Friday, October 02, 2009

Was South Africa robbed in the ICC Awards?

I believed in the afirmative and checked if the cold, hard facts supports the contention.

World Test XI: Gautam Gambhir (India), Andrew Strauss (England), AB de Villiers (South Africa), Sachin Tendulkar (India), Thilan Samaraweera (Sri Lanka), Michael Clarke (Australia), MS Dhoni (India, capt & wk), Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh), Mitchell Johnson (Australia), Stuart Broad (England), Dale Steyn (South Africa), Harbhajan Singh (India, 12th man)

I used Cricinfo Statsguru with the following conditions - 600+ runs, 50+ average, 3 or more hundreds. The list shows: Clarke (17/1440/53/5), Strauss (14/1323/60/6), Gambhir (8/1269/84/5), Samaraweera (8/1067/60/3), Tendulkar (9/896/55/3), Dilshan (8/848/71/4), Jayawardena (8/802/57/3), Sarwan (9/782/60/4), Gayle (9/698/53/3), AB de Villiers (8/603/60/3)

That clears the air about South African batsmen not making to this list. Only 1 managed to sneak in from a stats perspective. So, if there were test batsmen who could complain, it should be the Sri Lankans who managed only 1 entry though they had 3 folks in the above said shortlist. The reason is that they played Pakistan (away, 2 matches), Bangladesh (2 matches), Pakistan (home, 3), NZ (home, 1) - not strong opposition. 

Test Team Wicketkeeper:
My pick would need at least 300 runs, 40+ average, 10 dismissals, at least 2 50+ scores. I shortlisted 4 candidates after eliminating players who had too many matches & too few dismissals (Matt Prior) or too few matches (Pak, SL & WI WKs). McCullum (10/555/34.68/2h,3f/38-35c+3s), Brad Haddin (16/1028/41/2h,3f/55-54c+1s), Mark Boucher (8/316/28/1h,1f/26-24c+2s), Dhoni (8/554/0h,7f,28-24c+4s). 

Once again we can eliminate any claims of anti-SA bias. Dhoni got the vote because he led India to series win in NZ and he displayed some consistent batting. However, i feel for Haddin. He got robbed. Dhoni won on star power than stats power!

For the bowlers, my criteria was 40 wickets, less than 3.5 RPO, less than 65 SR. 5 made the cut - Johnson (17/80/27/3.12), Siddle (12/49/29/3), Swann (12/48/30/3), Shakib Al Hassan (8/45/23/2.67), Broad (13/40/31/3.3).
Of this list, Hasan, Broad and Johnson made the list. While i understand Johnson & Hasan, i don't get Broad. Steyn missed the list because he had a higher RPO - 3.62 while his remaining stats look good (8/42/27). Bhajji missed the earlier cut because he had 39 wickets (8/39/27/2.5). 
Broad should consider himself very lucky. Not only did Swann have better bowling figures, his batting figures weren't bad either - 12/354/35/0h,3f compared to Broad's 13/395/26/0h,2f. I would have had put Bhajji in the team and have Siddle/Swann be the 12th man.

World ODI XI Team: Virender Sehwag (Ind), Chris Gayle (WI), Kevin Pietersen (Eng), Tillakaratne Dilshan (SL), Yuvraj Singh (Ind), Martin Guptill (NZ), MS Dhoni (Ind, captain, WK), Andrew Flintoff (Eng), Nuwan Kulasekara (SL), Ajantha Mendis (SL), Umar Gul (Pak), 12th man: Thilan Thushara (SL)

ODI Batsmen criteria: 400 runs, 40+ ave, 80+ SR, 4 or more fifties. Dhoni (24/967/60/9f/86SR), Yuvraj (24/949/48/4h,3f/106), Gayle (21/942/50/4h,2f,110) and Sehwag (14/782/60/2h,6f,128) are a cut above competition and invited themselves to the party. Guptill (12/448/56/1h,3f/87) made it on superior average. No idea why Dilshan (12/473/47/1h,3f/88) made it over  Hussey (18/699/54/0h,7f/87) and Amla (13/549/50/1h,3f/88) - both of them should consider themselves unlucky. The luckiest person on the list isn't Dilshan but Pieterson (16/440/44/1h,2f/93) who wasn't even the best player on the English team. That honor should go to Owain Shah (18/535/44.5/0h,5f/86). These records compare to Taylor (18/591/45.5/1h,4f/81) and AB de Villiers (18/614/44/oh,5f/88). Slight anti-SA bias but not too much for the huge uproar that we can expect.

ODI All-rounder criteria: 200 runs, 10 wickets. 17 players qualify but 3 folks seperated themselves by having Batting Ave above 35 & Bowling ave below 26. Flintoff (14m/304r/38ba.av/23w/20ba.av) seperates himself in this group that includes Duminy (19/476/37/10/25.4) and Shakib Al Hasan (22/665/37/30/25.6) though Hasan would have won any other year.

ODI Bowler's criteria: 25 wickets, Bow Ave less than 35, RPO less than 6. 12 players made the cut. Mendis (22/46/16/4.15), Kulasekara (24/43/19/4.33), Umar Gul (12/26/20/5) blow the opposition away. Outside this batch, there is a lot of close competition between Thushara (22/34/21/4.7), Steyn (16/28/24/5), Muralitharan (22/36/21.6/4.5), Johnson (16/28/24/5). The 12th man spot was a toss-up and i think the panel made a tough choice. I don't think anyone can make a case one way or the other on the 12th man.

In summary - there doesn't seem to be anti-SA bias. SA didn't have a few people contributing while others suffered slumps. Everyone in the team contributed their bit and hence their rise in Team rankings (the other explanation is that the Aussies slipped and hence elevating SA to the top spot!). They shouldn't show outrage for not having more players because they didn't play a lot of tests and there weren't standouts in the tests that they played. In the ODIs, there is a case for inclusion of Amla, but that's about the amount of under-representation from SA in the World teams.

My changes: 
  • Test Team: Haddin replaces Dhoni as WK. Bhajji replaces Broad who goes out completely. Siddle becomes the 12th man. Captaincy to Shakib.
  • ODI Team: Amla & Hussey replace Dilshan & Pieterson.

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