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Ricky Ponting star of ICC awards night

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`PIGEON' ARRIVES: Australian Glenn McGrath waves to the press on his arrival at the ICC awards function in Mumbai.
`PIGEON' ARRIVES: Australian Glenn McGrath waves to the press on his arrival at the ICC awards function in Mumbai.

Nandakumar Marar

Dravid is World Test team captain; Jayawardene chosen Captain of the Year

MUMBAI: International cricketing achievements and the achievers were in the spotlight at the Hyundai International Cricket Council Awards 2006.

Ricky Ponting symbolises excellence better than any player involved in the game today. He topped the awards list with two honours the ICC Player of the Year and ICC Test Player of the Year.

Australians dominated with Michael Hussey picking up the ODI Player of the Year, women's team captain Karen Rolton and umpire Simon Taufel being other award-winners.

Sachin presents award

Ponting was a proud man after being chosen `Player of the Year'. The attacking face of Australian cricket and a major influence on the way the world-beaters approach the game, received the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy from Sachin Tendulkar, another titan of the game.

Mahela Jayawardene was named `Captain of the Year' and presented the award by former Pakistan captain Imran Khan, whose description of captaincy as "ability to lead the team by example" fits the Sri Lankan.

The Australian captain talked about the high after the Ashes downer last year. "We had to show a lot of character after going home from England against the ICC World XI. The coaching staff looked for answers, the players had to deliver. I am happy with the way we managed to lift ourselves," said Ponting, delighted to have other team members like Hussey among the awardees and others in the nominees list.

Surprise

Jayawardene, on his part, expressed surprise at the honour after being chosen ahead of cricketing heavyweights Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid and Michael Vaughan.

"Getting nominated was a thrill, now this comes as a shock," said the Sri Lankan, displaying humility in one of the finest moments of his career. "I am just carrying on the work of (Marvan) Atapattu. This award means the team has done well," he said.

Jayawardene had no qualms about the thought of handing back the captain's armband to Atapattu in the near future.

"You are a captain when you put the cap on. Otherwise, you are just one of the players," he said, naming Arjuna Ranatunga as the best captain in his list. The bonus for Jayawardene came in the form of captaincy of the ICC ODI Team of the Year, leading a pack of performers including Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and Andrew Flintoff.

Dravid `honoured'

Dravid found himself named captain of the World Test Team of the Year, chosen from among the world's Test performers. "It is an honour and privilege to be chosen leader of such outstanding players. Captaincy would be easy, I just have to hand over the ball to the right person," said the Indian skipper, disappointed at having missed the chance to play the Champions Trophy 2006 final.

"I would have liked to experience the tension and pressure of a final, especially as the event is being played in India," remarked Dravid, now only a spectator as Australia takes on West Indies on Sunday at the Brabourne stadium.

Indian sensations Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Irfan Pathan have been included in the 12-member ODI squad for performances over a longer duration.

Incredible achiever

An incredible achiever called on stage to receive his award on Friday night was 31-year-old Hussey, who spent a long time in the apprentice list before making the Australian squad.

"I would have liked to get the opportunity a little bit earlier," said the Aussie batsmen with an astonishing strike-rate in contemporary cricket. "One thing was sure, I did not take anything for granted, gave everything in each match. I appreciate the opportunity of playing in this group of players," he said.

The event is held in association with Federation of International Cricketers Association and organised by the ICC. The legendary Sunil Gavaskar was chairman of the selection panel which short-listed the teams of the year, other members on the panel being Ian Healy, Allan Donald, Arjuna Ranatunga and Waqar Younis.

ICC World Test team: Rahul Dravid (Capt.), Matthew Hayden, Michael Hussey, Ricky Ponting, Mohammed Yousuf, Kumar Sangakkara (wicketkeeper), Andrew Flintoff, Shane Warne, Makhaya Ntini, Muttiah Muralitharan, Glenn McGrath; Twelfth man: Brett Lee.

ICC World ODI team: Mahela Jayawardene (Capt.), Adam Gilchrist (wk), M.S. Dhoni, Ricky Ponting, Yuvraj Singh, Michael Hussey, Andrew Flintoff, Irfan Pathan, Brett Lee, Shane Bond, Muttiah Muralitharan; Twelfth man: Andrew Symonds.

The awards list:ICC Player of the Year: Ricky Ponting; Test Player of the Year: Ricky Ponting; ODI Player of the Year: Michael Hussey; Woman Player of the Year: Karen Rolton; Emerging Player of the Year: Ian Bell; Captain of the Year: Mahela Jayawardene; Spirit of Cricket: England; Umpire of the Year: Simon Taufel.

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