Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Compton-Miller Award

It's been great, even at a distance, to see the sheer joy and elation of England's cricket fans in relation to their triumph in the Ashes. It was a thoroughly deserved win - England were the better team throughout the series. Maybe it was the best Test series of all time, gripping from start to finish. While the NHS may have to cope with a surge in blood pressure problems, my goodness it was worth it. What entertainment!

Two of the biggest entertainers, of course, were Andrew Flintoff and Shane Warne. Flintoff proved himself to be one of that very rare breed - the all-rounder worthy of being picked for both batting and bowling alone. Jacques Kallis is near him on that front, but even players like Wasim Akram would struggle to be included in a side for batting merit alone. That Flintoff is such a team player (unlike Kallis), and his enjoyment of the game is abundantly obvious for all to see makes his a joy to watch - he is rightly England's favourite cricketer.

Despite all that, however, in my humble opinion he should not have been given the award for overall best player in the series. That accolade belongs, in my mind, to Shane Warne. I've long said matches between England and Australia would be more even if Glenn McGrath or Warne switched sides. Whilst the pace attack may have been leaderless without McGrath, Warne was the heartbeat of the Australian side. Indeed, take away his 40 wickets (a colossal total in a 5-match series) and the series wouldn't have been remotely close. For all Flintoff's crucial contributions, he at least had a supporting cast. Warne carried Australia virtually single-handedly, and it was nearly good enough to save the Ashes.

That's class for you. His performance was the show of a true competitor. And whilst the emotions tell me to laud Flintoff above all others, the sportsman in me has to hand it to Warnie.