Root, Williamson, Ashwin: Who Will Take Away the ICC Awards?
England’s batsman Joe Root stands a good chance at becoming the third Englishman (after Jonathan Trott and Andrew Flintoff) to be named the ICC’s Cricket of the Year when the awards are announced this week.
In a bid to recognise and honour consistent performers in international cricket over a twelve month period, the ICC instituted the annual awards ceremony in 2004. Cricketers are honoured among several categories, including Cricketer of the Year (winner presented with the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy), Test Cricketer of the Year and ODI Cricketer of the Year.
Previous recipients of the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy include legends of the game – Sachin Tendulkar (2010), Rahul Dravid (2004), Ricky Ponting (2006 & 2007) and Kumar Sangakkara (2012).
The awards for 2016 will cover performances in international cricket between 14 September 2015 and 20 September 2016. In an announcement made last week, the ICC named New Zealand’s Suzie Bates as winner of the Women’s ODI and T20I Player of the Year.
Though there is no official shortlist announced by the ICC, one imagines it will be extremely difficult to look beyond Joe Root for the Cricketer of the Year award. In 14 Test matches played during the awards period, Root scored 1272 runs at an average of 55.30 – scoring more runs than any other cricketer.
The Englishman topped the run-getters list in ODIs too, scoring 941 runs in 19 matches he played during the awards period.
He went past the 50-run mark on 10 occasions out of the 18 times he batted in ODIs. In T20Is during the period, Root was England’s second-highest run-getter, scoring 349 runs in 11 innings at a strike-rate of 141.86.
Among other contenders for the Cricketer of the Year award are Australia’s David Warner, who was extremely successful at the top of the innings and the New Zealand captain Kane Williamson.
The all-rounder Moeen Ali too stands an outside chance to grab the award for his all-round contribution to the England team in the period.
Joe Root is also frontrunner to win the Test Cricketer of the Year award. In Test matches played during the awards period, he scored his career-best 254 against Pakistan. More than half the runs he scored in the period were in Test matches that England won, and his batting average in England wins during the period read 85.13.
In the period gone by, the New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was prolific with the bat too. In August this year, he scored a century against Zimbabwe and became the youngest player to score hundreds against all nine Test playing nations. Williamson was New Zealand’s top run-getter in Test matches during the period, scoring more than 20 per cent of the team’s runs.
The Australian captain Steven Smith – winner of the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy and Test Cricketer of the Year award in 2015 – stands a chance to win the latter for the second time running. Smith scored in excess of 1000 runs in 11 Test matches, which included hundreds against New Zealand, West Indies and Sri Lanka.
Rangana Herath, Mitchell Starc and Ravichandran Ashwin are among the bowlers in contention to win the Test Cricketer of the Year award. Herath was the highest wicket-taker in Tests during the awards period, scalping 54 wickets in 10 Tests.
Ashwin added 48 wickets to his career tally during the period, while Starc took 37 wickets in six Tests – which included a record 24 wickets in a 3-Test series in Sri Lanka.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad both took 50 wickets apiece during the period, but one has seen better performances from the England quicks in the past and it is therefore that they fail to make the shortlist.
Alex Hales, Quinton de Kock, David Warner and Martin Guptill join Joe Root in the shortlist for the ODI Cricketer of the Year award.
The South African leg-spinner Imran Tahir is the highest wicket-taker in ODIs during the period, while Kagiso Rabada impressed in South Africa’s series wins in India and against England, taking a total of 26 wickets in 15 ODIs during the period. If one were to guess, one of the three Australians – John Hastings and Adam Zampa or Mitchell Starc – could also be in the fray to pick up the ODI Cricketer of the Year award.
One does not see too many Indian making the shortlist primarily because Team India did not play too many Test matches and ODIs during the period. During the awards period, India played 8 Test matches (as against 14 by England or 11 by Australia and New Zealand). On the ODI front, India only played 13 ODIs during the period, winning 6 and losing 7.