Five first-time Cricketers of the Year were named at the launch of the Mutual & Federal South African Cricket Annual in Sandton tonight (Monday, October, 7).
Paul Adams, Steve Elworthy, Andrew Hall, Graeme Smith and Martin van Jaarsveld were named as the outstanding players of the 2001/02 cricket year.
The five were chosen for their spirited and impressive performances in a year during which the South African team suffered heavy defeats at home and away against world champions Australia.
Adams, Hall and Smith were chosen specifically because they sparked a turnaround against the Australians after coming into the national team midway through the home series.
Elworthy and Van Jaarsveld owed their selection mainly to their exceptional performances for Northerns in domestic cricket, although Elworthy, who toured Australia with the Proteas, was also recognised for consistent play over a long career.
Editor Colin Bryden said making the choice proved another difficult task. Some of the country's big-name players had achieved some excellent results during the season but had then been unable to perform to their own highest standards against Australia.
For the first time, the awards were restricted to South African-based players. Bryden said an Australian star such as Adam Gilchrist had made a huge impact but the nature of modern tours is such that teams seldom are in South Africa for a major part of the season.
The bumper 608-page Mutual & Federal Annual includes full coverage of all major cricket played during the 2001/02 season with detailed statistical and records sections. A bonus in the 2002 edition is a detailed preview of the 2003 World Cup.
The players named as Mutual & Federal Cricket Annual Cricketers of the Year:
Paul Adams. The unorthodox left-arm spinner returned to the South African Test team after a spell on the sidelines and made an immediate impact. Adams, 25, shared a crucial partnership with Andrew Hall in the second Test at Newlands and took crucial wickets, with Australian captain Steve Waugh in particular struggling to master his wiles. During the second Test he became the seventh South African to take 100 Test wickets.
Steve Elworthy. Years of consistent performances have made Elworthy, 37, a perennial contender for a place in the South African side. Despite being one of the oldest players on the provincial circuit, he was the leading wicket-taker in South African first-class cricket last season with 52 at an average of 18.11, forcing his way into the touring party for Australia. He was unlucky not to add to his two Test caps but played in the one-day series before being struck on the head while batting in Sydney, ending his tour early.
Andrew Hall. A feisty all-rounder, Hall, 27, gained his chance to play Test cricket when South African captain Shaun Pollock failed to recover from in jury in time for the second Test. Hall came in with South Africa in dire trouble at 92 for six and made a splendid 70. Hall previously showed his remarkable all-round skills when he opened the batting, kept wicket and bowled a crucial over during a win against Australia indoors in Melbourne in 2000.
Graeme Smith. Few cricketers in recent times have made as powerful an impact in recent times as early as Smith. The strongly-built 21-year-old opening batsman played his way into contention with some big scores in domestic cricket before getting his chance in the second Test against Australia. He showed he had the ability and the mental strength to stand up to the world champions and shone in both the Tests and the one-day series.
Martin van Jaarsveld. Solid performances in recent seasons took Van Jaarsveld, 28, close to the national team. He enjoyed his most prolific season to date when he made 1268 runs in first-class cricket at an average of 74.58 with five centuries. He was the only player to score more than 1000 runs. He shone in the SuperSport Series final. His efforts have finally been rewarded by the national selectors with his inclusion in the national squad for the series against Bangladesh.