Johnson named Cricketer of the Year

JOHANESSBURG: Australian paceman Mitchell Johnson has bagged the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy after being named the International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricketer of the Year, it was announced here on Thursday.

The left-arm paceman became the sixth player to win the trophy after India’s Rahul Dravid (2004), England’s Andrew Flintoff and South Africa’s Jacques Kallis (joint winners in 2005), Ricky Ponting of Australia (2006 and 2007) and Shivnarine Chanderpaul (2008) of West Indies.

“I’m really blown away. I am just surprised to be up here. It has been a great 12 months for our side,” said Johnson. “We have lost some wonderful players in recent years and we have been rebuilding with some young guys in the team and we have played together well. I’m enjoying the game at the moment and that makes all the difference.”

Johnson, whose side lost the Ashes this year, fought off stiff competition from Indians Gautam Gambhir and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and England’s Ashes-winning captain Andrew Strauss. Johnson bagged 80 wickets in 17 Tests, the highest by any Test bowler in the year.

Opening batsman Gambhir won the Test Player of the Year award, warding off stiff competition from Johnson, Sri Lankan batsman Thilan Samaraweera and Strauss. Wicketkeeper-batsman Dhoni pipped compatriots Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag, and Chanderpaul to bag the One-Day Player of the Year award.

“It’s been a dream run for me. I never thought it could be like this but life has changed for me and I am very happy,” said Gambhir, who scored 1,269 runs in eight Tests during the 12-month period.

“As a unit we have played very well and I am just glad to contribute to the overall success of the team.”

Sri Lankan batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan won the Twenty20 International Performance of the Year award for his unbeaten 96 off 57 balls against the West Indies in the semi-final at the Twenty 20 World Championships in England. “This is a great feeling for me. I can’t forget that innings. It was so important and I was really happy about my overall performance in that tournament,” said Dilshan. “It was a thrill for me to do well in England and do well for my team. I’m really proud of myself for having a new shot named after me (the Dilscoop). That shot has given me confidence.”

Australian paceman Peter Siddle claimed Emerging Player of the Year award. “Getting to represent my country is an enormous honour and it has been a great time for me to be part of the team. It’s been very enjoyable,” said Siddle.

New Zealand won the Spirit of Cricket award, presented to the team which, in the opinion of the ICC umpires and match referees and the 10 full member captains, has best conducted itself on the field within the spirit of the game. Ireland captain William Porterfield won the Associate Player of the Year award while Pakistan’s Aleem Dar was named Umpire of the Year.

“I am very pleased to get this award. Thanks to PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) and ICC as well as my friends and family and of course my wife, who I have to leave for long periods of time,” said Dar. England’s Claire Taylor was named the Women’s Cricketer of the Year.

The awards were based on performances between August 13, 2008 and August 24, 2009. The selection panel was chaired by West Indies legend Clive Lloyd, with former cricketers Anil Kumble of India, Bob Taylor of England, Pakistan’s Mudassar Nazar and New Zealander Stephen Fleming being the other members.

India’s wicket-keeper Dhoni has been named captain of the ICC World One-Day Team of Year. Dhoni, who leads India in Test, one-day and Twenty20 cricket, was also named captain of the ICC World Test Team of the Year.

ICC ODI TEAM OF THE YEAR: Virender Sehwag (IND), Chris Gayle (WIS), Kevin Pietersen (ENG), Tillakaratne Dilshan (SRI), Yuvraj Singh (IND), Martin Guptill (NZL), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (IND, capt), Andrew Flintoff (ENG), Nuwan Kulasekara (SRI), Ajantha Mendis (SRI), Umar Gul (PAK). 12th man: Thilan Thushara (SRI). TEST TEAM: Gautam Gambhir (IND),

Andrew Strauss (ENG), AB

de Villiers (RSA), Sachin

Tendulkar (IND), Thilan Samaraweera (SRI), Michael Clarke (AUS), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (IND, capt), Shakib Al Hasan (BAN), Mitchell Johnson (AUS), Stuart Broad (ENG), Dale Steyn (RSA), 12th man: Harbhajan Singh (IND).

ICC award winners

• Cricketer of the Year: Mitchell Johnson (AUS)

• Test Player of the Year: Gautam Gambhir (IND)

• One-day Player of the Year: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (IND)

• Emerging Player of the Year: Peter Siddle (AUS)

• Associate and Affiliate Player of the Year (non-Test nations): William Porterfield (IRL)

• Twenty20 International Performance of the Year: Tillakaratne

Dilshan (SRI) — 96 not out off 57 balls against the West Indies

in the World Twenty20 semi-final at the Oval on June 19.

• Women’s Cricketer of the Year: Claire Taylor (ENG)

• Umpire of the Year: Aleem Dar (PAK)

• Spirit of Cricket Award: New Zealand