Michael Clarke has been named Cricketer of the Year and Test Cricketer of the Year, two of the most prestigious awards annually announced by the ICC. Clarke’s wins come despite Australia having a wretched time during a 12-month spell till August, the period over which performances are considered for the awards.
The honours were announced on the first day of Clarke’s 100th Test, against England in Perth.They come largely on the basis of his prolific run in Tests, amassing 1559 runs in the voting period, more than 300 better than the next highest, Alastair Cook. His five Test centuries included two double-hundreds and a 187 against England. Over the past year, Australia lost several senior players to retirement, and Clarke needed to guide an inexperienced side besides battling chronic back trouble.
Hashim Amla and James Anderson had been in the running for both prizes. The only other man to be nominated for two main awards and lose was MS Dhoni, who was in the race for Cricketer of the Year and ODI Cricketer of the Year.
Previous winners of the Cricketer of the Year award include Rahul Dravid (2004), Andrew Flintoff and Jacques Kallis (joint winners in 2005), Ricky Ponting (2006 and 2007), Shivnarine Chanderpaul (2008), Mitchell Johnson (2009), Sachin Tendulkar (2010), Jonathan Trott (2011) and Kumar Sangakkara (2011).
This year, Sangakkara was named the ODI Cricketer of the Year – the one major award that he missed out in 2012. He was the leading run-getter in the format, with 956 runs at 63.73 including a career-best 169 against South Africa.
India’s Cheteshwar Pujara took the Emerging Cricketer prize. He has only played two ODIs, but he was among five batsmen to score over 1000 Test runs during the voting period, averaging 82.53 with four hundreds in 10 Tests. Though Pujara made his debut back in 2010, he was eligible for the Emerging Player award as he had played less than five Tests at the start of the voting period, and is less than 26 years old.
Ireland’s Kevin O’Brien won the Associate and Affiliate award, recognised for his all-round performances in helping Ireland qualify for the 2015 World Cup.
The Women’s ODI Cricketer of the Year was New Zealand’s Suzie Bates, who topped the charts with 681 runs at 75.66 with two hundreds and five half-centuries in 11 innings. She was also the top run-getter in the women’s World Cup in Mumbai early this year. England’s Sarah Taylor took home the T20 award.
The other T20 prize went to Pakistan’s Umar Gul, for his spell of 5 for 6 against South Africa in Centurion.
The Umpire of the Year award went to England’s Richard Kettleborough, just two years after being promoted to the Elite Panel, and four years after his international debut.
Mahela Jayawardene won the Spirit of Cricket award for walking after being caught behind on 91 at a crucial juncture of the Galle Test against New Zealand.