By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – Pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi and skipper Babar Azam on Monday clinched top honors as Pakistan dominated the annual awards of the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Left-arm fast bowler Afridi was crowned as the best player in all three formats – Twenty20 internationals (T20Is), one-day internationals (ODIs) and Tests.
Afridi, who picked up 78 wickets in 36 internationals last year, won the coveted Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for ICC Men’s Cricketer of the Year.
Azam was recognized as the ICC Men’s ODI Cricketer of the Year for his “match-winning knocks, spell-binding stroke-play and memorable moments” in 2021.
The batter smashed 405 runs in six matches at an average of 67.50 with two centuries.
The prestigious awards came to Pakistan only a day after Azam’s deputy Mohammad Rizwan was named ICC Men’s T20I Cricketer of the Year for amassing a remarkable 1,326 runs in 29 matches at an average of 73.66.
Pakistani pacer Sana Fatima, who claimed 24 wickets and made 165 runs in 16 matches, also bagged the ICC Emerging Women’s Cricketer of the Year award.
- ‘Afridi on fire throughout 2021’
Shaheen Shah Afridi “was on fire throughout 2021, knocking some of the best batters over across all three formats of the game,” the sport’s governing body said in a statement.
He had a standout year in Tests and T20Is, peaking during the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in the UAE, where he dazzled “with his sheer speed and skills.”
Afridi took 47 wickets in nine Test matches, eight wickets in six ODIs, and 23 wickets in 21 T20Is.
- ‘Year to remember’ for Azam
Babar Azam had “a year to remember” as he made “vital contributions” in the two series that Pakistan played in 2021, the ICC said.
The Pakistani captain’s 465 runs in six ODIs included match-winning knocks against daunting opponents South Africa and England.
His best performance came in the final of a three-match series against England, when he scored almost half of Pakistan’s 331 runs in the first innings, the statement said.
Azam is also among six Pakistani players featured in the ICC men’s ODI, T20I and Test teams for 2021, along with Afridi, Rizwan, bowler Hasan Ali and batters Fawad Alam and Fakhar Zaman.