Shaheen Afridi
Shaheen Afridi

DUBAI: Pakistan fast bowler Shaheen Afridi was named men’s Cricketer of the Year on Monday, combining with team-mates Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan to help the country dominate the annual awards announced by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

England captain Joe Root won the Test Player of the Year honours to prevent a sweep of the men’s awards by Pakistan.

Captain Babar was adjudged One-day Cricketer of the Year while his deputy Rizwan had grabbed the T20 award the previous day.

A fourth Pakistani cricketer, Fatima Sana, had won the Emerging Women’s Cricketer of the year award on Sunday.

Known for his sizzling yorkers and an ability to swing the ball, Afridi claimed 78 wickets in 36 internationals last year and was at his best at the Twenty20 World Cup even though Pakistan went out in the semi-finals.

“I got five-fors in Tests, but my most memorable performance was during our victory against India in the World Cup,” the 21-year-old left-armer said.

In one-day cricket, Babar Azam was the second-highest run-scorer with 228 runs and was also the Player of the Match in both matches that Pakistan won against South Africa.

Although Pakistan played only six one-day internationals last year, he scored a total of 405 runs at an average of 67.50, which included two centuries. “It has been an excellent year for Pakistan cricket across all formats and I am delighted to have been part of an outstanding bunch of players who displayed their very best, both on and off the field that, in turn, earned them well-deserved respect and acknowledgment from opponents and fans alike,” said Babar.

Babar Azam
Babar Azam

“One of the best parts of 2021 was that our side was able to further strengthen their connection with Pakistan cricket fans and I remain confident that this bonding will get stronger as we head into 2022, which will be more challenging and demanding than the year that has just finished.”

Joe Root, the England skipper, was rewarded for his sublime form in 2021 when he become only the third player — after Pakistan’s Mohammad Yousuf and West Indies great Viv Richards — to score over 1700 runs in test cricket in a calendar year.

“If there was one hundred that really sticks out it would probably be in Chennai against India,” Root said, referring to his stellar 218 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.

“With it being my 100th game it is something that will live long in the memory.”

In the women’s category, Indian opener Smriti Mand­hana won the Cricketer of the Year award.

South Africa’s Lizelle Lee took the one-day honours, while England’s Tammy Beaumont bagged the T20 award.

South Africa’s Marais Era­smus was declared Ump­ire of the Year.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2022

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