Sehwag, Taylor, Tendulkar, Afridi take top honours
Virender Sehwag has won the Test batting prize for the second year running in the ESPNcricinfo Awards. Sehwag's audacious 293 against Sri Lanka in Mumbai was chosen over Andrew Strauss's 161 at Lord's in the Ashes and Chris Gayle's unbeaten 165 in Adelaide, by a jury of former cricketers, commentators and Cricinfo's senior editors.
The six awards, for performances in the three international cricket formats in 2009, were shared between players from three countries: India, Pakistan and West Indies. Gayle won the Twenty20 batting award for his 50-ball 88 against Australia at The Oval in the World Twenty20. His West Indies team-mate Jerome Taylor's rout of England in Jamaica was voted the Test bowling performance of the year.
The award for Twenty20 bowling went to Umar Gul, who was nominated twice in the category, for his five-wicket haul against New Zealand at The Oval, also in the World Twenty20 - a performance of reverse-swing bowling in which, according to former Australia captain and jury member Ian Chappell, "for three overs he looked like he was going to take a wicket every ball and damn near did".
Of the winners, Gul, Gayle and Afridi were among eight players to receive two nominations each. Fifty-seven performances from 2009 were shortlisted in the six categories early in January and voted on by the jury.
Former England opener Geoff Boycott, one of the members of the jury, which also included Tony Greig, David Lloyd, Ramiz Raja, Daryll Cullinan and Sanjay Manjrekar, said Sehwag's win was hardly surprising. "It is extraordinary to watch him play. I have seen some people score quickly and get big scores," Boycott said. "Part of the time it is brute force, but not so with him. It is just simplicity itself. I watch him bat and it seems as though he sees the shot even before the bowler has bowled. It is quite extraordinary. He doesn't play with great power; it is grace, timing and effortless ease, and his range of shots is quite exciting."
In addition to the performance awards, the ESPNcricinfo Awards also comprise the Statsguru Awards, which are based on detailed statistical analyses of the year's performances. Indian players won the top batting awards here as well. Gautam Gambhir was adjudged the Batsman of the Year, based on a score arrived at by adding Test batting average to ODI batting index (batting average multiplied by strike rate). He was also the Test Batsman of the Year. Sehwag was voted the ODI Batsman of the Year. The bowling awards went to Stuart Broad (Bowler of the Year), Mitchell Johnson (Test Bowler) and James Anderson (ODI Bowler). Other Statsguru Awards winners included Shane Watson (Most Consistent Test Batsman), Tillakaratne Dilshan (Most Runs in Test Wins), and Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder (ODI Opening Batting Pair of the Year).
Cricinfo readers were invited to vote on the nominees and their picks mirrored the jury's in all but one category: Twenty20 batting, where they picked Tillakaratne Dilshan's unbeaten 96 in the World Twenty20 over Gayle's 88.