There are two main contenders for this week’s Cricket World Player of the Week. Saeed Ajmal and AB de Villiers have each turned in exemplary performances for their teams this week to help Pakistan and South Africa record victories over England and Sri Lanka respectively.
Ajmal’s match haul of 10 for 97 was instrumental in Pakistan’s thrashing of England in Dubai as he exposed the tourists' historical weaknesses against spin with considerable skill. The pre-series talk about his teesra appeared to get into the England batsmen's heads, although it was the standard off-spinner that got the bulk of the wickets, with the Englishmen consistenly failing to pick length until it was too late.
However, it is AB de Villiers who takes this week's award thanks to his remarkable consistency during the past seven days. His scores of 39 not out, 96 and 125 not out, coupled with his talismanic leadership and wicket-keeping, helped South Africa to secure a series victory over Sri Lanka.
His innings of 96 from 76 balls in the fourth One-Day International in Kimberley was the main contribution to his side's total of 299 for seven, while his outstanding innings of 125 from just 98 balls was an equally valuable component of his team's 312 for four.
In spite of both of de Villiers' major innings resulting in eventual defeat for his side, that should not detract from their brilliance, and it should be remembered that it was his calm unbeaten 39 from just 36 balls in the Bloemfontein gloom that rendered the final two ODIs irrelevant.
The 27 year-old, who was born in Pretoria, had long been thought of as a potential South African captain and finally took over the limited-overs captaincy from Graeme Smith after the 2011 World Cup. He represented South Africa Schools as a 17 year-old against a Gauteng XI, making an unbeaten 73, and was picked for the Under-19 side on their tour of England in 2003. His first-class and list A debuts came at the end of that year for regional side Northerns, and he has represented the Titans franchise since that system was introduced in 2004.
He finally made his Test debut against England at the end of 2004 and his ODI debut in the series that followed at the beginning of 2005. His maiden Test century came in the final Test against England in Centurion.
Other contenders for this week's award included Kumar Sangakkara, whose 102 in the fifth ODI trumped de Villiers' knock, and Graeme Smith, who scored 125, and shared a stand of 186 with de Villiers for the third wicket.
© Cricket World 2012