Thursday, 10 April 2008

Thoughts on Wisden 2008

With a reassuring clunk, it's arrived again: the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack of 2008. A treasure trove of statistics and of considerable literary value: toilet reading of the highest order.

The Five Cricketers of the Year are Shivnarine Chanderpaul; Ryan Sidebottom; Zaheer Khan; Otis Gibson - all certainties - and Ian Bell. Bell can count himself fortunate: while he was Man of the Series in the ODIs against India, 2007 was neither his breakthrough year nor a year of stunning personal achievement. While it is true that there were not too many other candidates for this year, there must have been a good case for Glen Chapple, a county pro par excellance who took 49 CC wickets at just over 20; or Stephen Fleming, who averaged over 50 in the Notts side he skippered to promotion. Fleming, for this and his career as a whole, would have been a worthy choice.

More intriguing is the Leading Cricketer of the Year: the first man on a world XI teamsheet, based on his performances from 2007. It is Jacques Kallis, though Brett Lee, had he not missed the World Cup, could well have won it. After a year in which he found a new-found ability to dominate, and averaged 86 in Tests and 58 in ODIs, he is pretty hard to argue with. Hard to love, yes, but he is an outstanding batsman and more-than-handy in the other two disciplines. Kallis has 30 Test hundreds, with the promise of many more to come in the increasingly impressive South Africa side. A great, indisputably, and a worthy recipient of this award.

9 comments:

Chrispy said...

It would have been nice if Fleming had been named, but mainly nostalgic. I think Bell just about deserves it. As Scyld Berry says, he is on the cusp of greatness, but he does make you wonder sometimes whether or not he will make it over. I think he will, eventually! Kallis is a machine when it comes to run scoring, and he sure loves that average! I feel very sorry for Lee though. He had a fantastic year and deserved to star at the WC. His time will come again though.

Richard Lake said...

In all reality Bell should have won it last year following his three consecutive tons. I seem to remember Wisedn copping out and giving it to Colly on the basis that Bell's turn would come again. Reversing the awards for the two of them probably tells a more realistic picture.

As for Kallis, I just can't get excited about him in the way that I can about Brett Lee, Ricky Ponting or even Rahul Dravid. He'll retire with fantastic averages, but he's never struck me as a team player and surely the truely greats should be about more than just numbers?

Rob said...

Did I hear Kumar Sangakara's name... oddly not.

Tim said...

Sanga's form was a bit of a myth: two unbeaten 200s v Bangladesh distorted his average rather a lot! That said, his 192 at Hobart was one of the great innings.

Richard: agree that, with hindsight, swapping them around would make sense! Colly not in the top 40 players in the world today? Pretty outrageous. Worse still, neither was Ramps (even though Lehmann was last year for less impressive domestic feats!)

Olly said...

Bell is clearly a class player and it's great to see that he's beginning to stamp his mark on International cricket; for me he should be nailed on as England's number 3 in both forms of the game. Nonetheless I don't see how he has been one of the cricketers of the year- Michael Clarke- another budding middle order batsmen has been far more impressive. Sangakarra, as has been mentioned was class in every innings that he played, while the Australians who won the Ashes and the World Cup at a canter have been overlooked.

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