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The good, the bad and the ugly who didn't win the CricInfo googler's Player of the Month in previous months:

December 1997:

Debbie Hockley: One of the great players in the modern history of womens cricket. The leading run-scorer in the second-best team in the 1997 World Cup. Scorer of two centuries in the tournament, passed 3000 career ODI runs, scorer in the final of the only six of the tournament, where she was player of the match. One can only speculate on what she may have achieved if New Zealand were placed in the same half of the draw as Pakistan or Denmark...

Lottie Edwards: We nominated Charlotte for this page in August when she was seventeen, now she is eighteen and everyone calls her Lottie. Described as one of the Spice Girls of English cricket, but whether this means that she, too, can't sing or dance is unclear. The highlight of her World Cup was her knock of 173 not out against Ireland. It broke the previous world record... trouble is, Belinda Clark was also breaking the world record (and the 200 barrier) at the very same time. Her long awaited first appearance against Australia produced a duck, but expect to hear a lot, lot more about Lottie in the future.

Apparently the boys played games in December as well...

Carl Hooper: Proved in December that it is possible to excel in both Test and one-day cricket at the same time.

Chris Harris: Proved in December that it is impossible to excel in both Test and one-day cricket at the same time.

Food of the month: The chicken. In particular, the whole, uneaten, cooked chicken that was thrown onto the SCG outfield in the general direction of Pat Symcox during an over-exuberant Mexican wave in the day-night international against Australia on December 4. The chook was the only edible item among the large amount of rubbish thrown onto the field. Symcox described this as the worst crowd disturbance he had ever seen. Pat, it's time you got out a bit more...

Weight-watcher of the month: Shane Warne. Not as bulky as when he made his Test debut against India in 1992, but never, in his playing days, as slender as the wax likeness of him on display in Melbourne this month. (Which makes the physical resemblance of the wax dummy to Victorian premier Jeff Kennett very spooky.. if not sickening.) One can only speculate on how Shane would have reacted if it was him, and not Symcox, when the cooked chook was thrown on the field...

Australian batsman of the month: Paul Reiffel. Arguably Australia's most consistent Test batsman this summer, followed up his two half-centuries in the New Zealand with a career-best 79 not out against South Africa in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG. Even before that innings, the Pepsi Coproration had adjudged him to be the tenth best Test batsman in the whole world. At year's end it appeared that he would be rewarded with a demotion to number 9 in the order in the new year's Test at Sydney.

Australian bowler of the month: Mark Waugh. Promising off-spinner who scores about as many runs as he takes wickets. Several years ago he was Essex's answer to Peter Such, and is finally starting to realise his true potential. Could be regarded by Australian fans as the next Ashley Mallett or the next Tim May, but Mark is a much-loved cricketing personality who belongs to the whole world, and should thus be looked upon as the new John Emburey, the new Dipak Patel, the new Aashish Kapoor*... all rolled into one!

Administrative body of the month: The BCCI. A truly exceptional month for the Board of Control for Cricket in India. Just a sample of their achievements in December 1997:

  • Having announced in October that one of next year's Australia-India Test matches was to be staged at Eden Gardens, Calcutta - the largest cricket stadium in the world and the most lucrative in India for gate receipts - they announced on December 13 that the Test has been relocated to Cuttack, and that Eden Gardens will stage an India-Zimbabwe ODI instead. Who said the BCCI were in it for the money?
  • On December 15 BCCI president Dungarpur announces that Bobby Simpson is to be appointed as a technical consultant to the Indian national team. Simpson, when contacted by the media, knew nothing of the announcment nor of the job he was supposedly taking. Reported reaction from BCCI secretary Lele - "We took the decision only yesterday, so how do you expect us to convey the news to Bob so soon?"
  • Earlier in the year Kapil Dev was appointed national Director of Grounds and Pitches. It was revealed during the month that the BCCI had not once responded to any feedback that he had forwarded to them. This revelation was made as a result of...
  • The Christmas day one-dayer against Sri Lanka at Indore, which set a new record for abandoned matches by having more scapegoats than there were deliveries bowled. Secretary Lele considered the decision to cancel the match hasty, after all nobody had been injured yet and they "could have waited for three more overs"...
  • At year's end everyone in the BCCI was rigorously denying veteran Mumbai journalist Rajan Bala's claims that Tendulkar had tendered his resignation as Indian captain to the Board. This one, I am sure, we can mark down to be continued...

