There are three main contenders for this week’s Cricket World Player of the Week award following what has been an eventful week in the international game. The past seven days have seen action on three different continents, involving nine different teams – 15 if you include the ongoing World Cricket League Division Five – to truly illustrate the increasingly global nature of our sport. From this hive of activity, three players – Alastair Cook, Steven Finn and Richard Levi – have each put in outstanding individual performances to find themselves on the shortlist for the award.
Levi, a 24 year-old right-hander playing only his second international, smashed the fastest Twenty20 International century from 45 balls and also struck a world-record 13 sixes during his unbeaten innings of 117 from 51 balls. The burly Cape Cobras batsman became only the sixth man to reach three figures in the format’s 222-match history.
However, it is from the One-Day International series in the UAE that this week’s player of the week comes. Alastair Cook and Steven Finn have both been instrumental in England’s sudden upturn in form following their disastrous showing in the Test series, and find themselves involved in a straight shoot-out for the award.
Finn’s bowling figures this week make for exceptional reading; with a total of 11 wickets at an average of 8.36 and an economy rate of 3.07 a fine effort for a bowler that was deemed not good enough to find a place in the Test side.
Unfortunately for him, his captain Alastair Cook enjoyed an equally prolific week, albeit with the bat – an area in which England had thus far struggled on the tour – to notch up 319 runs at an average of over 100 and a strike rate of 88.37 to pip him to the award.
Cook’s transformation from Test match plodder to become the first England player since Paul Collingwood five years ago to score back-to-back ODI centuries can be traced as far back as to 2008 when he played only one ODI during the English summer and vowed to improve his limited-overs game.
He returned to county cricket with Essex where worked tirelessly with Graham Gooch to increase his scoring options and versatility as a cricketer. His hard work soon began to pay off and in 2009 he hit 312 limited-overs runs at an average of 62.4 for Essex; achieved a strike rate of almost 85 in the 2010 domestic list A season; and found form in the 2010 Friends Life t20, ending with a strike rate in excess of 132.
Overall, his success can be attributed to his often-complimented excellent temperament and work ethic, and is also perhaps a feather in the cap for the much-maligned county game where so many of the foundations for his current success were laid.
© Cricket World 2012