Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Cricket World Cup 2011 Oscars

Its awards time at The Cricket Musings! This is an opportunity to commemorate the stand out performances of the 2011 world cup, be it good, bad or quirky. The judge and jury will be yours truly, however no physical awards will be handed out, as we believe cricketers are paid quite enough. Lets begin.

The Most Annoying Celebration Award
Winner - Harbhajan Singh
Removed Afridi in the semi-final with an off-stump full toss that deserved to be smashed over extra cover for six. We saw instead the token Afridi miscue, and Bhajji going off in a bizarre screaming, head twirling, seizure style celebration. Most of his wickets in the tournament came off average to rubbish deliveries.

Honorable Mention
The famous Afridi "bow before me" pose.

The Dodgy Hairstyle Award
Winner - Sreesanth
An horrid cross between Don King and Edward Scissorhands. After playing two games and getting tonked everywhere, this is the only accolades he will get.

Boo. © AFP

The Two-Face Award
Winner - Ross Taylor
The man who turned it all around for New Zealand. Should have been out twice, and looked woeful for most of his innings, before unleashing a hulk style assault on the hapless Pakistanis. Never before had I seen such a dramatic turn around in one mans innings.

Honorable Mentions
Umar Gul - From demon to deck scrubber in no time at all. Picked the worst game to do it as well.
Kamran Akmal - Also made the quick switch from iron gloves to good keeper, no surprises to see two Pakistani's nominated for this one.

The Houdini Award
Winner - Ireland
Ireland were fighting hard chasing a huge total, but never looked like winning at the halfway stage, with the odds 400-1 for an Irish win. Enter big burly Kevin O'Brien, who unleashed an onslaught so unbelievable it became the grandstand for the biggest upset of the world cup.

Honorable Mention
New Zealand - Didn't deserve to even get close against a South Africa side that appeared to be cruising along. Enter some brilliant catching, fielding and sledging, and the gritty Kiwi's sent the highly fancied team packing.

The Anticlimax Award
Winner - Pakistan
For their failure to turn up in what should have been the match of the tournament. Thank you for ruining the match with atrocious fielding and shot selection, and also for robbing Shoaib Akhtar of a final hurrah. I have massive doubts over the legitimacy of all this, but that can of worms can be opened another day. Special mention also to Razzaq, who disappointingly didn't produce any batting miracle we know he can give us.

The Irony Award
Winner - Saeed Ajmal and Harbhajan Singh
For delivering a perfect doosra to the very man who endorsed it. Poetic really.

The Umpire Howler Award
Winner - Amiesh Saheba
For denying Nathan McCullum what was a clean catch, and costing New Zealand crucial momentum in that match. Disgraceful.

Honorable Mention - Bruce Oxenford
The Gary Wilson situation, where the batsman was deemed to have not been playing a shot and given LBW, though he clearly was. Don't blame the technology, blame the moron behind it. Secondly, why not just do away with this stupid rule, if the ball will hit the stumps, it will hit the stumps. Period.

Best Quote
Winner - Waqar Younis
When asked the difference between Kamran Akmal and Michael Jackson, i.e. they both wear gloves for no reason, the reply was "The difference is one is dead". Brilliant, albeit not very politically correct.

Honorable Mention - Darren Sammy
Putting Graeme Swann's typical English whining in it's place, "... if there is dew, just get a towel and wipe the ball, simple".

The Sammy Swagger never made it on the field though. © Getty Images

Best Piece Of Fielding
Winner - Chris Mpofu
For a stunning throw from the boundary that crashed into the stumps and sent a comfortable Ponting on his way. Inadvertently led to a poor LCD TV feeling Punters wrath.

Honorable Mentions
Nathan McCullum - For that aforementioned catch that was wrongly denied.
Jesse Ryder - For a stunning diving catch that sent the dangerous Upul Tharanga on his way. Big man or not, he can move all right.
Jacob Oram - The catch that turned the match. Removing Kallis in the quarter final was one of the huge blows for South Africa. Notice how there are three kiwi's on this list?