* OK, I got a little carried away there. The only person who can become the new Aashish Kapoor is the old Aashish Kapoor.

November 1997:

Marvan Atapattu: One of modern cricket's great absurdities was shattered at the PCA ground, Mohali on November 20 as Atapattu (who started 1997 with a Test batting average of 0.1666667) scored his maiden Test century.

Phil Simmons: Recalled to the West Indies Test side for the First Test at Peshawar, after scoring 0 in his last Test innings (v Australia in February 1997) and 0 in his last Test innings before that (v New Zealand in May 1996). His form has improved since those days, to the level where he scored 1 in the first innings at Peshawar, and followed that in the second innings with another one (run that is). A sequence that his former team-mate Keith Arthurton would be proud of, and one that now seems to be a thing of Marvan Atapattu's past.

Carl Hooper: The West Indies' best player after they scraped into the final four of the Wills Quadrangular One-Day Series in Lahore. Hooper scored 68 and 105 in their first two games of the tournament, but more than that, he was his team's most successful and most economical bowler of the series, with figures of 8-0-31-1, 10-1-49-1 and 9-1-29-0. Sad really.

S.C.G.MacGill: His hat trick for New South Wales against New Zealand on November 2 drew attention to a bowler seen by some as Australia's number 2 spinner and a likely tourist to India in early 1998. A candidate to be another of the tradition of Test players named after famous grounds (following on from Lord Harris and Waca Younis).

The New Zealand team: It is hard to know where to begin with a touring team with such outstanding lack of success as the Kiwis touring Australia, but special mention must go to Daniel Vettori, for starting the month with a bad haircut and finishing the month with an even worse one.

Aravinda de Silva: Two more brilliant centuries from "Pads" in November, showing yet again his superiority over Mohammad Azharuddin in his ability to score centuries at any time except when it matters. A magnificent 102 not out in Sri Lanka's thrashing of Pakistan on November 5 was followed by two sparkling cameos of 6 and 24 as Lanka were annihilated (twice) by South Africa. Strike rates of 96.77 are fine when you can actually stay at the crease long enough to win important matches. On November 23 his 110 not out in the First Test against India at Mohali was his fourth century in five Test innings, and his seventh of the year. His match-winning value to the Sri Lankan Test effort can be shown in the following Test statistics for the 1997 calendar year to November 30:

Batting In:     T   Inn  NO  Runs  Aver    HS  100 50
Tests Won       0     0   0     0   ?       -    0 0
Tests Lost      3     6   0    56   9.33   47    0 0
Tests Drawn     7    11   3  1080 135.00  168    7 1

Number of the month: 99: The score that Lance Klusener made in South Africa's one-day final victory over Sri Lanka on November 8. Also Saurav Ganguly's score when dismissed in the Nagpur Test at 5.51am GMT on November 28, and Greg Blewett's score when he was dismissed at Hobart at 5.53am GMT on November 28.

Supplementary number: TWO: Like Atapattu and Simmons, Roger TWOse was an unlikely recall to the New Zealand team when his international career appeared to be all finished, especially as his last four Test innings had been TWO, zero, TWO and TWO. TWOse's first innings score on November 30 in his comeback Test? TWO. (Imagine Richie Benaud reading this aloud.)

October 1997:

Pat Symcox: Like all good off-spinners it was as a batsman that Pat attracted the most attention during the deciding Third Test at Faisalabad. In the first innings he came to the crease at number 9 with the score 98 for 7 and clubbed 81 from 94 balls with 10 fours and two sixes to help raise South Africa's innings total to 239. His second innings 55 scored as nightwatchman from a leisurely 120 deliveries (7 fours and one six) was the top score of the innings. Just as a reminder of the real reason he was chosen to represent his country, he took three wickets for eight runs in the thrilling conclusion to the match as Pakistan, chasing 146 for victory, were sent packing for 92. A near thing for October's Player of the Month title.

