Friday, September 12, 2008

Where's Yousuf?

Mohammad Yousuf was in contention for the ICC ODI Player of the Year, but wasn't picked in the ODI Team of the Year.

Mohammad Yousuf, the Pakistan batsman, was one of the players nominated for ICC's ODI Player-of-the-Year Award. Yousuf didn't win; Mahendra Singh Dhoni did. And Dhoni and fellow nominees, Sachin Tendulkar and Nathan Bracken, were named in the ODI Team of the Year, Yousuf wasn't. Yousuf's omission was puzzling not only because he was one of the nominees for the top award, but also one of the prolific run-scorers in the period considered by the ICC.

The awards were based on performances from August 9, 2007 to August 12, 2008. In that period, Yousuf scored 1161 runs at 68.29; among batsmen with at least 500 runs, only Shivnarine Chanderpaul had a better average and he wasn't in the ODI team either. Pakistan did play back-to-back series against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh but even if you considered performances only against the top eight ODI teams, Yousuf's average is 59.09. (Click here for the top batsmen with at least 10 ODI innings.)

In the ICC's XI, only Yousuf's team-mate Younis Khan averaged as much. Ricky Ponting and Andrew Symonds were the other middle-order batsmen in the team but Ponting, the captain, averaged only 42.23 in 20 innings, while Symonds fared marginally better with an average of 45.

Another surprise pick was allrounder Farveez Maharoof, who played only seven matches in the period. Granted that he took 14 wickets at 17.42, but he scored only 45 runs in four innings. (Click here to see the best bowlers against the top eight teams.)

In the ICC's Test Team of the Year, Kumar Sangakkara was chosen as the wicketkeeper but he kept wickets in only one Test out of Sri Lanka's ten during the period under consideration. He's played as a specialist batsman while Prasanna Jayawardene has impressed one and all with his sharp glove work while keeping to Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis. However, the other Test keepers fared poorly with the bat, a factor that could have swung the vote Sangakkara's way. England may have seen a turnaround under Kevin Pietersen's leadership, but his position in the middle order denies a place to either of AB De Villiers, Andrew Symonds or Michael Clarke - all three averaged over 55, while Pietersen managed only 47.25. (Click here for the top batsmen during the selection period.)