Zaheer chosen as one of Wisden's five

Published: Wednesday, April 9, 2008, 17:37 [IST]
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London: South Africa all-rounder Jacques Kallis was on Wednesday named as the 'Leading Cricketer in the World for 2007' by the 2008 edition of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, cricket's major annual reference work.

He became the fifth recipient of the award, introduced in 2004, after Australia's Ricky Ponting and Shane Warne, Andrew Flintoff of England and, last year, Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka.

The talented batsman and pace bowler won the award for his 1,210 Test runs at a staggering average of 86.42 and 20 wickets at an economical average of 25.75 apiece.

In a separate award, West Indies batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul and India quick Zaheer Khan were named as two of Wisden's 'Five Cricketers of the Year'.

The award, which dates back to 1889, is one of the oldest in the sport and can only be won once by a player during the course of his career.

England duo Ian Bell and Ryan Sidebottom were also among the 'Five' as was former West Indies seamer Ottis (eds: correct spell) Gibson, honoured for his performances with English county Durham.

In a return to tradition, all five men were chosen for the influence they'd had on the preceding English season.

Left-handed batsman Chanderpaul, 33, has often been all that has stood between the West Indies and the total collapse of their innings.

Despite playing much of his career in a week side, has a high Test average of just under 48.

In 2007 he scored 446 runs in three Tests against England in a series where, as former West Indies fast bowler Ian Bishop wrote, "that no other West Indian managed a score of more than 60 in the Tests speaks of the yawning gap between his skill, commitment and experience - and theirs".

Khan, who honed his talents playing county cricket for Worcestershire, was selected after taking 18 wickets in three Tests during India's 1-0 series win over England including nine during their decisive victory at Trent Bridge.

Sidebottom, another left-arm pace bowler, took his first Test wickets in 2007, six years after making his England debut, and added a re-assuring element of reliability to what had been a wayward attack.

Meanwhile Bell, one of England's most gifted batsman, was included after a year where he at last looked comfortable at international level.

'The Five Cricketers of the Year' is not an award exclusive to international players and has often included someone who has had a major impact on the English county game.

Hence the inclusion of the Barbados-born Gibson, the last of whose two Tests for the West Indies was back in 1999.

In his final season the pace bowler, now the England team's bowling coach, took 80 wickets for Durham.

And in July, at the age of 38, he took 10 for 47 as Hampshire were dismissed for 115 with Gibson becoming the 79th player to take all 10 wickets in a first-class innings.

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