ESPNcricinfo Awards 2011 nominees

Cricket

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2011 nominees

ESPNcricinfo lists the nominees for this year’s ESPNcricinfo Awards, which celebrates the best individual performances in 2011 by batsmen and bowlers in Tests and one-day internationals.

Nominees for best ‘Test batting’ performances of the year:

Ian Bell (England), 159 v India, second Test, Nottingham

Bell came to the crease with England 67 runs behind. Two wickets fell even before England reached parity. Bell then opened up the counterattack. Bell had a strike rate of more than 70 against every specialist Indian bowler, an indication that no one troubled him. The scoring was all around the wicket, and India were powerless to prevent the glut of boundaries. He scored 84 out of England’s first 130, and kept dominating until India had been batted out of the match and the series.

 

Sachin Tendulkar (India), 146 v South Africa, third Test, Cape Town

Dale Steyn, arguably the best fast bowler in the world, bowled high-quality outswing for long periods during the third Test. He took five wickets and would have taken South Africa to an easy series win following his efforts. However, Tendulkar scored 146 to put India in a position from where they could contemplate winning. Sachin stood out of the crease and took 48 off 66 balls in two of Steyn’s best spells of the match.

Jacques Kallis (South Africa), 109 not out v India, third Test, Cape Town

Kallis came out at No. 5 because a blow to the ribs in the first innings had put him out of action for two weeks. With the batting crumbling, four to five painkilling injections in his system, and with the temperature at a merciless 35 degrees Celsius, Kallis bettered his elegant first-innings century.

Kevin Pietersen (England), 202 not out v India, first Test, Lord’s

The English openers had made a good start but then got out. Meanwhile Zaheer Khan got wickets but then got injured. The situation was crying out for someone to grab the game by its throat. Enter Pietersen, without a century at home in the last three years, with critics calling for his head. He went on to score his slowest hundred before shifting gears and beating the bowlers to a pulp. Two hundred and two unbeaten runs later, India were a deflated side.

Rahul Dravid (India), 117 v England, second Test, Nottingham

India were without their regular openers, on a pitch on which they had bowled England out for 221, and up against a fiery England attack. Dravid volunteered to open, and showed impeccable discipline, courage and skill in scoring his third century in five Tests. Along the way he was hit on the wrist, popped a painkiller, and resumed his vigil. Forty of his first 51 runs came in boundaries. Thanks to his effort, India secured a 67-run lead despite two slides of 3 for 46 and 6 for 21.

 

Rahul Dravid (India), 146 not out v England, fourth Test, The Oval

India were bruised and battered by the time the final Test of the series arrived. They had conceded 591 runs and were expected to provide little resistance to England’s push for a series whitewash. Opening once again, Dravid carried his bat to take India to their first score of 300 in the series. It was one bloody-minded man against a well-oiled, professional unit waiting to run over everything in its way. Dravid made them wait and wait, and ten minutes after six hours of isolated mastery, he walked out to open in the second innings to hearty applause from all of England.

 

Michael Clarke (Australia), 151 v South Africa, first Test, Cape Town

The Test was played in difficult conditions for batting, and provided another classic. South Africa’s bowler Dale Steyn was wreaking havoc but it was Australia’s No. 5 who thwarted him with a belligerent counterattack. In conditions that made free strokeplay risky, Australia’s captain never seemed in undue haste. Clarke scored 151 of the 244 runs that came during his stay at the crease. The next two team innings in the match didn’t add up to his score.

 

Graeme Smith (South Africa), 101 not out v Australia, first Test, Cape Town

None of Smith’s 23 Test hundreds has come in a defeat. He has scored more runs and centuries in successful chases than any other batsman. Amla had enjoyed some luck through two drops; Smith’s effort was chanceless. That he pulled out this innings in a season when he was booed by home fans was the cherry on top.

 

David Warner (Australia), 123 not out v New Zealand, second Test, Hobart

In one of the year’s most riveting Test matches, Warner played one of the year’s most memorable innings – albeit one that ended in agony for him. Warner almost single-handedly took Australia close to victory on a track he mastered but his partners didn’t. New Zealand’s bowlers got considerable movement and swing, and though he kept losing company at the other end, Warner retained his calm while progressing towards the target of 241. With just eight needed to win, his partner, Nathan Lyon, dogged until then, was bowled by Doug Bracewell.