Azhar Mahmood and Ali Naqvi: Joint winners of this month's Leonard Baichan Medallion for Cricket Immortality, Azhar and Ali both scored Test debut centuries in Pakistan's first innings of the First Test against South Africa, thereby earning the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of those other great debutant centurions, such as the said Mr Baichan, Rodney Redmond, Billy Griffith, Dirk Wellham and Praveen Amre.

Adam Dale: His diving one-handed airborne outfield catch at the Gabba for Queensland on October 12 has the honour of being the first catch of the 1997-98 season to be described by Bill Lawry as "the best catch you'll ever see!". His attempted repeat effort at the same ground in a Sheffield Shield match five days later was even more spectacular in that he missed the ball by half a metre.

Flower of the Month: Andy. Man of the series in Zimbabwe's first-ever tournament victory at full international level, the Trust Bank Tri-Nations Presidents Cup, won against home team Kenya and that other fully international side Bangladesh. Andy contributed innings in this competition of 81, 72, 70, 66, 79 and 7, and shared in three century opening partnerships with September's Flower of the Month, Grant.

Number of the Month: 127. On October 25 Queensland defeated New Zealand by an innings and 127 runs. A day later, they defeated the Kiwis again in a one-dayer by 127 runs. One hundred and twenty-seven is also the score Mark Taylor made on October 15 to register his first first-class century on Australian soil for 23 months.

Note: The video of the Adam Dale catch is hosted by the Queensland Cricket web site. CricInfo is not responsible for the content or availability of external sites.

September 1997:

Disciplinary Committeeman of the Month: Inzamam ul-Haq.
This member of Pakistan's recently formed players' disciplinary committee produced some innovative ways for keeping his committee active at the Toronto Cricket Club on September 14. Unfortunately he was required to stand down from the committee which heard the charge against him, and who fined him the massive sum of $US1000. ICC officials had already exacted their own judgment by forcing Inzamam to miss two days' play for his actions. If only Rashid Patel, Raman Lamba, Eric Cantona and Mike Tyson had these disciplinary processes to answer to... Committeeman Inzamam is clearly a reformed man as his two 70+ innings in the three matches following his suspension have shown.

Batman of the Month: Mohammad Hussain.
In the days before the "Caped Crusader" when the sun never set on the British Empire, a batman was a soldier who acted as servant to a senior officer in the army. At Toronto on September 14 Mohammad Hussain performed the batman duties quite literally for Mr ul-Haq, as the latter entered the records books as the first international player to require the use of a bat whilst fielding.

Vegetable of the Month: The Potato.
What has this poor defenceless legume done to deserve so much adverse publicity during the month of September? Why did Shiv Kumar Thind use the poor spud's name in vain? Why did the media of bilingual Canada tag the whole sorry mess alternately Potatogate and l'Affaire Pomme de Terre? Is there a ready-made sponsorship deal awaiting Inzi if he ever takes up a coaching position in Ireland? Will we ever know the answers?

Flower of the Month: Grant.
In a year when an unusual number of instances of "centuries in each innings" have taken place, Grant Flower put Zimbabwe's name onto this list with scores of 104 and 151 at Harare against the mighty New Zealand bowling attack of Shayne O'Connor, Heath Davis, Daniel Vettori, Nathan Astle and the two Chrises, followed by a first innings in the Bulawayo Test of 83. However the record for the most runs in a single game by a Zimbabwean in September 1997 goes to...

Zimbabwean of the Month: Graeme Hick.
The man not good enough to be selected even once for England during the 1997 season finished the County year with Worcestershire by scoring 303 not out and 28 not out against Hampshire. Captain Tom Moody (see the good, the bad and the ugly for December 1996) declared with Hick only 102 runs short of his personal best (mind you, Tom himself was on 180 not out at the time)

Committed disciplinarian of the Month: Chris Cairns.
Like his father he normally uses his bat like every ball was a megaphone-wielding spectator. Cairns defended grittily for over four hours on the final day of the Harare Test to save the match for New Zealand. Seventy-one not out from 238 balls, seven fours and only one six. Surely one has a right to expect a triple-ton from Chris in that length of time!!

