Ajantha Mendis wins ICC Emerging Player of the Year 2008

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Dubai, Sep 10 (UNI) Sri Lanka's new find Ajantha Mendis has won the Emerging Player of the Year award at the LG ICC Awards ceremony in Dubai.

The mystery spinner has exploded on to the international scene and taken the world by storm with his mesmerising brand of spin bowling.

In just three Tests, the 23-year-old has taken an amazing 26 wickets at an average of 18.38 sending shockwaves through the world of cricket, ICC announced.

And it wasn't just Tests. During the voting period, Mendis played eight ODIs for Sri Lanka and in the process bagged 20 wickets at an average of just 10.25, making him the stand-out newcomer to top-flight cricket.

Mendis was the top choice of the 25-person Voting Academy, coming in ahead of England's up-and-coming Stuart Broad, South Africa fast bowler Morne Morkel and the talented Ishant Sharma of India.

Interestingly, all four players in this category's short-list were bowlers.

Accepting his award in Dubai from his Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardena, Mendis said ''I am delighted to win the award. It is an honour to play for Sri Lanka and I hope to continue playing for my country for a long time to come.'' The Emerging Player of the Year Award was one of eight individual prizes given at this year's LG ICC Awards. Players eligible for this award must be under 26 years of age at the start of the voting period (9 August 2007) and have played no more than five Test matches and/or 10 ODIs before the start of the voting period.

For all the individual awards (with the exceptions of the Women's Cricketer of the Year and the Umpire of the Year), a long-list compiled by the selection panel was forwarded to the 25-person Voting Academy made up of former players, respected members of the media, an elite umpire and an elite match referee. They voted on a three, two, one basis (with three being the highest value) and the winners emerged.

The selection panel was chaired by West Indies legend Clive Lloyd and included former Australia captain Greg Chappell, recently retired South Africa all-rounder Shaun Pollock, former Sri Lanka opener Sidath Wettimuny and former Bangladesh batsman Athar Ali Khan.

The LG ICC Awards 2008, presented in association with FICA, are based on the 12 months between 9 August 2007 and 12 August 2008.

The LG ICC Awards ceremony is now in its fifth year and this is the first time it has been staged in Dubai, the home of the International Cricket Council.

Previous ceremonies were held in London (2004), Sydney (2005), Mumbai (2006) and Johannesburg (2007).

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