| Mahela Jayawardene
Mumbai: Rahul Dravid got the Test Team of the Year captaincy and three Indians made the ODI XI. Where awards go, though, we drew a blank in edition No. 3 of the annual International Cricket Council (ICC) presentations.
Last year, too, no Indian took home anything when the awards were held in the lead-up to the inaugural Super Test in Sydney.
Yet again, it’s a reflection of the times and Dravid acknowledged that better performances would ensure “more nominations” and, consequently, the chance of bagging an award or two. Nothing carries more meaning than being adjudged the best by the sport’s governing body.
Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene, in fact, was the lone Asian to pocket something — a big award, actually — on an evening dominated by the Australians. Jayawardene, who arrived on Friday morning itself (with wife Christina), beat top guns Ricky Ponting, Dravid and Michael Vaughan to be named Captain of the Year.
“I don’t know how I’m going to celebrate... It must first sink in,” Jayawardene told The Telegraph at the Taj Lands End, venue of the star-spangled ceremony which had more than a dash of Bollywood. The utterly chic Preity Zinta, for example, handed over a Hyundai Sonata’s key to Ponting — a bonus for becoming the Player of the Year.
If the Zintas evoked awe, “shock” featured in the speeches of many of the award winners. The ODI Player of the Year, Michael Hussey (who edged out Yuvraj Singh), fell in that bracket.
Earlier, interacting with the Media, even Jayawardene had confessed: “I’m in shock... That’s why I’ve just had a glass of water...” An admirer of the World Cup-winning Arjuna Ranatunga, he insisted that a captain was “only as good” as the team at his disposal.
Jayawardene, by the way, was also chosen captain of the ODI Team of the Year. The XI includes Ponting, who didn’t get the Test captaincy either.
“I don’t know how the captains got selected... You’ve got to ask some questions... Probably my on-field misdemeanours didn’t help... But I’ve got two awards, when I wasn’t expecting two, and I’m quite happy... It has been a great night for Australian players,” Ponting remarked, obviously disappointed at not being recognised as a leader.
Ponting revealed he’d expected teammate Shane Warne to be chosen the Test Player of the Year. “Warnie took 96 wickets in the period... It’s (somewhat of ) a shock that I got it...”
Dravid, who ‘scored’ over Ponting on the captaincy-scale, said: “Just being nominated is great, but I’ve got the captaincy (of the Test XI)... It’s a huge privilege and it would be easy captaining the team... I would only have to throw the ball at somebody for wickets to be taken...”
Regretting India’s early exit from the Champions Trophy, Dravid added: “I don’t have the nervousness and tension of playing a final two days from now... It’s disappointing...”
Umpire Simon Taufel, meanwhile, authored a memorable hattrick. Such consistency seems unbelievable at a time when we have to contend with somebody like Darrell Hair.