Shrubbery of the Month: Chris Cairns's hair. (as usual)

August 1997:

Aravinda De Silva: One of our favourite "nearly men" on these pages, he scored a century in every appearance at the Test crease in the series against India, giving him a world record six consecutive Test centuries on home soil - something not achieved by Sir Donald Bradman, or even Javed Miandad...

Mohammad Azharuddin: Our other main "nearly man" of this section, he scored a century in each of the Tests against Sri Lanka. It would be easy to applaud this as a magnificent comeback performance except that he has not actually missed a Test match so far in 1997.

Phil Tufnell: Thirteenth man for England five Tests in a row, meaning he gets sent home even before being given the opportunity to carry the drinks. Promoted to the starting lineup he took eleven wickets at The Oval and gave England a thrilling nineteen-run victory over Australia. Of course the England selectors saw no need for him earlier in the series... who won the Ashes again???

Nilesh Kulkarni: A fairytale start to his Test career when he had Atapattu caught behind from his very first delivery in Test cricket. Three days later, with Sri Lanka 952 for 6, he left the field with figures of 70-12-195-1, and was dropped for the Second Test.

Charlotte Edwards: Very few players in the women's game have star status yet.. hopefully this December's World Cup in India will change all that. Charlotte grabbed the attention when opening the batting for England in the one-day series against South Africa. In a rain-affected series, her century in her second ODI was the standout achievement, all the more remarkable because she is still 17 years of age.

and Roshan Mahanama: Just in case no one noticed, he scored 225 and shared in a world record Test partnership of 576 in the First Test.

This month's lucky numbers:
48: The number of runs by which Sri Lanka failed to reach 1000 in the First Test;
35: the number of runs by which Jayasuriya fell short of Lara's world record; and
1: the number of runs by which Jayasuriya fell short of his second Test double-century of the month, and by which he and Mahanama fell short of the world first-class partnership record.

Supplementary number 419: The number of deliveries Nilesh Kulkarni bowled in the First Test after taking his first and only wicket.

July 1997:

Matthew Elliott: Why did he play that shot to Darren Gough on 199? Already being dubbed the new Bill Lawry... as long as he stays away from the microphone when he retires...

Venkatesh Prasad: For producing the outstanding bowling performance of the Asia Cup, 4-17 in five overs against Pakistan. Unfortunately it, and the match, came to nothing as the tournament organisers faith in the July Sri Lankan climate manifested itself in bucketloads.

Alastair Brown: Apparently no longer wanted by England at one-day level, and totally unconsidered at Test level, he scored 203 in a Sunday League game for Surrey against Hampshire on July 20. Although he is the fourth person to have scored a double century at domestic one-day level (after Graeme Pollock, Alan Barrow and Alvin Kallicharran), none of the others have had to do so within the constraints of a forty-over limit.

Marcus Trescothick: The former England Under-19 international was a central figure in an extraordinary finish to Somerset Second XI's fixture against Warwickshire Second XI concluding July 18. Somerset lost the match by six runs... thing is, they were chasing 612 to win. Marcus scored 322 of those runs. Both his innings and Somerset's total of 605 are all-time records in the Second Eleven Championship.

Keith Arthurton: The Binary Man of last year's World Cup scored the first double century of his first-class career on July 10, running out of partners on exactly 200 not out playing for an MCC eleven against the Pakistan A tourists. Enough runs to last him 400 innings for the West Indies, if indeed the selectors ever want him back...

Mike Roseberry: The opening batsman for Durham suffered the ultimate indignity on July 16 in a County Championship game... flattened by a bouncer from Craig White!! Retiring from the field for 144 minutes with double vision, he returned to the crease only to be dismissed first ball.

Alfred Mynn: For achieving immortality by being rated the fourth greatest cricketer of all time by former Wisden editor John Woodcock, thereby overcoming the extreme handicaps of having been retired from the game for 150 years, having never played a Test match, one-day international, or faced a three-pronged spin attack at Gaddafi Stadium.

and the back half of a cow: A pantomime cow was accosted by security officials while grazing on the Headingley outfield at stumps on the second day of the Fourth Test. A person in the back half was knocked unconscious when rugby-tackled by officials, but recovered shortly after. The front half of the cow was not injured.