 

Thilan Samaraweera (Sri Lanka), 102 v South Africa, second Test, Durban

Samaraweera was a late addition to the Test squad for the tour, after being initially overlooked, and batted solidly against a bowling line-up boosted by the inclusion of debutant Marchant de Lange, who bagged seven wickets. Samaraweera had his fortunate moments but used his feet well against leg-spinner Imran Tahir and played determinedly in the company of Dinesh Chandimal, with whom he added 111. The partnership helped Sri Lanka get to 338, a total that put enough pressure on South Africa when they came out to bat.

 

Nominees for best ‘Test bowling’ performances of the year:

 

Dale Steyn (South Africa), 5 for 75 v India, third Test, Cape Town

Steyn ushered in the New Year in by terrorising the batsmen of the world’s number one Test team with frightening spells of accurate outswing bowling. Most did not survive the menacing attack, except for Sachin Tendulkar. Steyn’s two spells to start the first two sessions of the third day were perhaps the 11 best overs anyone can bowl for just two wickets. Steyn oozed aggression with every ball, routinely missed off after starting on or around leg, and ripped out five in the innings. It took masterful defending from Tendulkar to deny him.

 

James Anderson (England), 5 for 65 v India, first Test, Lord’s

England’s whitewash of India wasn’t as straightforward as the scoreline suggests. They had to burst through various roadblocks, and the final day of the Lord’s Test was one when India’s big four survived 93, 113, 56 and 68 deliveries, making England work hard for their wickets. Anderson made sure India wouldn’t escape like they had at Lord’s in 2007, which was followed by a series defeat for the hosts. He took out Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar, before dismissing India’s final defiance, Suresh Raina, with one that angled in from round the stumps and then left the batsman.

 

Stuart Broad (England), 6 for 46 v India, second Test, Trent Bridge

With India already past England’s meagre first-innings total with six wickets in hand, India had yet to reckon with Broad, who had, astonishingly, been under pressure to keep his place before the start of the series. Broad brought England back with a spell to keep India’s lead to just 67. It was a day India never came back from in the series.

 

Nathan Lyon (Australia), 5 for 34 v Sri Lanka, first Test, Galle

Australia had been bowled out for under 300 and were dreading being on the receiving end of one of Sri Lanka’s typical long innings. Australia’s only spinner, Lyon, was a debutant. But Lyon’s first delivery in Test cricket dismissed Kumar Sangakkara. Lyon went on to get four more in the innings to help bowl Sri Lanka out for 105. It set up Australia’s first series win in the subcontinent since 2006.

 

Junaid Khan (Pakistan), 5 for 38 v Sri Lanka, first Test, Abu Dhabi

Flat pitch. Hot sun. Remorseless Sri Lankan accumulators to deal with. Misbah-ul-Haq won the toss and fielded. A good start for Sri Lanka. Misbah knew something we didn’t. Enter Junaid Khan. Like only Pakistani fast bowlers can, he thrived in the conditions, bowling to take five wickets in 14.1 overs. He swung the ball, persistently hit the seam, and bowled yorkers that took the pitch out of the equation. Only dropped catches in the second innings denied Pakistan a win Junaid deserved.

 

R Ashwin (India), 6 for 47 v West Indies, first Test, Delhi

Ashwin kept with the theme of 2011 being a year for debutants. He did so at a time when India were staring at an embarrassing home defeat against West Indies. India hadn’t won any of their previous six Tests and had fallen behind by 95 on a track where the low bounce would be a problem for teams. In the third innings of the match, offspinner Ashwin responded with wickets with both the new and old ball. The big two, West Indies’ Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Darren Bravo, were key wickets as India went on to bowl West Indies out for 180 and finally win a Test again.

 

Shane Watson (Australia), 5 for 17 v South Africa, first Test, Cape Town

Watson took five wickets in the space of 21 balls in a five-over spell. Four of the five were specialist batsmen and the fifth the wicketkeeper. This was the fourth-quickest five-for in the history of the game. It bowled South Africa out for 96, barely making the follow-on mark. It left South Africa needing a miracle to win the Test.

