There are a multitude of contenders for this week’s Cricket World Player of the Week award. From Mohammad Hafeez making it three hundreds in the series to help Pakistan beat Sri Lanka; Darren Sammy hitting a crucial 43 not out to take West Indies to victory in a low-scoring ODI in New Zealand; to Jacques Kallis hitting a century in his final Test match to set up South Africa’s win over India, there were certainly plenty of excellent performances over the past seven days.
However, it is from the Ashes that this week’s winner comes. Any one of Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon or Chris Rogers could take the honours. It is Rogers who does so, pipping man of the match Johnson. The veteran opener hit 177 runs in a relatively low-scoring match at the MCG, including 61 in Australia’s first innings 204 and then 116 on the final day as Australia eased to their fourth innings target.
Johnson returned match figures of eight for 88 to continue what has been a superb series for him - surely he will never again be taunted by the Barmy Army over his occasional inaccuracy? Meanwhile, off-spinner Lyon took five for 50 and was instrumental in causing England’s second innings collapse which kept alive the hosts’ hopes of completing a series whitewash in the New Year.
In Durban, besides Kallis’ emotional century, Dale Steyn took six for 100 to bounce back from his poor showing in Johannesburg and trigger India’s failure to kick on from the strong second-wicket partnership between Murali Vijay (97) and Cheteshwar Pujara (70). In the Proteas’ innings, Alviro Petersen, AB de Villiers and Robin Peterson each passed 50 to support Kallis in earning South Africa a three-figure first innings lead. Ravindra Jadeja, meanwhile, showed his worth as India’s lead spinner by taking six for 138 in a marathon spell.
Hafeez made it three centuries in the series for Pakistan in the UAE to end what had been a lean run with the bat in about the most emphatic fashion possible. He was supported well by Saeed Ajmal (4-39) in the fourth ODI which secured the nominal hosts the series in spite of a knock of 74 from Sri Lankan debutant Ashan Priyanjan. Dinesh Chandimal then hit an unbeaten 64 to guide Sri Lanka to victory in the dead-rubber.
© Cricket World 2013