June 1997:

Mark Taylor: Australian Fairytale No.1 - Under immense pressure and increasing tabloid ridicule for his poor batting form on the tour, he came out in the second innings of the First Test at Edgbaston and scored a brave 129. Not sufficient to save Australia from a surprise first-up defeat in the series. Taylor is acknowledged as one of Australia's finest captains ever - his last eleven Tests have produced five wins... and five losses.

Glenn McGrath: Australian Fairytale No.2 - His bowling was part of Australia's problem in their huge loss at Edgbaston, but his first innings in the rain-ruined Second Test gave him that dream of doing something special in an Ashes Test at Lord's. And then some - his 8 for 38 being the best individual innings performance against England at the Lord's Ground.

Matthew Hayden: Australian Fairytale Not - Unwanted by Australia for the Ashes tour, as May turned to June he completed an extraordinary weekend for Hampshire against Warwickshire by scoring 472 in three innings, his 235 not out being the best of three consecutive centuries in the sequence. As the month progressed he scored two more county championship centuries and one in the Sunday League. The month finished with his chance to say "I told you so" in the Australians' tour match against his county. His response? two compact innings of 6 and 2 respectively.

Three Aging Off-Spinners of the Month:
1. Arshad Ayub: His enterpreneurial skills brought the Siyaram's Cup to the world, brief media attention to the city of Hyderabad, the non-appearance of selected Indian captain Tendulkar, and confusion as to what the whole tournament was really about.
2. Dipak Patel: Responsible for organising a New Zealand team to participate in Mr Ayub's said carnival. So unofficial was this team that the New Zealand Cricket Council not just disowned it, but insisted that it be referred to as the Dipak Patel XI. New Zealand's favourite ex-England-"B" off-spinner thereby earned a place in cricketing immortality for having a touring side named after him, an honour usually reserved for the likes of Sir Julian Cahn, the Maharajah of Patiala and Ginger Meggs.
3. John Emburey: Announced his retirement from first-class cricket during June at the age of 44. This retirement appears to have more finality than his previous retirements, but he is still playing one-day cricket for Northamptonshire so one can always hope. Possibly the departure of Ray Illingworth as England chairman made his chances of yet another Test recall seem less likely. In the last ten of his seventeen years as an England player, he appeared in 39 Tests and took 80 wickets at 45.44 runs apiece.

Team of the Month: It just has to be Glamorgan. Consider their five first-class matches over the period May 29 to June 28, in chronological order:

  • Made their highest score of all-time, 597 for 8, in defeating Durham by an innings;
  • Lost to Oxford University, the first county side to lose to a university in a first-class fixture for four years;
  • Trailed Middlesex by 38 runs on the first innings, and lost the match by an innings and seven runs. Yes, all out for 31 in the second knock!
  • Defeated Lancashire by bowling them all out for 51 in just 14 overs.
  • Defeated Sussex by an innings, dismissing them for 54 in the first innings and 67 in the second.
Horses get swabbed for more consistent form than this :-J.

May 1997:

Saeed Anwar: November's player of the month missed almost six months of international cricket due to illness, but returned with a vengeance during the Independence Cup. Against India on a hot Wednesday afternoon in Chennai he scored 194 runs to break the twelve year-old ODI world record of Vivian Richards. Controversy surrounded his use of a runner for a large part of the innings, but the record book is not one to take regard of innuendo (unless your name is Glen Chapple or Tom Moody - but that's another story).

Adam and Ben Hollioake: In the tradition of the Chappell brothers and the Waugh brothers come two more young Australian brothers whose fast scoring and all-rounder capabilities have suddenly grabbed the attention of the cricketing world. The difference is, they play for England...

Shivnarine Chanderpaul: West Indies' Mr Consistency followed his maiden Test century in April with a maiden ODI century on May 3 during the locals' clinical demolition of India in the Port-of-Spain one-dayer. However for Guyana he was anything but Mr Consistency, as his Red Stripe Cup season produced 186 runs at 26.57 with a top score of 60...

