It’s New Year’s Eve and that means it’s time for the (not so) time honoured tradition of dolling out Silly Mid Wicket Awards – or Sillies as I like to call them.
Best Test Team of 2011:
1. Alastair Cook (Eng)
Batting the way your grandad would if his eyes still worked, Cook continued his single-minded task of scoring runs in the blandest way imaginable and in doing so helped bring ‘Daddy’ and ‘Grandaddy’ hundreds back in to fashion.
2. Virender Sehwag (Ind)
Not the best year in Test’s for the Delhi Butcher but let’s face it, he’s still the most exciting batsman in world cricket.
3. Kumar Sangakkara (SL)
Impressed everyone but the big cheeses at Sri Lankan Cricket when he gave this year’s MCC Spirit of Cricket Crowdrey Lecture, proving that when he’s done shoring up the Sri Lankan middle order he’ll make a great administrator – or a terrible politician.
4. Michael Clarke * (Aus)
Like Sehwag this wasn’t Pup’s most productive year with the bat but he gets the nod over the likes of Tendulkar at number four for his calm and astute leadership and for scoring 151 in the first innings of a match where his entire team was unceremoniously rolled for 47 in the second.
5. Ian Bell (Eng)
This will forever be remembered as the year Bell finally shed the ‘Sherminator’ moniker and assumed something equally cheesy like ‘The Bell-meister’ or ‘Best-Underrated-Player-In-World-Cricket. Can also lay claim to the fact that his 2011 average (118. 75) is better than that magical numbers of Bradman’s.
6. Misbah ul-Haq (Pak)
In 2010 Pakistan had so much going on off-field it was a wonder they managed to keep a team on it. This year however they’ve managed to put the dramas behind them and have been quietly building form while no one was looking. Misbah has led the transformation from laughing stock to, well, less of a laughing stock with middle-order batting so stodgy he makes Alastair Cook look like quite the dasher.
7. Matt Prior † (Eng)
He’s no Adam Gilchrist yet, but he’s certainly no Kamran Akmal either. When England’s top order compiles big scores, Prior makes them huge. When England’s top order fails – actually I don’t remember the last time that happened, but you get the picture. Has an impressive ginger beard to boot.
8. Stuart Broad (Eng)
It seems baby-faced Broady has finally grown out of his tantruming, tempestuous, getting-hit-for-six-sixes-in-an-over stage and started playing like a big boy. Has the pace and bounce to trouble the best. In 2011 he finally did so.
9. Dale Steyn (SA)
Just another year at the office for Steyn. The world’s best bowler averaged just 19.57 in 2011. His battle with Tendulkar in Cape Town lit up cricket like no batsman-bowler contest has since the 2005 Ashes. Or even earlier if you’re not English.
10. Doug Bracewell (NZ)
Of all the debutant bowlers who took five-fors this year (think Philander, Pattinson, Cummins and de Lange), Bracewell was the only one who also helped his team to new frontiers (need I remind anyone of the Hobart win?) And also because I’m biased and needed to find room for a kiwi somewhere in this eleven. Seriously though, 6 for 40 against Australia at home is a damn good effort.
11. Saeed Ajmal (Pak)
2011’s leading wicket taker and another reason why people aren’t still breaking into hysterical laughter any time Pakistan and cricket are mentioned in the same sentence.
Silly for Best Test Player of 2011:
Silly for Best ODI Player of 2011:
Silly for Best Hired Gun of 2011:
Silly for Most Shafted Player of 2011:
Silly for Best Young Player of 2011:
Silly for Most Deserving Test Cap of 2011:
Silly for Least Talented International Cricketer of 2011:
Silly for Most Compelling Test Match of 2011:
Dead heat between Aus v NZ (Hobart), SA v Aus (Johannesburg) and Aus v Ind (Melbourne)
And finally, (drum roll please, dadumdadum) the (not yet) coveted Silly Award for the Supreme Cricketer of the Universe for 2011:
Shakib Al Hasan
For being the only player of any substance in an otherwise pitifully bad team.