Virender Sehwag called Gautam Gambhir “the new wall” of Indian cricket when he saved the Napier Test match against New Zealand earlier this year with a 10-and-a-half hour marathon effort. On Thursday, Gambhir became the second Indian after Rahul Dravid to win the ICC’s Test Player of the Year award.
After a disappointing early exit from the Champions Trophy it was a champion evening at the ICC awards for India. Mahendra Singh Dhoni was named captain of both the Test and ODI composite teams of the year and also the ODI Player of the Year.
Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh joined Dhoni in the one-day XI, Gambhir and master batsman Sachin Tendulkar were named in the Test XI.
On an evening that was dubbed a celebration of cricket Australia's Mitchell Johnson won the biggest prize, the ICC player of the year.
"It's been a wonderful 12 months for me, but I am very shocked, surprised and privileged to win this," said Johnson after receiving his award on Thursday night from ICC president David Morgan.
Dhoni was conspicuous by his absence, having already left for home after India’s exit from the Champions Trophy campaign, but his team was well represented as Rahul Dravid presented the Emerging Player Award to Peter Siddle. Yuvraj stepped in to receive Dhoni’s cap as skipper of the one-day team and Gambhir was at hand to collect his award.
"As wonderful as the last 12 months have been for me personally, what gives me the greatest joy is that I have been able to contribute to the team's cause," said Gambhir. "If I had to pick one special knock, it would have to be my ten and a half-hour hundred in the Napier Test which helped us draw the match and win our first Test series in New Zealand."
For the first time since the awards were introduced in 2004, Simon Taufel wasn't named the Umpire of the Year, that honour going to Pakistani Aleem Dar.
The list of awardees (performances from Aug 2008 to Aug 2009):
Emerging Player of the Year: Peter Siddle (Australia, 49 wickets in 12 Tests @ 28.93).
Spirit of Cricket of the Year: New Zealand.
Associate Player of the Year: William Porterfield (Ireland).
T20 International Performance of the Year: Tillakaratne Dilshan (Sri Lanka, 96 n.o. in 57 balls vs West Indies at World T20).
Umpire of the Year: Aleem Dar (Pakistan).
ODI Player of the Year: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (India, 967 runs in 24 matches @ 60.43, 18 catches and eight stumpings).
Test Player of the Year: Gautam Gambhir (India, 1269 runs in eight matches @ 84.60).
Women's Cricketer of the Year: Claire Taylor (England, 565 runs in 18 ODIs @ 70.62, 230 runs in six T20s @ 115).
Cricketer of the Year: Mitchell Johnson (Australia, 632 runs @ 30.09 and 80 wickets in 17 Tests, 28 wickets @24.25 in 16 ODIs).
Hall of Fame inductees: Herbert Sutcliffe (Eng), Victor Trumper (Aus), Clarrie Grimmett (Aus), Steve Waugh (Aus), Wasim Akram (Pak).
ODI Team of the Year: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Virender Sehwag, Chris Gayle, Kevin Pietersen, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Yuvraj Singh, Martin Guptill, Andrew Flintoff, Nuwan Kulasekara, Ajantha Mendis, Umar Gul. 12th man: Thilan Thushara.
Test Team of the Year: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Gautam Gambhir, Andrew Strauss, AB de Villiers, Sachin Tendulkar, Thilan Samaraweera, Michael Clarke, Shakib al Hasan, Mitchell Johnson, Stuart Broad, Dale Steyn. 12th man: Harbhajan Singh.