It’s that time of the year when the International Cricket Council, taking in the opinion of former players and representatives from the media, announces the best players across formats for the season.

The period in question, between August 2012 and 2013, saw some excellent performances including back-to-back double centuries by Australia captain Michael Clarke in Tests against South Africa, an incredible seven five-wicket hauls by India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in Tests and nearly a 1,000 ODI runs by Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara.

These performances, along with others, were taken into account while finalising the candidates for the Cricketer of the Year, Test and ODI Player of the Year awards.

The focus, however, will be on the Cricketer of the Year award with South Africa batsman Hashim Amla, English pacer James Anderson, Clarke, England skipper Alastair Cook, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Sangakkara in the race.

Before we go ahead, we must explain to all Virat Kohli fans that the reason he wasn’t included in any of the categories was because he churned out the big runs – 61, 100*, 68, 115*, 0, 86, 99, 19 – in one-dayers after the cut-off dates for the awards. So he will have to wait until next year and hope for the best.

Amla has amassed runs in Tests and one-dayers and is one of the main reasons why South Africa are the No1 Test side in the world.

But while he has scored the runs, Anderson has masterminded two major series wins for England – in India and the Ashes at home. His swing bowling has gone to a new level and it would be tough to keep him out of the mix.

Cook has led from the front for England in Tests, scoring series defining tons in India while Sanga has chugged along without any hiccup.

But one player who stands out among the bunch is Dhoni. He had the toughest challenge of them all during the period that is being considered – leading a team discarding its last ‘great’ players and putting faith in untested youngsters.

After losing to England at home in the Tests, 2013 has seen Dhoni improve every passing day. He has scored 700 runs in 10 Tests and 450 runs in 15 ODIs – not great returns but extremely valuable if one looks at the circumstances in which they were made.

And on top of that, his leadership has been exemplary, first ensuring that non-performing players like Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Harbhajan Singh are shown the door and youngsters like Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Mohammad Shami are given the backing.

And the results have followed. India blanked Australia 4-0 in Tests, won an away ODI tri-series in the West Indies, where he hit the winning six in the final in a close encounter against Sri Lanka, and most importantly, won the Champions Trophy in England.

The other contenders have performed well individually, but Dhoni has done all that and led the team excellently.

Cook and Clarke seem to have managed equally well on that front but Dhoni has excelled across formats and that’s why, in my opinion, he deserves to be the Player of the Year.


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