Best Bowling Performance
Winner - Dale Steyn 5 wickets for 50 runs vs India
Blew away the hapless Indian lower order to bring back South Africa from what should have been a slaughtering. He is a brilliant fast bowler wasted on dead tracks.

Honorable Mentions
Tim Bresnan 5 for 48 vs India  - Similar situation to Steyn, crucially held it together to ensure that the Indian onslaught did not end up at 400.
Ravi Rampaul 5 for 51 vs India - Awesome performance for a man who was initially left out, it should have been a match winning one too.
Shahid Afridi 4 for 34 vs Sri Lanka - This performance in Sri Lanka's back yard was a towering pillar on the night, amazing how it all just disappears when it counts the most.

Best Individual Innings
Winner - Kevin O'Brien 113 vs England
Incredible stuff from the big man against the old enemy. World records aside, what made this knock special was the underdog context behind it.

Honorable Mentions
Mahela Jayawardene 103 vs India - Beautifully crafted this innings with only silken, delightful stroke-play and deserved to be a winning masterpiece.
Ross Taylor 134 vs Pakistan - As mentioned earlier, this incredible innings seemed to restore the hunger and self belief that drove New Zealand to the semi finals.
Virender Sehwag 175 Bangladesh - The warning to the world. Sehwag got the revenge he desired by bullying a capable Bangladeshi attack on their home turf.
Andrew Strauss 158 vs India - A classy, correct innings that got the world to notice England, too bad he got reduced to a bumbling mess in their quarter final exit.

Best Utility
Winner - Yuvraj Singh 
Put away all the flashy stuff and eased himself to controlled, match winning half centuries. Also had the golden arm in the tournament, putting Bhajji to shame by bowling tight, getting turn and picking up timely wickets. Even his fielding was back to his younger days (almost).

Honorable Mentions
The New Zealand Team - They are the definition of utility players. A failure with the bat or ball doesn't mean the end of their day, and when the whole machine fits together, they are only a Crowe or a Hadlee short of a champion team.
Trent Johnson - Was his usual old self, tonking useful runs, taking sharp catches and snapping up crucial wickets. Records will never show how valuable this guy is.

Best Fielding Unit
Winner - New Zealand
By a country mile. Their catching and ground fielding was absolutely peerless, and South Africa more than anyone know the reward what brilliant fielding can bring. The difference between being a crashed out quarter finalist, and a respected semi-finalist.

Best Match
Winner - England vs Ireland
*That* match again, enough has been said about it already.

Honorable Mentions
India vs England - But for the underdog status of the Irish, this would have been the match of the tournament. 
India vs South Africa - Another frantic match that ebbed and flowed more than the stock markets. A real lesson on how to stop a batting juggernaut.
South Africa vs England - The choke that got them worried.
South Africa vs New Zealand - The choke that sent them home.

Best Overall Bowler
Winner - Zaheer Khan
By a country mile. He is no more the fiery quick of 2003 or the one who got manhandled by Tamim Iqbal in 2007. He has developed a Vaas-like guile and control to his bowling, and without him, India would not have won the world cup. Make no mistake about that.

Dishonorable Mention
Afridi may have equalled the wicket tally with Zaheer, but ripping through Canada and Kenya doesn't count, thank you very much.

Best Overall Batsman
Winner - Sachin Tendulkar
This choice was surprisingly easy. Dilshan may have more runs, but look at the context of the performances. Given the collapses that followed, the centuries against England and South Africa were invaluable. His half century against Australia was of the highest order, and as ugly as his Pakistan knock was, it was the difference between 260 and 160. Much like Zaheer, his presence was a big reason why India came out victorious.

The image that will be etched in the memories of 2011. © AFP

This tournament truly was a festival of cricket, providing the full array of skills and plenty of thrilling moments. Well done to the participants, for providing a fantastic and memorable world cup, be it through mighty ability, or moments of ineptitude. Farewell also to Muralitharan, who was one match shy of the grand exit he richly deserved.

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