I.Grizzle: The Jamaican umpire who, along with his colleague Felix Whyte, refused to officiate at the second day of a schoolboy cricket final in Kingston, resulting in the abandonment of the game. They informed authorities that they had been abused by fans of one of the school teams. Representatives of the tournament did not turn up at the ground to resolve the problem, presumably because it was "Teacher's Day" in Kingston, and the match could not continue. Media reports do not indicate what the "I" in Umpire Grizzle's name stands for.

Mantra of the month: "I'm seeing the ball well, I'm getting better every day, I deserve to be in the team, the big score is just around the corner" - Mark Taylor. Every media interview, every press conference, every day.

Numbers of the month:
666: Representing the number of wickets by which England won each of the three Texaco Trophy matches against Australia; and the outcome of three consecutive deliveries from Kumble to Saeed Anwar during the latter's world record innings.
224: Pakistan's losing score in both of the Independence Cup finals.
128: The most runs scored in a one-day innings by a batsman while assisted by a runner when not physically injured.

April 1997:

Full international of the month: Aravinda De Silva.
A phenomenal April for Aravinda, he would have been a worthy winner of the month's award in his own right, his opportunities will no doubt come again and again. An extraordinary comeback to form by a player many had written off as finished. Following Test match scores of 3, 0, 1 and 5 against New Zealand last month, his one-day efforts against the Kiwis in late March produced 66 and 36. At Sharjah in the first fortnight of April he scored 60, 97, 134, 32 and 87 not out. As April concluded his two Test appearances at home against Pakistan produced 23, 168, 138* and 103*. Never write off a great batsman when he's down - critics of Mark Taylor and Mohammad Azharuddin take note.

Nation of the month: The People's Republic of Bangladesh.
Just as Sri Lanka's World Cup victory last year changed the balance of power in world cricket, Bangladesh's ascendancy to World Cup status is quite possibly the first step in another balance shift. A nation of over 120 million people, with large sports stadia ready for cricket and an extremely enthusiastic base of supporters and players, their impeccable performance in winning the ICC Trophy showing that the country's future in the game is extremely promising. Test status before the turn of the century? A possibility.

Runner-up nation of the month: Scotland.
Euphoria on April 10 as the Scottish Cricket Team (and I still can't say that phrase without a grin) won their dislocated local derby against Ireland and the third spot in the south-of-the-border 1999 World Cup. But after the tournament, it was back to earth, and back to work for most of the part-time superstars of Scottish cricket. Eight of the triumphant team couldn't get the time off work for their Monday clash with Leicestershire in the B&H Cup on April 28, and their county opponents knocked up the highest innings total in the cup's history as Scotland fell to a 178 run defeat.

Multi-national player of the month: Hansie Cronje.
Captain and key player for South Africa in their 4-3 series loss in the one-day series to Australia, ending April 13 with 69 runs off 63 deliveries. On April 29 he was man-of-the-match in his debut for Ireland, a historic and unprecedented victory over Middlesex in the Benson & Hedges Cup.

March 1997:

Chris Harris: Just two first-class innings in March for Canterbury say it all: 206 and 198. What they don't say is why the New Zealand selectors don't want him.

Navjot Sidhu: A Test match double century is not to be taken lightly, but Sidhu's 201 in the Port-of-Spain Test was one of the heavier ones.

Ian Healy: For two notable bat-waving efforts in March, his last-ball six at Port Elizabeth which earned Australia victory, and his post-dismissal salute at Centurion, which earned a two-match vacation.

Stephen Fleming: The New Zealand captain who declared with Bryan Young in sight of a Test triple hundred against Sri Lanka.

Ryan Campbell: They called this Western Australian opening batsman the new Jayasuriya, Australia's new hope as at the top of the order. National selection beckoned. Come the Sheffield Shield final against Queensland, his first-innings zero is followed by a second-innings duck. Qld won the Shield. Michael Di Venuto was chosen for the South African tour.

