Already that time of year! Once again the Awards will be held in Johannesburg, and the list is rather short on Australian cricketers this time around.
Firstly congrats too Mitchell Johnson (twice), Michael Clarke, Peter Siddle (twice), Michael Hussey, Ben Hilfenhaus, Phillip Hughes, David Hussey, David Warner, Shelley Nitschke, Karen Rolton, Lisa Sthalekar, Steve Davis, Daryl Harper, and Simon Taufel upon being nominated for their respective categories within the cricket world, while representing Australian cricket.
Cricketer of the Year
While Mitchell has carved a strong reputation for himself on the oppositions 'threat list', his Ashes performances were below par and may have taken him away from taking this award. He has done a tremendous amount of growth as an emerging front-line Australian bowler, whilst also making some memorable moments in the middle!
However the three players I see strongly in favour to win this category are:
Tillakaratne Dilshan (SL), Andrew Strauss (ENG), AB de Villiers (RSA). Dilshan has had a really consistent average for Sri-Lanka and provides a dynamic to all forms of the game, and he does appear in nearly every category too! AB de Villiers has just seemed to become a really well marketed cricketer in all forms of the game, and performs when needed too.
Test Player of the Year
Michael Clarke would be my front-line runner for this award. While The Baggy Green's results have been far from impressive, Michael has stood out with the many runs behind his name and the very clear signs of his maturity at the elite level of the game. I think he's in with a strong chance. Sri-Lanka's Tillakaratne Dilshan (as mentioned above) has been a strong performer for his team, while Andrew Strauss has made his major impact in the Test scene and after leading England in their Ashes victory it has probably boosted his chances! AB de Villiers has shown very similar trends to Michael Clarke, and I find them to be very comparable cricketers. I think the two of them are head to head in alot of ways here. Dale Steyn was CSA player of the year, and has really become a spear-head Test bowler, with many wickets too his name. This will be my guess for this category!
ODI Player of the Year
Quite likely MS Dhoni will walk away with this award, like he did last time. An explosive batsman, and he deserves a pat on the back with his leadership. He seems to have tamed the Indian's down quite alot. It is brilliant to see Michael Hussey with a nomination. His one-day game has been very strong, and this ODI series (if it contributes to the awards) can push his chances dramatically. It would be fantastic if he were too walk away with this, but it would seem tough looking at some of the contenders stats and the impact of their performances.
Emerging Player of the Year
Martin Guptill (NZ) has a real fighting chance to take this award after his duties with the bat in hand have steered New Zealand in a brighter direction, while Amit Mishra has been a big find as an emerging spin-bowler.
Ben Hilfenhaus, while a young man, has waited a while for his opportunity to get out there and wear a Baggy Green. But Peter Siddle is my choice to win this award, and I hope he does. He is such a breath of fresh perspective to this team for his attitude, courage and fighting ambition. He has taken a bit of flack with lack of confidence from on-lookers, but he has made an impact worth noting in each Test he has played. Phillip Hughes was front-line to take this, but the Ashes series didn't go his way, and no further cricket till the awards to add to his Australian career, I can't see Phillip in the final running's for this one.
Twenty20 International Performance of the Year
Shahid "Boom Boom" Afridi is a real entertainer and stands in-line to take this award in my opinion. This form of the game is just up his street and he had a major role in Pakistan's 2009 Twenty20 campaign. Tillakaratne Dilshan was the player of the tournament in the 2009 ICC T20 Cup and was very productive with each role he played. Wayne Parnell was a dangerous bowler during the Protea's Twenty20 campaign in England, but he may be just short on performances outside of that tournament to walk away with the award. David Warner started off as an eye-opening prospect with an Australian debit, before even having a First-class game behind his name. He has that now, but he has struggled in ODI's and has only had a few notable performances. But in Twenty20, matching up to 89 is not easy at all!
David Hussey is a Twenty20 specialist, but I just don't think it's been quite significant enough on his part to win the award. Hopefully more to come from Dussey!
Women's Cricketer of the Year
Charlotte Edwards led England to many a victory, and is not shy in her performances leading her team. Karen Rolton (Who ended her reign as Australian skipper after the 2009 ICC T20 Cup), Lisa Sthalekar (Australia), Claire Taylor (England) and Aimee Watkins (New Zealand) will be strong contenders in the Women's Cricketer of the year category.
Umpire of the Year
As always I go with the main man Simon Taufel (Australia). He is consistent, rarely faults and after all he went through after the shooting incident during the Sri-Lanka vs Pakistan series, he deserves it yet again! He sets the benchmark!
Feel free to discuss further, and don't forget Friday is the 1st ODI against England. Time to clean up the remains before heading off to the Champions Trophy. Another big series ahead!