so who is our best cricketer?

IT IS an old selection conundrum: you can't divide 15 players into 11 positions to choose a side.

IT IS an old selection conundrum: you can't divide 15 players into 11 positions to choose a side.

The judges for the Cricket South Africa awards to be announced on Tuesday night are sitting with much the same problem.

There can only be only one winner in each category but in most they have had the utmost difficulty in reducing their short list to just three nominees, given the stellar performance of the Proteas over the past 12 months.

They have beaten England and Australia in away Test series and beaten Australia home and away in the one-day format. As a result they are ranked No 1 in the ICC Reliance Mobile ODI rankings and No 2 in the Test rankings. They have won a staggering 26 out of 40 completed matches in the past 12 months - a winning percentage of 66.

Consider what the five nominees contesting the SA Cricketer of the Year award have achieved.

AB de Villiers made 600 runs with three centuries in the six Tests against Australia and averaged more than 60 in the two one-day series against the Aussies.

JP Duminy hit the winning runs and made a half-century in his debut Test against Australia at Perth and followed it with a maiden Test century that set up the Melbourne series clincher in only his third Test innings. His innings of 166 is the highest for South Africa against Australia since unity.

Ashwell Prince made 150 as stand-in opening batsman in his comeback Test match against Australia after injury and made four centuries in seven Tests during the review period.

Graeme Smith's 154 not out to win the Edgbaston Test and the England series ranks among the greatest fourth- innings centuries of all time. Another of his centuries set up the 414 runs chase in Perth.

He became the first South African to score more than 1600 runs in a year and he led his country to memorable series wins in England and Australia in the space of six months. The sight of him coming out to bat in Sydney with a broken hand was the indelible image of the year.

Dale Steyn turned in South Africa's finest all-round performance when he made a career-best 76 in a partnership of 180 with Duminy to turn the Melbourne Test around and then clinched the game and the series with 10 wickets in the match.

He was also the leading wicket taker in the world last year with 74 dismissals. - Sapa