Wisden slams ECB, hails Sangakkara

Published: Wednesday 8th April 2015 by The News Editor

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English cricket receives stinging criticism, and Sri Lanka great Kumar Sangakkara the highest of praise, in the 2015 Wisden.

Editor Lawrence Booth reserves withering words to depict the England and Wales Cricket Board’s “mishandling of the Kevin Pietersen affair”.

Contrasting accolades are accorded to the increasingly prolific Sangakkara as Wisden’s Leading Cricketer in the World – in the 152nd edition, published on Thursday – making him just the second player to regain that annual status.

Sangakkara, set to complete his international retirement when he plays his final Test this year, has raised even his own wonderful standards in a record-breaking run of form.

Wisden grants its global number one position for the previous year to Sangakkara – only India batsman Virender Sehwag has previously been named twice – after he made an all-time record 2,868 international runs in 2014, including a triple-century.

Breaking new ground in 2015 by announcing its first Leading Woman Cricketer in the World – Australia’s Meg Lanning – Wisden also notes Sangakkara’s man-of-the-match performance as Sri Lanka beat India in last year’s ICC World Twenty20 final, and four successive hundreds at the recently-concluded World Cup.

Sangakkara also had a significant impact on the last English season, with his first Test hundred at Lord’s.

Wisden takes that credential most into account in naming its five Cricketers of the Year – and along with rising England stars Moeen Ali, whose picture also adorns this year’s front cover, and Gary Ballance and county success stories Adam Lyth and Jeetan Patel, Sangakkara’s Test and one-day international captain Angelo Mathews takes the coveted honour.

In an appreciation of veteran Sangakkara, Booth said: “Choosing [him] just felt natural. And his four consecutive hundreds at the World Cup confirmed we’d chosen the right man.

“We’ll miss him when he’s gone.”

Rob Smyth writes in Wisden of Sangakkara’s “year of fulfilment – one which ensured, in sporting terms, he could die happy”.

He adds: “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s about to go, and this was the year in which Sangakkara was finally recognised as one of the all-time greats.”

Lanning, who at 21 became the youngest person ever to captain Australia, led her country to the World Twenty20 title and finished 2014 at the top of both the women’s Twenty20 and ODI batting rankings.

Her status as Wisden’s inaugural number one player headlines an expanded women’s section which contains reports of every international match played last year.

Elsewhere in the almanack’s 1,520 pages, the editor and other contributors turn their attention to the many topics prevalent in their sport.

Booth is scathing in his assessment of much in the ECB’s policies, tracing a year in which it lost touch “with the basic idea that the national team belongs to us all”.

He adds to his critique alarm at the decline in the population of those playing recreational cricket.

“A few wins might have deflected attention from a charge sheet that would include the mishandling of the Kevin Pietersen affair, worrying Test attendances outside London, a head-in-the-sand attitude to the one-day team, and – not yet a decade after the 2005 Ashes had presented English cricket with a golden chance to attract a new generation to the sport – a fall in the number of recreational players.

“National selector James Whitaker had called Cook ‘our exceptional leader’; Paul Downton, the ECB’s new managing director, hailed [Peter] Moores as the ‘outstanding coach of his generation’; chairman Giles Clarke trumpeted Downton as a ‘man of great judgment’. It was a nexus of self-preservation – yet, as the wagons circled, the wheels kept threatening to come off.”

:: Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack 2015 is published by John Wisden & Co, priced £50

Published: Wednesday 8th April 2015 by The News Editor

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