Wisden 2011 April 13, 2011

Evergreen Tendulkar feted by Wisden

Cricinfo staff

The 148th edition of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, launched today, reflects on a year of dramatic contrasts for the game, from the soul-searching that accompanied the Pakistan spot-fixing scandal at Lord's, to the near-perfection of England's Ashes campaign in Australia. But between those extremes, one of the game's most constant presences is recognised for attaining new heights of brilliance.

In 2010, Sachin Tendulkar enjoyed a year that even by his own exalted standards was phenomenal. He hit over 1,500 Test runs and seven Test hundreds, including an unparalleled 50th. Tendulkar also became the first to hit a one-day international double-hundred. Wisden acknowledges his greatness by naming him as the Leading Cricketer in the World for 2010.

It's the first time Tendulkar has won the award since it started in 2004, although Wisden 2007 identified him as the player who would have won such an award for 1998 - had it been devised then. Ramachandra Guha traces the three phases of Tendulkar's career, and reveals that he is held in such esteem by the Australians that they do not sledge him; and by his team-mates so that the Indian dressing-room, once riven by turf wars and petty jealousies, is now calm.

With the ongoing criminal investigation restricting Wisden's reporting of the spot-fixing affair, the decision to name just four Cricketers of the Year instead of the usual five is a subtle but damning verdict on a summer that turned sour. Elsewhere in the book, Paul Kelso carefully pieces together the events before, during and after the England-Pakistan Test at Lord's last August, while Rob Crilly visits an illicit gambling den overlooking the slums of Lahore.

Crilly's arresting first-hand account brings to light a murky world that will prove difficult to dismantle. "The den was in full swing the day after Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif had received lengthy bans for their role in the spot-fixing scandal. Yet nobody thought the punishments would help clean up Pakistani cricket." One of the gamblers could hardly have been clearer: "I don't think this will put people off getting involved in fixing."

Writing from Pakistan on the reaction to the sanctions applied to the three Pakistan cricketers by the ICC, ESPNcricinfo's Osman Samiuddin reveals the power of denial. He reports on how Mohammad Amir, especially, was greeted more as a rock star than a cheat, and how the actual events were lost in the world of feverish conspiracy theories.

If England's home season was utterly overshadowed by the affair, they made sure that their cricket made all the headlines in Australia three months later. In his fourth year as Wisden's editor, Scyld Berry hails the team's Ashes performance by saying it was "hard to think of a sizeable human organisation that has come closer to perfection for a couple of months than England's cricket team during the Ashes".

Their achievements, however, were immediately undermined by the ensuing limited-overs series that saw England play two Twenty20 internationals and seven one-day internationals, before flying half-way round the world to pause for breath at home - and then, four days later, heading for the World Cup. "Unsurprisingly," says Berry, "the players, especially the bowlers, fell like flies."

The former England captain, Michael Vaughan, and the former Australian legspinner, Kerry O'Keeffe, complement the Almanack's coverage of the Ashes. "The key difference," Vaughan believes, "between the two teams lay in their spine. England had an excellent pair of opening batsmen and opening bowlers, a very good wicketkeeper in Matt Prior, and a captain who led by example." By contrast, the "Australian attack had no X-factor". O'Keeffe castigates the Australians for their poor preparation - "a little like swimming the English Channel to tune up for the London Marathon" - and berates the Aussies' lack of determination: "England counted their batting in hours (and days). Australians looked at minutes."

Despite those exploits, only two of England's cricketers make Wisden's Test team of the year - James Anderson and Graeme Swann. Instead the side is dominated with players from the No. 1-ranked team in the world, India, with Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, VVS Laxman and Zaheer Khan bring their contingent to five. For the first time since the Wisden Test XI began in 2008, there is no room for an Australian - but there is a Bangladeshi, with Tamim Iqbal having been chosen by a panel comprising Ian Bishop, Ramiz Raja, Ian Chappell and the editor, Berry.

The 2009 Wisden Test XI 1 Virender Sehwag (India), 2 Tamim Iqbal (Bangladesh), 3 Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka), 4 Sachin Tendulkar (India), 5 Jacques Kallis (South Africa), 6 V. V. S. Laxman (India), 7 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (India, capt & wk), 8 Graeme Swann (England), 9 Dale Steyn (South Africa), 10 Zaheer Khan (India), 11 James Anderson (England).

As one of Wisden's four Cricketers of the Year, Tamim becomes the first Bangladeshi to secure an honour that dates back to 1889. The other recipients are Eoin Morgan, whose innovative strokeplay added a new dimension to England's one-day cricket; Chris Read, who captained Nottinghamshire to a memorable County Championship triumph and Jonathan Trott, who announced himself as England's most consistent run-scorer in both Tests and ODIs.

For the first time in its history, Wisden gives proper recognition to the photographer's art, with Scott Barbour winning the inaugural Wisden-MCC Photograph of the Year award. Will Vanderspar, from Eton College, is the Young Wisden Schools Cricketer of the Year, while Eric Midwinter's synoptic history of the game, The Cricketer's Progress: Meadowland to Mumbai is the winner of the Wisden Book of the Year award.

