Wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan bagged the title of the Most Valuable Cricketer of the Year as Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced the results of its 2021 awards on Thursday, according to a statement issued by the board.
The winners were announced in a virtual digital show, which was presented by Roha Nadeem and Sikander Bakht and is available on the PCB's YouTube channel.
"Mohammad Rizwan has won the PCB’s Most Valuable Cricketer of the Year award following a stellar 2021 in which he scored 455 Test, 134 ODI (One-Day International) and 1,326 T20I (Twenty20 International) runs, besides accounting for 56 batsmen behind the wickets across all formats," the PCB's statement said.
Rizwan beat skipper Babar Azam and teammates Hasan Ali and Shaheen Shah Afridi to bag the award.
Moreover, he was also "unanimously selected by an independent panel as the T20I Cricketer of the Year", the statement said.
Following the wins, the statement quoted Rizwan as saying: “I feel humbled and honoured to have been adjudged Pakistan’s Most Valuable Cricketer of 2021. This is the PCB’s most prestigious award and to be recognised for my contributions in the team’s superlative performances across all formats in 2021 in such a way gives me tremendous satisfaction and happiness."
“I thought I had an exceptional year in the shortest format of the game when I was able to hit a century early in the year against South Africa and then carry that confidence and momentum for the rest of the year," he added.
"I give a lot of credit to our bowlers who bowled their hearts out and didn’t let the pressure get onto the batters by maintaining sustained pressure on the opponents throughout the year,” he further stated.
While Rizwan won the title of Most Valuable Cricketer of the Year, Hasan Ali was named the Test Cricketer of the Year "for his 41 wickets in nine Tests, including a 10-for, five five-fors and two player of the match and one player of the series awards," the PCB announced.
Speaking about his win, he said: "Test cricket is the pinnacle format of the game and to be adjudged as the Test Cricketer of the Year is a proud moment for me. Last year was sort of a comeback year for me after I had missed international cricket in 2020 due to an injury. I was not only able to make a successful return to international cricket but also played my part in the team’s overall success in 2021."
He termed taking 10 wickets against South Africa in Rawalpindi in his second Test in nearly two years and helping Pakistan win the series 2-0 as one of the highlights of his performance during the year.
It was "a very happy moment that set the stage for the remaining part of the year", he said.
Moreover, Babar Azam, Pakistan's captain in all formats, bagged the ODI Cricketer of the Year award for accumulating 405 runs in six ODIs with two centuries and a half-century, the PCB's statement said.
It added that "Shaheen Shah Afridi’s three for 31 against India on October 24 in Dubai in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 won him the Impactful Performance of the Year award."
"This performance changed the outlook of the side as it not only defeated India by 10 wickets but remained unbeaten in the league matches until they lost a heartbreaking match to Australia in the semi-final," the PCB statement said.
On his accomplishment, Afridi said: “I am extremely happy that my performance against our traditional rivals in a global event has been chosen as the Impactful Performance of the Year. For the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, the team wanted an aggressive, fearless and convincing start to set the tone for the rest of the event and I am delighted that I was able to provide exactly that.”
Among other winners, Mohammad Wasim Junior bagged the Emerging Cricketer of the Year for his 45 wickets in 2021, including 15 wickets in his first year of international cricket, and Nida Dar was named as the Women’s Cricketer of the Year after aggregating 604 runs and taking 25 wickets.
Sahibzada Farhan won the Domestic Cricketer of the Year following his 487 runs in the Pakistan Cup, 447 runs in the National T20 and 935 runs in the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy.
For the second successive year, PCB’s elite match officials voted Asif Yaqoob as the Umpire of the Year.
Pakistan cricket team’s visit to the Namibia dressing room following their 45-run victory to congratulate and appreciate them on their qualification for their maiden ICC Men’s T20 World Cup and reaching the Super-12 stage won them the Spirit of Cricket award.
According to the PCB's statement, the winners were selected by an independent panel comprising former cricketers Rashid Latif and Marina Iqbal, broadcaster Tariq Saeed, statistician Mazher Arshad and journalists Majid Bhatti, Mohammad Yaqoob, Mohi Shah, Rizwan Ali, Shahid Hashmi and Sohail Imran.
Following the announcement of the awards, PCB Chairperson Ramiz Raja congratulated the winners.
“On behalf of the PCB, I want to congratulate each award winner. They deserve all the applause and accolades for their tremendous consistency across all formats in difficult times that inspired their sides to outstanding performances throughout 2021, which have been widely acknowledged by the Pakistan cricket fans,” the statement quoted him as saying.