 

Vernon Philander (South Africa), 5 for 15 v Australia, first Test, Cape Town

Philander is not as quick as South Africa’s Morne Morkel or as skilful as Dale Steyn, but on the day, on a seaming pitch, he bowled the right pace and length to either catch batsmen’s edges or the lbw calls pads. He was instrumental in South Africa bowling Australia out for 47, their lowest total in more than a century.

 

Pat Cummins (Australia), 6 for 79 v South Africa, second Test, Johannesburg

Embarrassed by a defeat at Newlands in the first Test, Australia needed something special to salvage their trip. On a difficult pitch for batting, they bowled South Africa out for 266 but managed only a 30-run lead. Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers threatened to run away with the series with a 147-run stand. Before they could bat Australia out of the series, though, Cummins, the debutant, struck. His burst of quick and skilful bowling meant South Africa lost their last seven wickets for 102, and Australia levelled the series.

 

Doug Bracewell (New Zealand), 6 for 40 v Australia, second Test, Hobart

In just his third Test match, Bracewell delivered one of New Zealand’s most famous Test wins. When Australia were threatening to walk away with the match, Bracewell got into the act. He removed Ricky Ponting for 16, and Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey off consecutive deliveries to turn the tide in a matter of two overs. Just when David Warner, who made an unbeaten 123, needed the support of the tail, he dislodged James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc, and delivered the final blow, bowling last man Nathan Lyon. It was New Zealand’s first Test win over Australia since 1993.

 

Nominees for best ‘ODI batting’ performances of the year:

 

Shane Watson (Australia), 185 not out v Bangladesh, second ODI, Mirpur

In the non-stop merry-go-round of international cricket, a three-ODI series between Australia and Bangladesh was likely to be low profile. Watson, though, played the innings that people will remember it by. A world-record tally of sixes, the highest score by an Australian in an ODI, and a mind-boggling 79.74% of the runs scored in the innings were some of the records that tumbled as he hammered his way to an unbeaten 185. So brutal was the onslaught that Australia overhauled Bangladesh’s effort of 229 in 26 overs.

 

Andrew Strauss (England), 158 v India, World Cup, Bangalore

Strauss is among the more accomplished Test openers, but his one-day credentials aren’t as sound. Though you wouldn’t have guessed that when he was silencing the cauldron that was the Chinnaswamy Stadium during India’s first home World Cup game. Set a seemingly unobtainable 339 to win, Strauss responded with the highest score by an Englishman in World Cup history, which piloted England to 281 for 2 by the 43rd over.

 

Ross Taylor (New Zealand), 131 not out v Pakistan, World Cup, Pallekele

Few innings are as dual-natured as Ross Taylor’s 131. Initially his feet didn’t move and outside edges were the norm – and Kamran Akmal gave him a birthday gift by dropping one of the simplest chances of the World Cup. Even so, Taylor had scratched his way to 69 off 108 deliveries. He then pummelled a barely believable 62 from his final 16. His partnership with Jacob Oram had the best strike rate of any 50-plus stand in ODI history.

 

Kevin O’Brien (Ireland), 113 v England,World Cup, Bangalore

At 111 for 5, chasing 328, the game seemed over, especially since it was Ireland pursuing England. No one told O’Brien that. He stunned England with the fastest century in World Cup history. The impossible begun to look probable during the batting Powerplay – taken early by Ireland – in which O’Brien and co thumped 62. As striking as the power-packed shots that took him to a hundred off 50 deliveries, was the pink hairdo he revealed when he took off his cap to celebrate the milestone.

 

Mahela Jayawardene (Sri Lanka), 103 not out v India, World Cup final, Mumbai

No century in a World Cup Final had been scored in a losing cause until Mahela Jayawardene’s unbeaten 103. His masterclass was proof that finesse has as much of a place at this level as brutality, but it was not enough to deny India their destiny. Four years previously, at Sabina Park, Jayawardene had produced a supreme century against New Zealand to carry his side to their second World Cup final. He came to the crease with his side under the cosh at 60 for 2 in the 17th over. But he responded with a tempo that scarcely wavered from a run a ball, until, with Nuwan Kulasekara for company, he opened his shoulders to power through to his hundred.