Buy the 2011 Wisden Cricketers' Almanack

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  • Richard on April 15, 2011, 15:20 GMT

    Best batsman ever is Bradman.No discussion needed.Most valuable cricketer ever is Kallis.There are many,many other players who would compete with Tendulkar for a place in an all time team,but realistically,only Sobers could compete with Jakes as your batting all-rounder.And if we are going to call someone the god of cricket for being a nice guy and a great player,then I am going to have to argue the case for Shaun Pollock.What a lovely guy.

  • suresh on April 15, 2011, 9:47 GMT

    @kiwirocker-if u dont know any thinh just keep quiet,who said he isnot doing any thing , that is telling ur knowledge,he is supporting so many orpahns and providing money for educationand supporting several organizations , if u dont know why are u talking , about pakistan when ever he faced akram or waquar he played well.

  • Dummy4 on April 15, 2011, 7:16 GMT

    Tendulkar has got GOD status because he played on the same pitches where others also played and got to the position where almost no one can reach. He also has done many charities and many few knew about them as he strictly entertains publicity for them. Sachin in 1 year got 8 Centuries in one days and last year he got 7 test hundreds and am sure that 80% of cricketers end their lives not even scoring those many centuries in their career. Winning is not always important when you look at a game like Cricket as it is a TEAM GAME. Sachin has always done his JOB right, If India loses in a match in which sachin got good score, its not his mistake at all. to put it in a easy way - Same school may have State No.1 student as well as State No.1 failures list.

  • Harvey on April 14, 2011, 23:39 GMT

    Why are so many comparing Tendulkar and Kallis? They are both great players and can't really be compared since Tendulkar is not an all-rounder and Kallis is. Most of Tendulkar's part time bowling has been at position 5 or 6, Kallis is at 3 or 4. Kallis has also bowled nearly 5 times as many overs.

  • p on April 14, 2011, 16:39 GMT

    The Greatest Tendulkar was No.1 ranked first in 2004. After being on and off No.1 and a decline in the mid 2000s due to injury the Greatest is again No.1...17 years after he first became No.1 !! All Hail the Greatest batsman that ever walked God's green earth- Sachin Tendulkar...Bow to the Master.

  • Dummy4 on April 14, 2011, 16:33 GMT

    The greatest sportsman of all times across all sport. I don't even have to say period.

  • ian on April 14, 2011, 13:09 GMT

    It seems that several readers have little idea of what Wisden is about and how, due to its comprehensive scope it has a much earlier cut-off date than many can conceive in order to go to print in time to be out with the daffodils. It is, to some extent, hidebound by its tradition and Anglo-centric focus as the majority of its readership is English, or has English as their mother-tongue. The most detailed sections deal with the first class game amongst English counties (compare the report of, say Notts v Lancs. with NSW v Vic, or Delhi v Mumbai). Right or wrong, that's what Wisden does - and that's what its subscribers expect. Now, wouldn't it be a great idea if the subcontinent were to produce its own 'Wisden'? It wouldn't be called Wisden - why should it be? - and it could be as Indo-centric as its major audience could posssibly want. If it were written in English (as I suspect it would have to be) then we in UK could read all 1700 pages of it, amazed at its scope and brilliance.

  • Bobby on April 14, 2011, 12:12 GMT

    shankupals : I am interested to know for what other reasons you respect Tendulkar? Imran Khan won a WC and he inspired a nation. He built a free cancer hospital in memory of his mother. Inzemam Ul HAQ has done same for his father's memory in his home town Multan. Saeed Anwar goes aorund and does a charity work. I am sorry but may be I am missing something..What other reasons? Is it because Tendulkar bought a 39 Carore Bungalow in Mumbai with all that free money he has earnt fooling Indians....? The man is an imposter who has fooled Indians for decades...India's best batsman of modern era is VVS Laxman. A Champion batsman of few words who has won more matches for India than Tendulkar nad his team mates combined. Tendulkar was one of most vocal opponents of India/Pak matches in late 90's to save his average against two most fearsome bowlers of his time! Just get your facts right mate!

  • Vaibhav on April 14, 2011, 10:59 GMT

    And finally, Sachin is a great human being above all. He is always extremely humble in his interactions with all and sundry. That's one quality that makes him stand apart from the Kallises in the cricket world. 22 years - he has all - the money, fame, celebritydom and the power that comes along with it. And yet he stays firmly rooted to the ground. You can see it in the way he behaves on and off the field.

    It can be argued whether Sir Bradman was greater than Tendulkar - which makes total sense. But IMHO even Sir Bradman would have failed miserably on the above count.

  • Sagarneel on April 14, 2011, 10:01 GMT

    This should have been named the Wisden cricket joke book of the year!! Tamim Iqbal in, but no Amla...Morgan in but no Trott!!! And the world thought that Wisden is the bible of cricket!! BIG JOKE FOLKS!!!

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