Wisden’s 5 Cricketers of the Year and Virender Sehwag

14 04 2010

Among other things, including the start of the new county cricket season and in these modern times the IPL, each new April brings us that bastion of cricketing responsibility, ‘The Wisden Almanac’. Eagerly awaited amongst the cricketing public (particularly the English public), Wisden’s very presence year after year is reassuring. Steadfast in its focus on test cricket, it harks back to a simpler age, glorying in the achievements and quirks of the longer form.

Wisden Five Cricketers of the Year

Of primary interest to most people is who the Wisden has selected as its five cricketers of the year. As perhaps can be expected, there is a heavy English flavour with only Michael Clarke getting a look in from other nations. Before we go any further, it is necessary to point out that Scyld Berry, Wisden’s current editor, has used as his selection criterion ‘excellence in the previous English Summer’. The list in full is:

  • Graeme Swann
  • Stuart Broad
  • Graham Onions
  • Matt Prior
  • Michael Clarke

These names (listed in no particular order) have, as mentioned above, a distinctly English bent to them. The Compulsive Hooker, whilst agreeing wholeheartedly with one or two of these selections, has some lingering doubts about the worthy nature of one or two others.

  • Swann, having bowled brilliantly throughout the series and year as a whole, is a shoe in. Over the year as a whole, he has taken 54 wickets at an average of 27 and has finished second to Mitchell Johnson. No problems there.
  • Stuart Broad also had a successful year, finishing third on the wicket taking list with 48 at 28, behind the aforementioned pair above. Again, no issues with his selection.
  • Graham Onions, whilst having a good record over the year with 25 wickets at 28 apiece, strikes me as a slightly funny selection. Undoubtedly successful against the West Indies and certainly had his moments (notably his 2 wickets in the first 2 balls of the second day at Edgbaston), but he was dropped for 2 of the 5 test matches. Since then he has continued being dropped and then picked again suggesting that he has not quite done enough. If this is the case, then in my eyes he has probably also not done quite enough to get into Wisden.
  • Matt Prior is another that, to us, hasn’t quite done enough. His overall record is good with 740 runs at 43 and one hundred, yet bar one important 60 odd during the Ashes, he was unexceptional. His glove work has drastically improved though and he was much the better keeper during that series.
  • Michael Clarke is the other no brainer as far as selection goes. Leading run scorer for the Aussies during the Ashes and over 1000 runs over the course of the year mean that we have no problems with him being picked.

The Ashes of course went to England despite almost all the statistics being weighted heavily in favour of the Australians. It is therefore entirely likely that had Australia won the series this list would in all likelihood have an entirely different look to it. Of the Australian players that could have been picked, Ponting, Hilfenhaus, Siddle and North spring to mind yet they are rightly handicapped by being on the losing side. Bearing in mind all we said above though, we would have swapped Onions for Hilfenhaus as he was one of the most impressive bowlers on display during that amazing Summer.

Wisden’s Leading Player of the Year

Virender Sehwag has been picked for the second year running as being the worlds leading cricketer. The reason proffered is that his already remarkable statistics of 631 runs at 70.11, have come at a strike rate of over a run a ball. This is quite honestly a mindboggling achievement as these runs were scored against quality attacks and include and astonishing 293 off only 254 balls against Sri Lanka.

Seeing Sehwags name up in the lights once more, reinforces our feelings of sorrow that India’s focus is on the shorter forms of the games these days, as we for one would pay gladly to see Sehwag bat more in test cricket. His overall career record is doubly amazing as his runs come at a strike rate of over 80 per 100 balls, approximately 20 runs quicker than even other master blasters like Chris Gayle. To score this quickly and to average over 50 as well…… Simply extraordinary.

The only chink in Sehwag’s statistical armour is his record against England and New Zealand. Probably it is a combination of his style and the moving ball in these countries meaning it is more difficult to hit early, but to be rated in the same class as the original master blaster,Viv Richards, this needs to improve. It is worth noting however that he has hardly scored a run against Bangladesh in several test matches. Clearly the challenge is not enough to stir the great man.

Wisden Test XI 2009

Virender Sehwag (India), Andrew Strauss (England), Gautam Gambhir (India), Sachin Tendulkar (India), Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka), Jacques Kallis (South Africa), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk & capt, India), Mitchell Johnson (Australia), Graeme Swann (England), Peter Siddle (Australia), James Anderson (England).

For the most part no problems here and we are particularly pleased to see Strauss’ name in there who was one of only 7 batsman to score 1000 test runs in 2009. The one thing that strikes us here is what an extraordinarily strong batting line up it is, with that colossus Jacques Kallis all the way down at 6 in the order.

The one selection that we have a bone of contention with is Jimmy Anderson. For us, he blew hot and cold during 2009 and his figures of 40 wickets at 33 suggest this is not just an illusion. We would have been tempted to slip either Stuart Broad or Ben Hilfenhaus in in his stead. Had the Sri Lankan’s or Indians played a little more test cricket the likes of Kulasekara or Zaheer Khan may have made it in as they had a major impact in the small amount of games they played.

Whoever you think should have made it into these lists above, the revered Almanac has not let the buying public down and is yet again, a brilliantly written and interesting book that all serious cricket lovers should possess.

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