The man of the match cricket award, sometimes known as the player of the match award, is an important part of the game. Betting Maestro explains how it came about, who decides on it and the strange and unique cases of there not being an outright winner.
Cricket Man of the Match: All you need to know
Betting on the man of the match in cricket is a fun and potentially profitable form of cricket betting. With 22 different candidates for it, you’ll almost never find any player shorter than about 7.0 for it and only world superstars like Virat Kohli, David Warner, Mitchell Starc or Shakib Al-Hasan would ever be that short anyway.
But first let’s go through the basics regarding the award.
What is the man of the match cricket award?
In any game of cricket anywhere in the world at just about any level, there will always be a man-of-the-match. And that’s certainly the case with any game of cricket that you can bet on.
In cricket it’s much more of a big deal than it is in say football or rugby. It’s not often you remember who was man-of-the-match in either of those two sports unless they scored a hat-trick in football or kicked 30-odd points in rugby but in cricket it’s talked about a lot more. ‘His quickfire century deservedly got him man-of-the-match’ or ‘that five-fer saw him walk away with the man-of-the-match gong’, that sort of thing. Just as an example, in cricket when a player’s career stats are listed they will normally include how many man-of-the-match awards they’ve collected in each of the different formats over their career. But you’d never see that for a footballer.
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How is the man of the match cricket award decided?
That varies. Sometimes it’s the match officials who decide on it, other times members of the TV broadcaster who vote. On the one hand it doesn’t matter who decides as you’d expect the vote to always be fair and impartial. Twitter would go mental if someone undeservedly won it and there was a hint of bias or nepotism involved. And the game of cricket can’t have that.
But on the other hand it’s worth remembering that it isn’t an exact science. Who the top batsman in the match is, who won the game or how many runs a team scored batting first is an objective question in terms of the winner of each of those. But with the man-of-the-match award it’s based on someone (or several people’s) opinion on who made the outstanding contribution to the match.
And because of that, there may be times when it’s a close call between two or more players. And you may even disagree as to which players ends up getting it. Particularly when it’s the one you bet on who didn’t get it!
Does the man of the match cricket player always play for the winning team?
Without trawling through 30 years of cricket scorecards (MOM awards started to be introduced as a matter of course in the 80s) for an exact figure, I’d estimate that he does in about 98% of occasions.
It follows that the crucial performance of the match was in a winning cause rather than a losing one but there have been a few notable exceptions. Occasionally a player has made a big score with the bat in a losing cause, far higher than anything any batsman from the winning side has scored, and the ‘judges’ decide that the player on the losing team did as much as he could and that it wasn’t his fault his side went on to lose.
An example of this was when Sachin Tendulkar scored 175 for India against Australia in an ODI in 2009. Chasing a monster 350 runs, Tendulkar played a mind-boggling knock but India ended 3 runs short. Yeah, they lost the match but it was hard to argue that there had been a better performance than Tendulkar’s on the day. For the record, Tendulkar holds the record for the most man-of-the-match cricket awards in a losing cause in ODIs with six. That it happened just six times across his 463 times he played ODIs for India shows how rarely this happens.
Shared man of the match award
Very occasionally the man of the match award is shared. This happens most frequently when a player from the losing side puts in a slightly better performance than that of the best player from the winning team. In an ODI between Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, curiously also in 2009, Zimbabwe’s Charles Coventry scored 194 in a losing cause while Tamim Iqbal of Bangladesh hit 154 in a winning one. They shared the award.
It can also happen that two players from the same side share the award.
A good example of that was the famous drawn Test in 1999 when Michael Atherton and Jack Russell shared an epic stand on the final day to deny South Africa what seemed like a certain victory.
An even rarer scenario is when the whole team is awarded the man-of-the-match award. Well, so rare in fact that it only happened once in the history of Test cricket. It was in January 1999 and the thinking behind it was that so many different South African players had made a telling contribution in different ways that it was impossible to pick just one player. That was probably a bit harsh on the likes of Jacques Kallis, who scored 110 runs and took three wickets or Allan Donald, who took six wickets. And a little generous to the likes of Daryll Cullinan, who contributed just 13 runs. But you can see why they did it that way.
Man-of-the-match cricket award in drawn Test matches
Of course in ODIs and T20s there’s a winner about 99.5% of the time (it’s not 100% because you could get a tie in either). But in Test cricket you probably get a draw about once in every three or four matches.
When this happens, the man-of-the-match is the player deemed to have been the best on the pitch so theoretically there’s about an equal chance of him coming from one side or the other.
But despite these notable exceptions, in general it’s best just to assume the man-of-the-match award will go to a player from the winning team.
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