Following India’s domination at last year’s Cricket World awards, the honours were much more evenly spread this time around, with four different countries rewarded for their efforts over the past 12 months across the main five award categories.
India and Pakistan were at the forefront of the voters’ thoughts in 2011, but this year sees Australia, England and South Africa battle for top honours, with West Indies’ triumph in the ICC World T20 apparently forgotten by many.
Michael Clarke beats off competition from Alastair Cook to win the Player of the Year and Batsman of the Year, while James Anderson and Dale Steyn share the Bowler of the Year gong. MS Dhoni is the only Indian who came even close to winning an award and shares his Wicket-keeper of the Year award with Matt Prior.
Player of the Year: Michael Clarke (Australia)
As ever it is batsmen who catch the spectator’s eye when it comes to picking the best player of the year. This year, Australian captain Michael Clarke pips his English counterpart, Alastair Cook, to the honours in a year in which both men asserted their leadership over teams who, to one degree or another, have been in transition. Hashim Amla is rewarded for his elegance and efficiency during South Africa’s ascent to the top of the Test rankings and shares third place with India’s Virat Kohli, who showed glimpses towards the end of the year of transferring his prolific ODI form into the Test arena.
Batsman of the Year: Michael Clarke (Australia)
It is the same quartet who dominate the running for this award. Clarke finished the year with 1595 Test runs - including hitting a triple century - and averaged in excess of 100 to go with his superb leadership, while Cook was a key factor in his side’s series win in India and topped 1200 Test runs. Virat Kohli’s superb year in ODIs was rewarded with an outright third place this time, with his team-mate Virender Sehwag taking fifth despite a disappointing year in both Tests and ODIs. Chris Gayle could be a little miffed at only finishing sixth in spite of his starring role in West Indies’ World T20 win.
Bowler of the Year: James Anderson (England) and Dale Steyn (South Africa)
The results of Bowler of the Year poll will reopen the debate that raged during the summer as to which of Dale Steyn or James Anderson is the better bowler. Cricket World voters were unable to separate the pair who were tied on 17.5% of the vote. Looking at stats alone, they are just as closely matched, with Anderson averaging 29.5 in Tests in 2012 and Steyn 29.72. Graeme Swann is rewarded for his 59 wickets in 14 Tests with third place, while 2012’s leading Test wicket-taker Rangana Herath has to make do with equal fourth position. Lasith Malinga, comfortably the leading ODI wicket-taker in the past 12 months, collected just the single vote - perhaps reinforcing the place that Test cricket, ahead of limited-overs cricket, has in the public’s affections.
Wicket-keeper of the Year: MS Dhoni (India) and Matt Prior (England)
Dhoni sees his share of the vote drop from 59% to 35% after a year in which his place as India’s captain was called into question following the Test series loss to England. Dhoni’s form with the bat remained excellent throughout all his troubles, however - he averaged more than 40 in Tests and 65.5 in ODIs. Matt Prior jumps up from third in 2011 to share the award this time around after emerging as the leading wicket-keeper in terms of dismissals in Test cricket. He was also prolific with the bat, averaging 38.85 from 15 matches. Elsewhere in the list, Mark Boucher is honoured for a career that was ended prematurely by injury with joint fourth place, while his replacement AB de Villiers is recognised as having done a solid job and is sixth.
Team of the Year: South Africa
South Africa ended the year as undisputed number ones in Test cricket and narrowly beat England, who they displaced and are current ODI world number ones, to the award. The high-point of South Africa’s year was the Test series win in England in July and August, while England’s best moments were the recent win in India and their unbeaten run in ODI cricket which stretched from February until the end of August - 13 matches. Elsewhere, West Indies could only manage fourth in a year where they won the World T20 but also lost an ODI series to Bangladesh.
Moments of the Year:
Most people went for either West Indies’ World T20 triumph or England’s Test series win in India as their most memorable moment from 2012. However, it is some of those that didn’t garner quite so many votes that are worth a closer look. A couple of people focused on Eoin Morgan’s last-ball six which helped England square the Twenty20 series in India recently, while one person thought back to March and Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th international century which came in the Asia Cup. Bangladesh’s successful run in that tournament and its thrilling final was also mentioned. Moving to the English county game, Graham Onions’ hand in all 10 wickets to fall in an innings - nine off his bowling and his run-out of Luke Fletcher - against Nottinghamshire, and Derbyshire’s LV= County Championship Division Two title got a vote apiece.
A full voting breakdown can be found on page two.