With Test matches in Cape Town and Sydney and One-Day Internationals in Kolkata and Delhi over the past seven days, there are once again multiple contenders for this week’s Cricket World Player of the Week award.
Starting with the ODIs in India, there have been four outstanding performers. Nasir Jamshed continued his excellent recent form with an innings of 106 in the second ODI to help Pakistan win the series, while Saeed Ajmal was his usual threatening self and returned combined figures of eight for 44 across the final two matches. Of the visitors’ potent pace attack, Junaid Khan stood out with three wickets in game two and an excellent nine-over spell in the third.
For India, their captain MS Dhoni followed up his century in the opening defeat with 54 not out in the second. He then top-scored in the low-scoring third match which his side won.
Over at the SCG, the final Test in Sri Lanka’s winless series in Australia saw Jackson Bird emerge as the latest fast-bowling talent from the home side’s apparently endless conveyer belt. He can only hope that he does not end up injured as so many in the recent past have done. And staying with Australia, Matthew Wade vindicated skipper Michael Clarke’s decision to play five bowlers and made a century following his promotion to number six.
However, most of the headlines from the past week have focused on New Zealand’s capitulation in the first session of the first Test against South Africa. The man who was most responsible for bowling the tourists out for their lowest Test total since 1974 - Vernon Philander - is adjudged as the winner of this week’s award.
He found enough movement from the first day Newlands track to wreak havoc at the top of New Zealand’s batting order and, by the time his opening spell of six overs had come to an end, New Zealand had slipped to 30 for six. Philander had taken five of them at a cost of just seven runs. Not bad for a man who was a fitness concern just 24 hours earlier.
Last year, Philander took 43 wickets at an average of 21.12 in Test cricket. In 2013, he already has seven at 11.86. The remarkable start to his Test career, which began in 2011 and has already yielded 74 wickets in 13 matches, shows no sign of ending.
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