There has been plenty of international cricket over the past seven days with as many as seven different teams in action across all three formats – all of which means that there are several strong contenders for this week’s Cricket World Player of the Week award.
Sri Lanka’s record win against Pakistan in the first Test in Galle produced three contenders, with Suraj Randiv leading the way with the ball on the way to match figures of seven for 99, and Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan both hitting centuries in the home side’s imposing first innings total of 472.
In the 50-over format, there were half centuries for Angelo Mathews (80 not out in the fifth ODI against Pakistan) and Jonathan Trott (53 for England in the 2nd ODI against the West Indies); while Alastair Cook made a series-winning century as captain against the West Indies.
Meanwhile, in the shortest form of the game, Alex Hales led the way with a terrific 99 for England in their one-off Twenty20 International against the West Indies, while there were several excellent performances from the Tri-Series in Zimbabwe which, in spite of not being granted full international status, proved to be a hugely entertaining and closely-contested competition.
When picking this week’s award winner, it is hard to look beyond that tournament’s man of the series, Hamilton Masakadza, who struck 205 runs from his four matches last week – including three half centuries – to lead the hosts to what was an unexpected, albeit very popular, tournament triumph.
He hit 55 from 39 balls in the win over South Africa, and maintained his good form during Zimbabwe’s back-to-back defeats against Bangladesh (he hit 56 off 54 balls) and South Africa (36 off 30), as well as contributing an undefeated 58 from 50 balls in Zimbabwe’s trouncing of South Africa in the final.
Masakadza shot to prominence as a 17 year-old, hitting 119 on Test debut against the West Indies, but he has struggled for form and consistency since then – indeed 119 remains his highest Test score from 18 further matches – and averages just 25.78 in Tests and 27.08 in One-Day Internationals.
He endured a particularly poor run of form during the lead up to last year’s World Cup and was left out of Zimbabwe’s squad for that tournament, before making his international return during their comeback Test against Bangladesh later that year – hitting 104 in the first innings to help his country to an emotional 130-run win.
The 28 year-old has hardly looked back since, despite a disappointing run of scores against New Zealand, and has passed 50 in all but one of his last seven international innings, as well as leading his franchise, the Mountaineers, to victory in December’s successful Stanbic Bank T20 competition, where he finished as the fourth highest run-scorer behind Chris Gayle, Ryan ten Doeschate and Stuart Matsikenyeri.
Of his struggles over the past couple of years, he said, “Cricket, just like any sport, has its ups and downs, but I have my downs at exactly the wrong moments. I am just trying to build up from what I am doing now and hopefully I’ll keep getting better from here on. It was very disappointing that I wasn't scoring as heavily as I wanted to. I think I had a period when I went six or seven innings in ODIs without getting past ten runs, but the worst thing about it is that during practice sessions in the nets I felt I was hitting the ball well enough and getting into good positions but I just could not score on the pitch. I was obviously disappointed with myself but it spurred me to work even harder and keep focusing on the future because I knew it will have to turn at some stage and I am happy it is turning now.”
© Cricket World 2012
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