Heath Davis: Winner of the Bronze Zarawani for walking to the crease without a helmet in the Christchurch one-day international against England, and being hit in the head by Darren Gough.

and the Barmy Army of the Month award goes to the Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS) who organised a demonstration against the Israeli team before the start of their ICC Trophy match at the PKNS ground in Kuala Lumpur, only to find that Canada and the Netherlands were playing. But never let that stop a good protest, and they still forced the abandonment of the game.

February 1997:

Belinda Clark, Karen Rolton and Debbie Hockley: The three outstanding batters of this year's Rose Bowl series between the Australian and New Zealand women achieved almost identical aggregates (Clark of Australia 278, Rolton of Australia and Hockley of New Zealand 272 each) All made big scores, with Belinda Clark's 142 the highest of all.

Alex Tait: This Northern Districts medium-fast bowler had a whale of a February with the ball and was very close indeed to winning the major prize. His efforts:

Mario Villavarayan: The Sri Lankan Board of Control for Cricket (BCCSL) insists that Sara Trophy Division A matches are first-class, and so Mario's devastating 9 for 15 for Bloomfield against Police on February 17 will earn him a prestigious entry in the 1998 Wisden.

Curtly Ambrose: The Long Goodbye - Curtly's last Test match appearance on Australian soil, the Fifth Test at the WACA on February 3. So long, that he overstepped the mark to be no-balled nine times in his final over - his fifteen-ball over believed to be the longest over in Test cricket in modern times. Earlier, his final innings of the series ended in a run out when he got his bat stuck in a crack in the pitch trying to ground it behind the return crease.

Phil Simmons: The inaugural googler's Player of the Month finished January with two ducks in each of the Carlton and United one-day series finals. He started February with a nought at the WACA in the Fifth Test against Australia, and then followed that, for Trinidad against Jamaica, with a pair. Five ducks in a row - because they were scored in a mixture of first-class and limited-overs games the sequence doesn't count for the record books, so we'll highlight them here :-J.

and the Northern Districts Shell Trophy team: for having one of their bowlers take sixteen wickets in a match (v Auckland - see above), and then losing that match by getting all out for 32 in their second innings.

January 1997:

Ijaz Ahmed Senior: The most outstanding Ijaz Ahmed of the month in international cricket, well ahead of runner-up Ijaz Ahmed Junior. Senior (in the English school system they may well have been called Ijaz Major and Ijaz Minor) was the most consistent batsman for Pakistan in their Carlton & United Series victory over the West Indies and Australia, and must have been envious of Brian Lara riding his man-of-the-series motorbike around the MCG on January 20.

Anthony Stuart: For emerging from the obscurity of Sheffield Shield cricket to play for Australia in one-day internationals, taking a hat-trick against Pakistan, and then returning to interstate obscurity again.

Mohammad Azharuddin (again): He smashed 115 off 110 balls in the Cape Town Test on January 3, and his 222 partnership with Tendulkar was described by some witnesses as one of the most scintillating episodes they had seen in Tests. Unfortunately five-day Tests are decided on more than just scintillating episodes, and India lost the match by 282 runs.

Danny Morrison: Test cricket's most accomplished duckster of all time came to the crease before tea on the last day of the Auckland Test against England with defeat certain. He stayed around for the final 165 minutes, remaining on 14 not out, assisting Nathan Astle to his century, and giving England Yet Another One That Got Away.

Mike Hussey: On January 30 this Western Australian opening batsman played a lusty cover drive to a delivery from Scott Muller of Queensland. In the follow-through his bat flew out of his hands, high into the air, back over his head and onto his stumps. That was the greatest hit wicket you'll ever see!!!

and the entire Pakistan womens team: In a one-day international against the New Zealand women on January 28, they were dismissed for 56. NZ scored the winning runs in 8.1 overs for the loss of no wickets. Pakistan's bowling improved in the next ODI the following day inasmuch as they took five NZ wickets. They did, however, concede 455 runs in the space of fifty overs, and could only themselves manage 47 runs all out this time, to lose the game by a world record 408 runs. January was a very mixed month for Pakistani international teams...

The good, the bad and the ugly of 1996

Player of the month index

The opinions stated in this article are those of the editor, and the editor alone. No one else would come near them with a barge pole.

Date-stamped : 03 May1998 - 10:16