London: Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara has been chosen as both one of the 'Five Cricketers of the Year' and the 'Leading Cricketer in the World' for 2011 in the 2012 edition of the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, it was announced on Wednesday. The 34-year-old Sangakkara, one of the outstanding batsmen of his generation and for much of his career a top-class wicketkeeper as well, became the first man to receive both the awards since the Wisden, 'cricket's bible', started naming a leading cricketer of the year in 2004.
In 2011, no one else came close to the 2,267 runs Sangakkara scored in all international cricket, and he is now the only man to have topped 1,000 runs in Tests and one-day internationals in a single year on three separate occasions. The left-hander also captained Sri Lanka to the World Cup final last year, where they were beaten by co-hosts India in Mumbai.
Off the field, he also received worldwide praise for giving a deeply heartfelt MCC Cowdrey Lecture at Lord's, which caused shockwaves in his homeland when he called for the end of political interference in Sri Lankan cricket.
Sangakkara's career Test record of over 9,000 runs in 108 matches with 28 hundreds at an average of nearly 55 stands comparison with all but a handful of cricket's greatest batsmen.
Wisden, published every year since 1864, is widely regarded as cricket's leading reference work. The 'Five Cricketers of the Year', chosen solely by the editor of Wisden, is an award that dates back to 1889.
Among the other four recipients for their performances in 2011 were the England Test duo of run-hungry opener Alastair Cook, who made 294 against India at Edgbaston, and pace bowling all-rounder Tim Bresnan, yet to be on the losing side in a Test match. Lancashire captain Glen Chapple was also honoured after leading the Old Trafford-based club to their first outright County Championship title in 77 years, as was fellow seamer Alan Richardson, who took 73 First Division wickets to help Worcestershire avoid relegation.
No one can be chosen as one of the 'Cricketers of the Year', based primarily on a player's influence upon the previous English season, more than once.