London – International cricket is set for a future of “colonial-style divide and rule”, and will be “holding its breath” over the extent of Indian influence, according to the 2014 edition of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack published on Wednesday.
In February, changes to the governance of the International Cricket Council (ICC), handed the majority of the powers and revenue to the sport’s “big three” nations — India, Australia and England.
“Here was colonial-style divide and rule,” the English editor of cricket’s “bible”, Lawrence Booth, wrote in the 151st edition of British-based Wisden, published every year since 1864.
“Cricket is appallingly administered, and is vulnerable to economic exploitation by the country (India) powerful enough to exploit it and the two countries (Australia and England) prepared to lend their plans credibility.”
“As India prepare to take their ‘central leadership responsibility’, international cricket holds its breath.”
Turning to events on the field, Booth said England’s 5-0 thrashing by Australia in the 2013-14 Ashes represented a low.
“No sporting defeat is a disaster but 5-0 against a team that had won none of its previous nine Tests came close. This, then, was the worst result in England’s history.”
Meanwhile, South Africa fast bowler Dale Steyn was chosen as Wisden’s Leading Cricketer in the World for 2013, a year in which he took 51 Test wickets in only nine games at an average of 17.
“Fast, penetrative and parsimonious, it was some combination,” Wisden said.
The Five Cricketers of the Year, an honour dating back to 1889, were India’s Shikhar Dhawan, Australia duo Chris Rogers and Ryan Harris, England batsman Joe Root and England women’s captain Charlotte Edwards.
Opening batsman Dhawan was acknowledged for his role in India’s victorious Champions Trophy campaign in England while opener Rogers, fast bowler Harris and Root were chosen for their contributions to the 2013 Ashes.
The Cricketer of the Year, the personal choice of the Wisden editor and an award that generally reflects performances in the previous English season, can, by tradition, only be won once in a player’s career.
Edwards, who led her side to defeat by Australia in the final of the recent World Twenty20, became only the second female cricketer, after England's Claire Taylor in 2009, to be named a Wisden Cricketer of the Year.
“In winning the Ashes home and away, Charlotte Edwards crowned an outstanding career as an England cricketer,” said Wisden.
“After making her Test debut at 16, she remains at the top 18 years later.”
But that still leaves her six years short of the 24-year international career enjoyed by Sachin Tendulkar, whose image adorns the cover of the latest Wisden.
The 40-year-old India great announced his retirement from cricket in November, ending a remarkable career during which he became the world’s leading scorer in both Test and one-day cricket.
“Tendulkar played Test matches in front of the most demanding fans in the world for 24 years,” said Wisden, who compared his record with those of England captain Alastair Cook and Australia skipper Michael Clarke.
“If further proof was required of just how astonishing that was, it came at Perth in December, when for a few moments one Cook and one Clarke added up to exactly one Tendulkar: 200 Test caps, 15 921 runs and 51 hundreds.” – Sapa-AFP