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June 6, 2012
Of the achievements Vernon Philander has to his name - the second-fastest man to 50 Test wickets in cricket's history and six five-wicket hauls in seven matches - a hat-trick is not one of them. Until now. Philander scooped three major awards at the CSA's annual gala dinner on Wednesday night, including the main prize - Cricketer of the Year.
He was the obvious choice from a list of nominees that also included his bowling partners Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel and batsmen AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla. Never in South Africa's cricket history has a Test player been more successful after seven matches. His feats include a match haul of eight for 78 on debut against Australia, which included five for 15 in an innings that saw the opponents bowled out for 47. He also claimed a five-for in the next Test against Australia to be named man of the series. He took 16 wickets in two Tests against Sri Lanka and 21 wickets in three Tests in New Zealand, including 10 wickets in the second Test in Hamilton. Currently, Philander's Test average sits at 14.15.
Philander's dream start to Test cricket came after he was dropped from the limited-overs side after a shaky start in 2007. He spent two intense seasons in the domestic game during which he claimed 96 wickets and began his Test career with the lowest averages among all bowlers who had taken more than 250 first-class wickets - 20.04. Philander was given the new ball for South Africa and he used it to devastating effect, combining his ability to move the ball both ways with unrelenting accuracy. For his efforts, he was also adjudged Test player of the year and Fans' Cricketer of the Year.
As he does on the field, Philander left few rewards for the rest to share at the prize-giving. New limited-overs captain de Villiers was named ODI Cricketer of the Year for his 475 runs in eight matches against Sri Lanka and New Zealand, including two centuries. De Villiers' creative leadership and never-ending enthusiasm also saw him chosen as Players' Player of the Year. Record-breaking Richard Levi, who holds the highest T20I individual score - 117 - won the Twenty20 award while young quick Marchant de Lange, who took seven for 81 on Test debut, was recognised as international newcomer of the year.
There was a familiar name among the list of domestic winners. Opening batsmen Alviro Petersen was named first-class cricketer of the year for topping the SuperSport Series rankings charts. Petersen was dropped from the national side at the beginning of the 2011-12 season and fought his way back into the team with 816 runs at an average of 62.76, including three centuries.
Batsmen completed the list of domestic awards. Dean Elgar, who was selected for the national squad to play in ODIs against Sri Lanka but had to withdraw because of an injury, won the 1-Day Cup player of the year prize. He scored 567 runs in 10 matches for the Knights and was the top run-scorer in the competition. Farhaan Behardien, who has been included in the Twenty20 squad for this month's unofficial tri-series in Zimbabwe was named domestic Twenty20 player of the year. He beat another player who has been included in that squad, Chris Morris, to the title.
For winning both the SuperSport Series and the Twenty20 competition, the Titans' Matthew Maynard was judged coach of the year, in his first season at the franchise. When Maynard was unveiled last September, he was jokingly told he had to win seven trophies in three seasons and he started off well in that quest.
Earlier in the day, CSA honoured the amateur cricketers, handing out prizes to, amongst other, the top women's cricketer, Shandré Fritz and under-19 Cricketer of the Year, Quinton de Kock. There was also a special lifetime achievement award which was given to Ewie Cronje, for his years of service to Free State Cricket. Cronje, father of the former captain Hansie, has been involved in the province's structures since their formation in 1969.
Cronje, in the words for former national coach Corrie van Zyl, took Free State from "a Cinderella province to a team that could win." He famously predicted Free State would win the 1989 Benson and Hedges 45-over Cup, which they did. On receiving his prize, Cronje said he was willing to "forecast" two more events. He told Test captain Graeme Smith that South Africa would return from England as the No.1 ranked Test side in the world and limited-overs captain De Villiers, that in three years' time, he will lift the World Cup.
Complete list of awards:
Newcomer of the Year: Marchant de Lange
International Twenty20 Cricketer of the Year: Richard Levi
One-Day International Cricketer of the Year: AB de Villiers
Test Cricketer of the Year: Vernon Philander
KFC "So Good" Award: Richard Levi
Fans' Cricketer of the Year: Vernon Philander
Players' Player of the Year: AB de Villiers
Cricketer of the Year: Vernon Philander
1-Day Cup Cricketer of the Year: Dean Elgar
Twenty20 Cricketer of the Year: Farhaan Behardien
SuperSport Series Cricketer of the Year: Alviro Petersen
Fairplay award: Sunfoil Dolphins
Coach of the Year: Matthew Maynard
Domestic Newcomer of the Year: Eddie Leie
South African Cricketers' Association MVP award: Morne van Wyk
Domestic Players' Player of the Year: Faf du Plessis
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge
Plays of the day from the tri-series match between Zimbabwe and South Africa
Would he have fared better than the incumbent middle-order batsmen, Root and Ballance?