Major ICC award for Johnson

Australian paceman Mitchell Johnson has bagged the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy after being named the International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricketer of the Year 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 the 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 semifinal at the Twenty20 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. — Sapa-AFP

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