It's that time of year again, which means that voting has opened for the People's Player of the Year, Last year, it was an accolade which was won by Nepalese captain Paras Khadka by a margin of 243 votes from Nawroz Mangal, after around 30,000 of you cast your votes.
For the Associates as a whole, this year has been one of startling highs and crippling lows, of victories on the field and losses in the boardroom. The World Twenty20 in March and April made history by being the first global tournament to see three different Full Members defeated by three different Associates. The Netherlands in particular exceeded expectations by reaching the Super 10 stage and defeating England once they got there.
Since then, though, there has been a dearth of significant fixtures for Associates - a dearth which looks set to continue with the World Cup being scaled back to only ten teams. Anyhow, without further ado, here are the ten nominees:
The results of the poll are as follows:
Sompal Kami (Nepal)
Usman Ghani (Afghanistan)
Shakti Gauchan (Nepal)
Samiullah Shenwari (Afghanistan)
Khurram Khan (UAE)
Kevin O'Brien (Ireland)
Lega Siaka (PNG)
Calum MacLeod (Scotland)
Stephan Myburgh (Netherlands)
Ahsan Malik Jamil (Netherlands)
Total votes: 175,469
Thanks to all who voted.
Nepal's Shakti Gauchan is the first nominee this year. His canny left-arm spin has previously earned him a place at a Rajasthan Royals training camp. This year, his performances in his country's first three T20 International victories showed exactly why: figures of 4-0-9-3, 3-0-25-2 and 4-0-10-2 demonstrate his ability to dismiss good batsmen. He also added ten wickets in the WCL, five in the Asian Games and seven in the Asian Premier League to an impressive 2014 tally.
Sompal Kami is the second Nepalese player and the second teenager to make the list of nominees. He showed pace and promise at the World Twenty20, despite being overshadowed by Jitendra Mukhiya, but it is in the last six weeks that he has really come into his own. He claimed 18 wickets at 10.06 against Sri Lankan opposition in November before slogging a match-defining 40 against Hong Kong in Colombo on a truly horrendous batting track.
2014 has been yet another inspiring chapter in the story of Calum MacLeod. The opening bowler turned opening batsman has cemented his place as Scotland's most exciting prospect with a couple of astonishing innings: firstly, a Scottish ODI record of 175 against an admittedly weak Canada, and secondly, a composed unbeaten 116 against Ireland at Malahide. Both innings won their respective matches for his country. He also made a successful county return at number three for Durham.
The other Dutch hero at the World Twenty20 was Stephan Myburgh. The South African-born opener made an ungainly technique work for him in spectacular style, with rapid half-centuries against UAE, Ireland and South Africa, as well as a more sedate 39 against England. The Netherlands won three of those games, and should have won the fourth: they disappointedly squandered Myburgh's platform to lose by just six runs. He hasn't scored many runs since, though.
For Samiullah Shenwari the bowler, 2014 has been a disappointment, but as a batsman, he has been very impressive. He has scored 497 ODI runs in 2014, by far the most by any Associate batsman. The only thing missing this year has been a century, but scores his innings of 81, 50, 43, 82 not out, 65, 41 and 40 against Bangladesh, India, Hong Kong, UAE and Zimbabwe (three times) came invariably under pressure. The runs have dried up in recent months, but the wickets are starting to return.
Teenage Usman Ghani started his ODI career with a bang, scoring a rapid 70 to defeat Hong Kong by six wickets. He added a second ODI fifty the following day with 55 against United Arab Emirates, and has since made himself at home at the top of the Afghan order. His composed 118 during the tour of Zimbabwe was a mature and skilful innings, despite being trumped later by Sikandar Raza's 141. Ghani added another (non-ODI) century in the nine-wicket win over Auckland.
Following those two teenagers is a nominee older than both of them put together: 43-year-old Khurram Khan. His six most recent List A innings (including three ODIs) have been played against Pakistan A, New Zealand A, and Afghanistan and read thus: 53, 68, 14 (List A), then 53, 132 not out and 85 not out (ODIs). The unbeaten 132 made him the oldest ever centurion in One-Day International cricket, and he shows no sign of slowing down after yet another prolific and consistent year.
When a skinny medium-pacer from Rotterdam trundled in to bowl at the mighty South Africans, everyone expected Ahsan Malik to get carted, hammered, plundered. In fact, it was Malik who did the plundering, taking the wickets of Hashim Amla, Albie Morkel, Dale Steyn, Beuran Hendricks and David Miller on his way to a record-breaking five-wicket haul. He ended the tournament as the joint-highest wicket-taker, and later proved it wasn't a fluke with six for 40 against Scotland.
The Irish have endured, for them, a pretty torrid year, with Kevin O'Brien being one of the few bright spots. He has played five ODIs and five T20Is this year, and across both formats has averaged 37 with the bat and 21 with the ball. His unbeaten 42 against the Dutch in the World Twenty20 was impressive, but was forgotten amongst the carnage that followed. His bowling and captaincy have also been impressively disciplined, and he has enjoyed a consistent, if understated, season for clubs and country.
Before this year, few people were familiar with Lega Siaka. I certainly wasn't. However, match-winning hundreds on debut in List A cricket (103 against Kenya) and One-Day Internationals (109 against Hong Kong) have been integral to Papua New Guinea's exemplary 2014. A further century (an unbeaten 112 against Namibia) helped him to finish the season with a List A batting average of 64 at a mighty strike rate of 109, as well as a Melbourne Renegades contract in the Big Bash League.
Please do not try to vote in the comments. Use the poll at the top of the article.