Samuels’ knock voted world’s best

Marlon Samuels during the ICC T20 Final.
Marlon Samuels during the ICC T20 Final.

West Indies batsman Marlon Samuels’ match-winning 78 in the ICC’s World Twenty20 Final in Sri Lanka last year has been voted the best T20 innings for 2013 in the sixth annual ESPNcricinfo Awards, announced today.

Samuels’ innings was not only remarkable because it rescued the West Indies from a desperate situation, but it also came in an encounter where 13 batsmen made single-digit scores. Sri Lankan Lasith Malinga’s 5 for 31 against England earlier in the same tournament was judged the best T20 bowling performance in 2012.

England batsman Kevin Pietersen’s 186 against India in the Mumbai Test was voted the top Test batting performance of 2012 while Vernon Philander took the Test bowling award for his five-for against England at Lord’s.

Pietersen’s innings was instrumental in England turning the Test series around after their loss in the first match; they went on to win the series 2-1, their first series win in India in nearly 30 years. Philander’s 5 for 30 was his fifth five-wicket haul in the first ten Test matches of an extraordinarily prolific career.

Geoff Boycott, one of the judges, said: “It was the importance of the occasion that made his performance special. The No. 1 and 2 teams were playing, he picked the top batsmen first up and grabbed the initiative. It put England on the back foot right away.”

The One-Day batting award went to Virat Kohli for his unbeaten 133 in India’s chase of 320 against Sri Lanka in the CB Series. The innings was an 86-ball blitzkrieg that kept India alive in the CB Series when they achieved a target of 321 in under 37 overs.

The ODI bowling award was taken by Thisara Perera for his 6 for 44 against Pakistan in Pallekele, in which he took wickets with the first balls of three spells, leading Sri Lanka to a 76-run win.

14-member panel

The awards were decided by a 14-member jury that included former players Rahul Dravid, Ian Chappell, Ramiz Raja, Geoff Boycott, Sanjay Manjrekar and Russel Arnold, and ESPNcricinfo’s senior writers, who all picked their top three performances in each category from shortlists of nominees.

Saeed Ajmal, who became the first player in the history of the awards to be nominated in all three bowling categories, did not win an award, though he swept the readers’ choice category.

Save for Malinga, who won the ODI bowling award in the inaugural year of the ESPNcricinfo Awards, in 2008, the other winners are all first-timers. In the six-year history of the awards, Virender Sehwag, Lasith Malinga, Umar Gul and Dale Steyn have each won two awards; Sachin Tendulkar tops the table with three wins.

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