nominees for Cricketer of the Year; Gambhir and Thilan Samaraweera, the Sri Lankan batsman, are also in the race for the best Test player.

However, South African players can still be part of the awards night by featuring in the best Test and ODI teams for the last year that will be announced at the ceremony. Smith, for instance, was named captain of the best Test selection last time in a team that also featured Jacques Kallis and Steyn. Herchelle Gibbs was part of the best ODI selection last year.

Ajay Shankar is a deputy editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Steve on September 19, 2009, 10:11 GMT

    Have to laugh at Majola's comment about Ashes - has he seen the nationality of half the "'English" squad?!

  • vilash on September 19, 2009, 10:01 GMT

    the stasguru says sa hasnt played much cricket so how can their players be nominated.they wanna be nominated for the series victory in australia.india and australia played so much cricket so thats they r nominated.sa should play more cricket to get nominated.and please check out the statsguru and then comment.thanks.

  • seshu on September 19, 2009, 6:48 GMT

    i personally feel.M.S.DHONI dont deserve any of these nominations short list, he has not done any thing for india, he has not produced single winning knock for country, where southafricans, had very awesome season, winning test series against aus in their grounds plus won two one day series and has be top spot in ICC ranking tables. really shameful as ICC has not even nominated single southafrican player for their achivement, i feel STRAUSS should name cricketer of the yr,AB VILLERS and DUMMINY, SMITH DESERVE FOR NOMINATIONA, where as emerging and best twenty 20 performer goes to WAYNE PARNELL and SAHID AFRIDI.. GHAMBIR be named as test player and cricketer of the yr, for scoring 1000 runs in boths forms.. SAMERWEERA played so well, but all flat pitches, where he has not played on bouncy conditions.. so that will be his real test!!!! where do these people come from, Johnson and others???

  • chris on September 19, 2009, 4:01 GMT

    I don't know what all the fuss is about Andrew Strauss is a South African so they really do have one in the running. There are 2 Indian players as well who didn't play in the Ashes so the argument is stupid really.

  • Rezaul on September 19, 2009, 3:06 GMT

    Like most of the responders, I also truly believe that ICC is nothing but the power practice saga of India, Aus and Eng. Having said that they have blindly nominated one dimensional players on the cricketer of the year category which should have been reserved for the outstanding players who are exceptional in all form of the game. Mitchell Johnson is nominated without any reason to be mentioned. Dhoni is always clever to move himself in the friendly batting conditions, moreover when openers give solid foundations. I did not find a single instance when Dhoni promoted himself early in the innings in a swing condition or dangerous position. In fact, players like Smith, AB, Duminy, Shakib, Steyn were omitted from the short list which is surprising. I agree with no Pakistani players nomination as they did not play enough cricket in that period to be considered. Again, things should be sorted out before it goes out of control, actual merit should be rewarded not politics! <Arzoo, USA>

  • Martin on September 19, 2009, 0:07 GMT

    Well Steyn deserves the award, if he wants it he's welcome to come over to Oz and play in the next ashes!

  • Amarpreet on September 18, 2009, 23:03 GMT

    In response to cricketbloods comments, i agree that it is shocking that not Proteas cricketer is shortlisted, but you have not right in stripping that honour from either DHONI or GAMBHIR, both have had phenomenal seasons!!!!!!!

  • Sriram on September 18, 2009, 22:32 GMT

    I completely agree with vrms. ICC must appoint a 20 member panel for each match and the panel should award positive and negative points to each players. Everything should be taken into account. After all, statistics should not be the only criteria. The panel should pay close attention to the shape of the ball, its color, the number of spectators affecting the players performance, the color of the sky (and its correlation with the color of the ball and the sightscreen), the position of the sun and the position and size of the moon (the previous night) and the shape of the clouds. All the above must be used to rate the quality of a playeers performance. Judging a players performance by ignoring any of these factors is tantamount to making a mockery of the sacred game of cricket. And if you reevaluate the performance of all the players taking all these into consideration, you will see that only the south african players will get selected. Others wont even stand a chance.

  • Varun on September 18, 2009, 20:15 GMT

    I think the two countries that shoud be taking most of the awards should be SA and IND mainly because of thier form over the last year and thier rising....Australia has fallen badly and yet they have more players representing them than SA...this is stupid..btw Duminy would have been my pick for this year....he has played brilliantly

  • diren on September 18, 2009, 18:02 GMT

    its sad that the best team in all formats of the game has been overlooked.......very sad.....but i know smith and co wont really mind because they have bigger things on there mind, like winning the champs trophy!!!! The world knows who the best team is....SA.... and thats a fact!

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