Kev Goughy | 1:47pm gmt 14 Feb 2008
Comeback Player of the Year
At the end of January 2008, Cricinfo announced their "Cricinfo Awards" for 2007. They recognised batting and bowling excellence in Test, One Day and T20 cricket.
The winners were all worthy of their titles. However, one area of cricket that was not recognised was the ability to bounce back from adversity and show determination and fortitude.
To address this and reward such players, here is the Cricket Web Comeback Player of the Year Award.
2008 is well under way and there is enough distance to be able to view the events of 2007 with clarity and perspective.
The "Comeback player of the Year" is an award for a player that through injury, loss of form or other reasons fell from the limelight only to return to prominence with a bang in 2007.
The award isn't necessarily for the best player in the World but for those that made an impact in 2007 after less than stellar performances the previous year or more. The players highlighted below all made comebacks in a different but equally admirable fashion.
Johnson last played for his native New South Wales in 2000 before leaving to ply his trade in the then relative cricketing backwater of Ireland. 2007 was to see an explosion in Irish cricket and unprecedented success under his leadership. On a personal level it may not have been the most statistically impressive of years but Johnson led a team of unknowns to the dismantling of Canada in the Inter-Continental Cup Final and an improbable and uplifting run in the ICC World Cup. Victories over Pakistan and Bangladesh, as well as a tie against Zimbabwe, led the Irish and their fans to being the toast of the event. Not many people get a chance in their early 30s to make an impact when they thought that opportunity had long since gone. Johnson did just that in 2007 and earned himself a book deal to boot.
In the cut-throat World of top flight International cricket, with its obsession with youth and the future, second chances seldom come. Just ask the large number of players who have flirted with short term selection and then been cast aside. Sidebottom debuted for England in 2001 and played only one Test match. It looked to all intents and purposes that his ship had sailed. Not deterred by seemingly being outside of the Selectors thoughts, Sidebottom consistently performed over the years in the daily grind of the County Championship. When the seemingly unlikely opportunity presented itself in May 2007 to once again play for England, Sidebottom made contributions and has been part of the England set-up since. In the 6 years between his solitary Test and his recall an amazing 31 players made their Test debut for England. Sidebottom is included here as a reward for perseverance and dedicated professionalism.
After 2006 Tendulkar was considered by many to be a spent force in Test cricket. He appeared to be on an irreversible downwards slide signaling that the end was in sight for his long and illustrious career. 2006 saw him average less than 25 with the bat with only 1 fifty. Then boom! 2007 rolls around and the cobwebs are cast off and the old Sachin returns to average well over 50 with the bat in Test match cricket. Tendulkar continued to build on this form into early 2008 and caused embarrassment to his critics who thought him finished. With only limited time left in his career, Tendulkar is scoring runs with the hunger of his youth and appears to be building upon his already substantial legacy. Tendulkar is only denied winning this trophy due to his relative consistent ODI performance.
Love him or hate him, arrogant or misunderstood, one thing is definite and that is in 2007 Ganguly showed the World that he was back and could bat. Early in 2006 he was jettisoned from the Indian team. A supposed decline in production combined with a personality clash and power struggle with Greg Chappell left Ganguly excluded from both the One Day and Test teams. He had much hyped technical issues and he wasn't just dropped but dumped. To many his career was all but over at the highest level. After much internal discussion within the Indian cricket hierarchy and high profile public support, Ganguly was recalled and immediately rewarded the faith of his supporters. He finished 2007 as the 2nd highest run scorer in Tests and the 5th highest run scorer in One Day Internationals.
Congratulations to Sourav Ganguly for earning CricketWeb's Comeback Player of the Year award. It is ironic that at the start of 2008 Ganguly has once again been dropped from the Indian One Day International team. However, given his remarkable comeback in 2007 it would be unwise to write him off.