DUBAI: Sri Lanka’s new spin sensation Ajantha Mendis was named as the International Cricket Council (ICC) emerging player of the year at an awards ceremony here on Wednesday.
The 23-year-old burst onto the international scene this year by taking an extraordinary 26 wickets at an average of a mere 18.38 apiece in just three Tests with his unique brand of spin bowling, including the ‘carrom ball’, which helped see his country to a series win over India. Topping the voting
Mendis, who topped the voting for his award ahead of a 25-strong voting academy from a trio of pace bowlers in Stuart Broad (England), Morne Morkel (South Africa) and India’s Ishant Sharma, after being nominated by a panel chaired by former West Indies captain Clive Lloyd, also starred in one-dayers.
In eight one-day internationals during the voting period, he took 20 wickets at 10.25.
Indians too made their presence felt at the awards night led by ODI skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. While Dhoni was named the ICC ODI player of the year 2008, Yuvraj Singh walked away with the ICC award for best performance in the Twenty20 World Cup.
Sachin Tendulkar and Dhoni were included in the 12-man ICC World ODI team of the year with Australian Ricky Ponting as captain. Virender Sehwag the only Indian in the 12-man ICC World Test team of the year.
It was five-in-a-row for Australia’s Simon Taufel when he won umpire of the year award. Others in the awards list included the Sri Lanka team (Spirit of Cricket award for second year in a row), Ryan ten Doeschate of the Netherlands (Associate player of the year award), West Indian Shivnarine Chanderpaul (Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for cricketer of the year). Batting mainstay
The 34-year-old Chanderpaul, a mainstay of his side’s batting for over a decade, became the fifth player to win the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy, ahead of his three fellow nominees — Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene, South Africa skipper Graeme Smith and Proteas fast bowler Dale Steyn.
During the voting period, the gritty Guyanese played eight Tests, scoring 819 runs at an average of 91.00, including three centuries and six fifties, all of which were against the top seven teams in the world.
“I am delighted to win the award,” said Mendis after being presented with his trophy by Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene. “It is an honour to play for Sri Lanka and I hope to continue playing for my country for a long time to come.”
Taufel’s award confirmed his standing as the best umpire on the ICC’s elite panel with the 37-year-old receiving his votes from captains of cricket’s leading 10, full member, nations and the eight-man ICC elite panel of match referees.
Taufel, significantly younger than many of his colleagues on the elite list, began his first-class umpiring career while still in his 20s, an early age to be standing in senior matches. Unfortunate
Unfortunately for him, his international career has coincided with Australia’s domination of the world game and a change in policy which means umpires now no longer stand in Tests in which their country is playing.
As a result Taufel, who joined the elite panel in 2003, missed out on standing in last year’s World Cup final, where Australia beat Sri Lanka in Barbados, even though he was arguably the best umpire available.
It was a point the former club cricketer alluded to when he received his award in Dubai, where the ICC is now based, saying: “I’m delighted to win this award but I don’t set this as a goal at the start of a season.
“My goals are to be selected for finals and for major championships like the Champions Trophy or World Twenty20. If Ricky (Ponting, the Australia captain) and the boys slip up, eventually I might get the chance to do a final.” — Agencies