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India's Suryakumar Yadav celebrates after reaching his century against South Africa at Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on December 14. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: India’s explosive batter Suryakumar Yadav has won his second successive ICC Men’s T20I Cricketer of the Year award as the first set of individual winners of the ICC Awards 2023 were announced on Wednesday. The Indian ace is joined by West Indies’ dynamic all-round captain Hayley Matthews, who claimed the ICC Women’s T20I Cricketer of the Year award.

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New Zealand all-rounder Rachin Ravindra (ICC Emerging Men’s Cricketer of the Year), Australia opener Phoebe Litchfield (ICC Emerging Women’s Cricketer of the Year), Netherlands all-rounder Bas de Leede (ICC Men’s Associate Cricketer of the Year) and Kenya captain Queentor Abel (ICC Women’s Associate Cricketer of the Year) were the others celebrated on the first of two days dedicated to individual winners in the ICC Awards.

Belligerent century

Yadav, who maintained his position atop the ICC Men’s T20I Player Rankings throughout the year, ended 2023 as the leading runscorer in the format with 733 from 18 matches at a strike rate of 155.95, and sees him win the award for the second year running.

Among a host of highlights during the calendar year, the 33-year-old batter from Mumbai smashed a belligerent 112 not out off 51 balls against Sri Lanka in Rajkot early in 2023 and finished with 100 off 56 deliveries against South Africa in Johannesburg while also notching up five half-centuries.

Yadav, who brushed off competition from New Zealand’s Mark Chapman, Uganda’s Alpesh Ramjani and Zimbabwe’s Sikandar Raza, said he was elated at winning the award again.

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Suryakumar Yadav ended 2023 as the leading runscorer in the Twenty20 format with 733 from 18 matches. Image Credit: AFP

Suryakumar Yadav: “I am thrilled to win the ICC Men’s T20I Cricketer of the Year award for a second time. Winning back-to-back awards for my performances in this format is something I could only dream about when I made my international debut. I have put my heart and soul into playing for my country and to see my efforts rewarded with such a prestigious honour is very humbling. I hope to continue this success alongside my teammates for what will be a huge year of T20I cricket ahead, with the Men’s T20 World Cup in the USA and West Indies just around the corner.”

Cherished moment

West Indies’ skipper Matthews also topped the runscoring charts for the year, registering 700 runs in 14 matches at a strike rate of 132.32. She celebrated scores of 99 not out, 132 and 79 while also taking five wickets with her off spin bowling in a T20I series in Australia that saw her win Player of the Match awards in all three T20Is against the world champions.

Significantly, she had a run of eight consecutive Player of the Match awards, having also won all three in a preceding series in Ireland and two in ICC Women’s T20 World Cup matchups in South Africa against Ireland and Pakistan.

Hayley Matthews: “I’ve been pretty blessed to have a good year wearing the West Indies colours. This is one of those awards that I’m going to cherish forever and knowing that it can make our West Indies fans home in the Caribbean and around the world happy is what motivates me to go out there and do my best”.

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New Zealand all-rounder played a pivotal role in the Black Caps reaching the semi-finals in the 50-over World Cup in India late last year. Image Credit: AFP

Standout performer

New Zealand all-rounder Rachin Ravindra was a standout performer in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 and played an important role in his team reaching the semi-finals once again. His aggregate of 578 runs was the most by anyone playing in their first World Cup and he also took six wickets with his left arm spin bowling.

The left-hander accumulated 820 runs from 25 ODIs during the year at an average of 41 and a strike rate of 108.03 with three centuries and three fifties. He finished with 18 wickets.

Rachin Ravindra: “It’s obviously a very special feeling. Whenever you are recognised by the ICC for something, it’s always special. Reflecting back, it has been a pretty whirlwind last year or so. Having the opportunity to play so much cricket in so many different environments has been really special.”

More awards on Thursday

Seven more awardees will be announced on Thursday based on their international performances and overall achievements during the last calendar year.

All 13 award winners were crowned following a voting period, which combined votes from the ICC Voting Academy and global fans, who flocked to to select their favourite performers from a blockbuster year of international cricket.