Friday, 7 September 2007

Take a bow, Jhulan!

So it’s official. Blue Billion, eat your heart out. They maybe demigods back home but the naked truth is the Men in Blue simply do not match up to the best in the business. And you have International Cricket Council (ICC) to vouch for that.

The ICC shortlist for its annual award doesn’t include a single player from the bunch led by Rahul Dravid. However, for India, the lone saving grace is Jhulan Goswami, that beanpole from the women’s team who is in the fray for the Women Cricketer of the Year award.

Australian captain Ricky Ponting is gunning for his second Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy as the Cricketer of the Year, even though the field has ‘former’ Pakistan run-glutton Mohammad Yousuf (who has deserted Pakistan Cricket Board and defected to Indian Cricket League), spin-phobe Kevin Pietersen and West Indian Shivnarine Chanderpaul of the anti-glare-strips-beneath-the-eyes fame.

The initial ICC long list had Zaheer Khan and Anil Kumble in the 'Test Player of the Year' category, while Yuvraj Singh figured in the ODI list. But when ICC announced a pruned up list, the Team India troika could not be sighted there.

Instead, Jhulan shines in company of Lisa Sthalekar (Australia) and Claire Taylor (England) and whether she wins the award or not, she has already stolen a march over her spoilt cousins in the Team India ranks. And for those unfamiliar with her, Jhulan bowls at a steady 120 kmph, slightly better than what a certain Irfan Pathan does these days.

For those who have not seen Jhulan in action, imagine Glenn McGrath undergoing a certain operation and turning up with the cherry in his…er…her…I mean, whatever, hand. The same, smooth run-up and the ability to land the ball on its seam delivery after delivery.

Jhulan was India’s vice captain in last year’s tour of England and left serious psychological dent in the opponent camp with her scorching pace. Thanks to her show, her side won the Test series there, and she the Player of the Series award.

So while we gloat and bloat over Dravid’s men’s comeback in the ODI series, spare a thought for Jhulan and take our hats off.

ICC Shortlist:

Cricketer of the Year: Shivnarine Chanderpaul (WI), Kevin Pietersen (Eng) ,Ricky Ponting (Aus) Mohammed Yousuf (Pak)

Test Player: Muttiah Muralitharan (SL), Kevin Pietersen (Eng), Ricky Ponting (Aus) , Mohammad Yousuf (Pak)

ODI Player: Matthew Hayden (Aus), Jacques Kallis (SA), Glenn McGrath (Aus), Ricky Ponting (Aus)

Emerging Player: Ravinder Bopara (Eng), Shakib Al Hasan (Bang), Shaun Tait (Aus), Ross Taylor (NZ)

Captain of the Year: Mahela Jayawardene (SL), Ricky Ponting (Aus)

Associate ODI Player of the Year: Ashish Bagai (Can), Thomas Odoyo (Ken), Ryan ten Doeschate (Neth), Steve Tikolo (Ken)

Umpire of the Year: Mark Benson, Steve Bucknor, Simon Taufel

Women's Cricketer of the Year: Jhulan Goswami (Ind), Lisa Sthalekar (Aus), Claire Taylor (Eng)

Image: Touchline Photo

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