 

Gautam Gambhir (India), 97 v Sri Lanka, World Cup final, Mumbai

When India lost Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar early during the high-pressure chase of the World Cup final, Gambhir responded with a 122-ball statement of indomitability. Battling back pain for the second half of his innings, he crafted an 83-run stand with Virat Kohli that set the stage for a turnaround, before combining for a fluent 109 with MS Dhoni – the highest partnership between an Indian pair in three World Cup finals. The highlight of both partnerships was the manner in which the batsmen soaked up the pressure, kept the risks to a minimum, and yet scored their runs at an excellent rate. An unforgettable century beckoned but a tired attempt at a slog ended Gambhir’s innings at 97, and robbed him of a Man-of-the-Match award.

 

MS Dhoni (India), 91 not out v Sri Lanka, World Cup final, Mumbai

Entering the final, Dhoni was in some of the poorest form of his career. That didn’t prevent him from audaciously promoting himself ahead of the eventual Man of the Series, Yuvraj Singh, and playing the gold standard for a captain’s innings. Dhoni reverted to the mixture of the power and placement that has kept him near the top of the ODI batting rankings for years. And he finished it all off in inimitable style – a monstrous six over long-on, which may go on to become the most replayed shot in cricket history, followed by a casual twirl of the bat as though it was the end of a street cricket match.

 

Malcolm Waller (Zimbabwe), 99 not out v New Zealand, third ODI, Bulawayo

When your team is on a 12-match losing streak across all formats of the game and the opposition has racked up 328 in a one-day match, the expected response is to roll over for defeat. Waller thought otherwise, answering with the innings of his life to pilot Zimbabwe to victory with one wicket and one ball to spare. He put on a match-turning 112-run sixth wicket stand with Elton Chigumbura to take the total to 295 for 5. There were some final nerves as he was dropped twice in the penultimate over, before he clipped a single off the fifth ball of the final over to seal the win and remain unbeaten on 99.

 

Ricky Ponting (Australia), 104 v India, World Cup, Ahmedabad

In what was almost certainly Ponting’s final World Cup match for Australia he produced a century that was a microcosm of Ponting the man. It had skill, grit, bloody-mindedness and daring. It was Ponting. It will probably be his only knock that won’t be remembered for many scintillating shots and will instead be cherished for how responsibly he curbed his natural strokeplay. There was tremendous poise in how he dealt with the slow pitch and a great amount of skill in the way he handled spin. Ponting showed his resolve in the way he held the Australian innings together and admirable character to do it when he wasn’t in great form, on such a big stage, to bring up his first international hundred in 13 months.

 

Virender Sehwag (India), 219 v West Indies, fourth ODI, Indore

Sehwag, the batsman most touted to break Sachin Tendulkar’s record for the highest individual ODI score, didn’t merely break it – he shattered it and raised the bar so high that it’s hard to imagine anyone, apart from Sehwag himself, going past the new mark. Sehwag’s performance led India to 418 for 5, their highest ODI total, and sealed victory in the five-match series against West Indies. It was an innings characteristic of Sehwag’s approach to batting. He hit his second ball for four and simply did not stop.

 

Nominees for best ‘ODI bowling’ performances of the year:

 

Mitchell Johnson (Australia), 6 for 31 v Sri Lanka, first ODI, Pallekele

Johnson may be having his problems in Test cricket, but in ODIs his form was beyond reproach. In August, he produced the fourth-best figures in Australia’s one-day history to set his team on the path to a seven-wicket victory over Sri Lanka. It was taken for granted that spin would be the dominant force – so much so that Johnson was the sixth bowler Michael Clarke turned to after losing the toss. Johnson struck with his third delivery and ran through the middle order to finish with 6 for 31.

 

Shahid Afridi (Pakistan), 5 for 35 v Sri Lanka, fourth ODI, Sharjah

Chasing 201 to level the series Sri Lanka were on course when Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara reduced the equation to 46 needed off 74 balls. Afridi was, however, reading from a script no one else had access to. He derailed the lower order with a mix of legbreaks, googlies and offspinners and Sri Lanka lost their last seven wickets for just 19 runs, and with them, the series. And all this after a 65-ball 75 on a track his team-mates struggled to score on.

