Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 - a Ratings Year in Review

As England retain the Ashes and 2010 moves into 2011 it gives us the opportunity to have a look back at the last year in the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings to see who the biggest achievers have been over the last twelve months of international cricket.

For the second successive year, no batsmen managed to break the elusive 900 point barrier. Back in 2008 five different batsmen managed to sneak through, but the highest points tally in 2010 was 891 by Sachin Tendulkar in October, when he soared back to the top spot he had most recently occupied in August 2002. Tendulkar was one of four batsmen who were ranked number one at various stages of the year and it was a triumphant year for India as three of their famed top-order achieved the feat. The year dawned with Gautam Gambhir at the top, and his opening partner Virender Sehwag also enjoyed a period of time there. The only batsman to upset the Indian dominance was Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara who ended the year at number one.

The year’s highest-rated innings was played by Hashim Amla, who had a memorable 2010 in all forms of the game. His undefeated 253 against India at Nagpur helped the touring South Africans to an innings victory. Next up was Chris Gayle’s 333 against Sri Lanka at Galle in November and in third place come two Jonathan Trott innings – his 184 against Pakistan at Lord’s and his undefeated 168 against Australia at Melbourne.

With the ball, 2010 was very much the Dale Steyn show with the South African speedster holding onto the top spot he inherited from Muttiah Muralitharan in July 2009 for the entire twelve months, peaking at 897 right at the end of the year following his eight wickets against India at Durban. Graeme Swann – trying to become the first English off-spinner since Jim Laker in 1959 to rank number 1 – was Steyn’s closest challenger, peaking at 858 points in August.

England’s James Anderson passed 200 Test wickets late in the year, and he has the honour of the highest-rated performance of the year. His eleven wickets against Pakistan at Nottingham came at a cost of just 71 runs. Next up is Australia’s Jekyll-and-Hyde pace ace Mitchell Johnson, who followed up his 0-170 against England at Brisbane with nine wickets at Perth to lead the home side to a series-levelling triumph. Graeme Swann’s ten wickets at Chittagong in March round out the top three.

In the shorter for of the game, four batsman had the honour of being able to look down at the rest of the batting world. India’s captain MS Dhoni started the year at the top, and subsequently Mike Hussey, AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla all enjoyed spells as number one, with Amla currently in pole position. And it is the South African’s current points tally of 854 which was the highest achieved by anyone over the course of the year – not bad for someone who only made his ODI debut in March 2008!

As in the Test arena, bowling in One Day International cricket was dominated by one man. New Zealand’s Daniel Vettori sneaked ahead of Shakib-al-Hasan in November 2009 and has not relinquished that position since, with Zimbabwe’s Ray Price the closest challenger. Vettori peaked at 768 points in March and Price’s best was 722 achieved in the West Indies series the same month.

Two all-rounders continued their form from 2009 to lead their respective tables for all twelve months of 2010. Jacques Kallis has spent more matches as the top-rated all-rounder in Test cricket than anyone else – 421 in total. He showed no signs of slowing down as he finally made his maiden Test double-century to occupy top spot for the fourth complete year on the trot. In ODI cricket, Shakib-al-Hasan continued to shine with both bat and ball and even at the tender age of just 23 has already spent a total of 278 matches in top spot – a number only surpassed by Kapil Dev, Kallis and Shaun Pollock.

Unsuprisingly, the computer saw the year’s stand-out batting performance as the top-rated effort too. In February at Gwalior, Sachin Tendulkar achieved ODI cricket’s holy grail with a double century against South Africa. Coming from just 147 deliveries, his unbeaten 200 helped set up a 153-run victory. Next was Gautam Gambhir’s unbeaten 138 against New Zealand at Jaipur in December followed by his opening partner Sehwag’s lone hand of 110 against New Zealand at Dambulla in August, when India were all out for just 223. It was more than enough as New Zealand collapsed to just 118 in reply.

With the ball, it is a Bangladeshi in the number one position performance-wise. Abdur Razzak thoroughly enjoyed the one-day series late in the year against Bangladesh and his 4-14 in a complete ten-over spell at Mirpur came out on top. Australian Ryan Harris’s year ended in pain with a stress fracture of the ankle, but he had started on fire with 5-19 on a bouncy Perth track against Pakistan in January. Another Bangladeshi is in third place as Suhrawadi Shuvo’s figures of 3-14 in his ten overs against New Zealand at mirpur in October helped inflict another embarrassing defeat on the Kiwis.