The International Cricket Council announced the first inductees -- including ten legends of the game -- into the voting academy to select the world's best players of the past 12 months at cricket's 'Oscars', the ICC awards, in September.
The 12 former players and media representative who have accepted the invitation to join the voting academy for the inaugural ICC awards, presented by Hyundai in association with the Federation of International Cricketers Association, are:
Michael Atherton, England
Martin Crowe, New Zealand
Kapil Dev, India
Sunil Gavaskar, India
Ian Healy, Australia
Michael Holding, West Indies
David Houghton, Zimbabwe
Graeme Pollock, South Africa
Barry Richards, South Africa
Sidath Wettimuny, Sri Lanka
Rajan Bala, Asian Age, India
Tony Cozier, media commentator, West Indies
The 'legends and media' group makes up 25 people of the 50-member voting Academy.
ICC Chief Executive Malcolm Speed said inviting former prominent players to be members of the voting academy added to the currency and prestige of the awards.
"The ICC awards are firmly about recognising and honouring international cricket's most outstanding players of the past 12 months," said Speed.
"There is no better way to receive that acknowledgement, than to be judged by your peers and by those whose views and opinions on international cricket are widely respected.
"The strength of the ICC awards rests on the selection process to judge the award winners.
"With an esteemed judging academy including current players, officials and legends of the game established specifically to select the award winners, we know the adjudication process will be a fair, measured and carefully considered approach resulting in worthy winners."
Seven player-related awards will be presented in two award categories (individual and team) at the gala ceremony, to take place on September 7 at London's prestigious Alexandra Palace.
All international players will be invited to attend cricket's equivalent of the 'Oscars', with the ceremony to be telecast around the world.
"The world's international cricketers are looking forward to the upcoming ICC awards," said FICA Chief Executive Tim May.
"Particularly from a players' perspective, there is no greater honour or more meaningful recognition than to be judged as 'the best' by your peers.
"This is the first time that the achievements of all international cricketers will be celebrated on a global scale and FICA in association with the ICC is proud to be able to host these awards," May said.
The voting academy of approximately 50 cricket luminaries including present captains, match officials and prominent former players is being specifically established to vote on the individual awards.
The voting academy is expected to comprise:
The captain of each country (in the case where there is a separate ODI captain, that player will cast the votes in relation to the ODI player of the year) (10);
All members of the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Umpires (8);
All members of the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Referees (Current officials who have officiated in a series in the voting period) (7);
The balance of the academy will be invited prominent past champions or respected members of the cricketing media who continue to have exposure to the game in many parts of the world in order to make informed judgments on the relative performances of cricketers from many countries (approximately 25).
The academy will cast votes for the individual awards from a shortlist of players identified on the basis of their performances over the course of the judging period.
Players from all Full Member countries, as well as Kenya and the United States of America, who will be in London preparing for the ICC Champions Trophy, are expected to attend the awards ceremony on September 7.
The team awards will see the announcement of official ICC World XI teams in both Test and One-Day International cricket.
The individual awards are:
Cricketer of the Year;
Test Player of the Year;
One-Day International Player of the Year; and
Emerging Player of the Year.
The team awards are:
Test Team of the Year;
One-Day International Team of the Year; and
Spirit of Cricket Award.
The Test Team of the Year and the One-Day International Team of the Year will both be World XI sides made up of the best individual international players in the respective forms of the game.
Selection for the World XI teams will be made by an ICC selection panel of five former high profile players to be appointed by the ICC. The teams will include a nominated captain and a twelfth man.
Players eligible for the Emerging Player of the Year award must be under 26 years at the start of the voting period (1 August 2003) and have played no more than five Test matches and/or 10 One-Day Internationals before the start of the voting period.
The Spirit of Cricket award will be presented to one international team determined by the captains and match referees. The number and nature of any ICC Code of Conduct violations by a team will also be taken into consideration by ICC Management when assessing the award.
In addition to the seven player-related awards, an award will be presented to the Umpire of the Year. This will be judged from the marks awarded by captains and referees over the course of the year.
The judging period for the ICC Awards is August 1 2003 to July 31 2004 and includes all Test and One-Day International matches played during this time.
The remaining members of the voting academy will be announced in due course, along with further details on the voting criteria, timelines and procedure.