 

Tim Southee (New Zealand), 5 for 33 v Pakistan, first ODI, Wellington

On a pitch that was expected to have plenty of runs in it, Pakistan’s batsmen faced an examination of their techniques during an extravagant display of swing and seam bowling from Southee. Once he found his line and length, Southee swung the ball into off and seamed it away. The one that cut back amid the outswingers added to the confusion.

 

Wahab Riaz (Pakistan), 5 for 46 v India, World Cup semi-final, Mohali

The India-Pakistan World Cup semi-final was so big a match that some wondered whether the final would be an anti-climax. There was added pressure on Wahab since he was keeping out Shoaib Akhtar, but he delivered. The pick of the wickets was the dipping, swerving full toss to dismiss Yuvraj Singh on his first ball – a delivery Shoaib would have been proud of. It led to a pumped-up airplane celebration, made famous by… none other than Shoaib, of course.

 

Tim Bresnan (England), 5 for 48 v India, World Cup, Bangalore

In a game with an aggregate of 676 runs, Bresnan’s feat of five wickets in ten overs was outstanding. He limited a rampant Virender Sehwag to two runs in four balls before luring a dab to the keeper, and of the 60 deliveries he bowled in the innings, a mere two – both to Sachin Tendulkar – resulted in shots for which the bowler could be deemed a failure. India lost their last seven wickets for 33, and a possible 370 became 338.

 

Dale Steyn (South Africa), 5 for 50 v India, World Cup, Nagpur

It’s not often that Steyn has figures that read 7-0-46-0. He did, though, when India stampeded to 268 for 2 in 40 overs. In the remaining overs, though, Steyn gave another demonstration of why he’s the world’s leading bowler. He struck twice in the 41st over, removing Gautam Gambhir and Yusuf Pathan, and then, after the game had spiralled out of India’s control in a few minutes, Steyn went on clean up the tail and to complete his five-for, figures scarcely believable when he had been leaking runs with the new ball.

 

Stuart Broad (England), 4 for 15 v South Africa, World Cup, Chennai

A 63-run opening stand had South Africa sauntering towards victory after England had posted a meek 171. However, Broad scripted a fightback to help his side win by six runs. He prompted South Africa’s first collapse by getting the vital wickets of Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis. And then returned to finish the job, holding his nerve even as Dale Steyn threatened to conjure a comeback of his own. Broad trapped Steyn lbw with the first ball of a new spell and three balls later, he dismissed Morne Morkel to wrap up the game.

 

Munaf Patel (India), 4 for 29 v South Africa, second ODI, Johannesburg

With a well-set opener, the target 39 away and six wickets in hand, victory for South Africa seemed a certainty. It didn’t work that way in Johannesburg, as Munaf bowled a decisive spell in which he dislodged top scorer Graeme Smith to trigger a collapse. Munaf returned to finish the job in the 43rd over, when the game was still South Africa’s. What clinched the game for India were two short-of-length deliveries that the tailenders, Morne Morkel and Wayne Parnell, who had batted calmly until then, felt were too good to resist.

 

Shahid Afridi (Pakistan), 4 for 34 v Sri Lanka, World Cup, Colombo

Anyone who thought Pakistan were not dangerous contenders for the World Cup had their views changed after the team’s victory over Sri Lanka in the league phase. One of the architects of the win was Afridi, who knocked over the chase with moments of magic. He first removed Tillakaratne Dilshan with a skidding delivery, then sucked Thilan Samaraweera out of his crease with a loopy, dipping legbreak that had him stumped. He backed that up with the wickets of Kumar Sangakkara and Angelo Mathews to hasten Sri Lanka’s defeat at home.

 

Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka), 5 for 28 v Australia, third ODI, Hambantota

Sri Lanka were 2-0 down in the series but a better batting performance in their third game of this series against Australia gave Malinga something to defend. He began by drawing an edge from Shane Watson to slip, before denying Michael Clarke his third half-century in a row, getting him to chip to mid-on. His third victim was Michael Hussey, who square-drove to point on 63. Once Malinga’s fast, accurate yorkers rattled the stumps of Xavier Doherty and Doug Bollinger, there was no doubt about the outcome

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