Wisden lauds Kumar Sangakkara and Meg Lanning
LONDON: Sri Lanka great Kumar Sangakkara has been named as the Leading Cricketer in the World in the 2015 Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack.
Meanwhile Australia’s Meg Lanning has been chosen as the cricket ‘bible’s’ inaugural Leading Woman Cricketer in the World — the first time the England-based annual has bestowed such an award in 152 editions of continuous publication dating back to 1864.
But editor Lawrence Booth was stinging in his criticism of the England and Wales Cricket Board for their “mishandling” of the Kevin Pietersen affair that saw the star batsman axed from the England set-up.
Sangakkara joined India’s Virender Sehwag as the only two players to be named as Wisden’s Leading Cricketer in the World for a second occasion.
The 37-year-old left-handed batsman and wicketkeeper won the award after a stellar 2014 that saw Sangakkara score an all-time record 2,868 international runs in the calendar year, including a triple century.
His feats, which added to an already brilliant career, included a man-of-the-match performance in Sri Lanka’s World Twenty20 final win over India last year.
Sangakkara also scored his first Test hundred at Lord’s last season, a century which came during Sri Lanka’s Test series win over England.
He later confirmed Wisden’s judgment by scoring a record four successive hundreds at the recent World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
In a tribute to Sangakkara, set to retire from all international cricket later this year, Booth said: “Choosing (him) just felt natural. And his four consecutive hundreds at the World Cup confirmed we’d chosen the right man.
“We’ll miss him when he’s gone.”
Lanning, who at the age of 21 became the youngest person ever to captain Australia, led her side to the World Twenty20 title and finished 2014 at the top of both the women’s one-day international and Twenty20 batting rankings.
Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year is an award dating back to 1889 and is generally based on a player’s performances in the preceding English season.
By tradition, it can only be won once in a career and the 2015 list included Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews, England rising stars Moeen Ali and Gary Ballance and two notable county players in Adam Lyth and Jeetan Patel.
Booth’s critique of the ECB was broad and scathing, the Wisden editor writing: “A few wins might have deflected attention from a charge sheet that would include the mishandling of the Kevin Pietersen affair, worrying Test attendances outside London, a head-in-the-sand attitude to the one-day team, and — not yet a decade after the 2005 Ashes had presented English cricket with a golden chance to attract a new generation to the sport — a fall in the number of recreational players.
“National selector James Whitaker had called (Alastair) Cook ‘our exceptional leader’; Paul Downton, the ECB’s new managing director, hailed [Peter] Moores as the ‘outstanding coach of his generation’; chairman Giles Clarke trumpeted Downton as a ‘man of great judgment’. It was a nexus of self-preservation — yet, as the wagons circled, the wheels kept threatening to come off.”