Dubai: Pakistan fast bowler Shaheen Afridi was named men’s Cricketer of the Year on Monday, combining with teammates Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan to help his country dominate the annual awards announced by the governing 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.
Pakistan captain Babar was adjudged One-Day Cricketer of the Year while his deputy Rizwan grabbed the T20 award.
A fourth Pakistan cricketer, Fatima Sana, won the Emerging Women’s Cricketer of the year award.
Known for his sizzling yorkers and an ability to swing the ball, Afridi claimed 78 wickets in 36 internationals in 2021 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.
Azam beat competition from Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan, South Africa’s Janneman Malan and Ireland’s Paul Sterling to win the award.
“First of all, I am thankful for the fans for supporting me and cheering me on. After that, I am thankful to PCB and ICC and especially my Pakistan team for supporting and backing me. It wasn’t possible without them. I feel proud to have such a good team. I am also thankful to my parents who prayed a lot (for my success),” said Azam in his acceptance speech.
Azam might have played only six ODIs in 2021, but he made vital contributions in the two series that Pakistan played this year, scoring 405 runs in six matches at an average of 67.50 with two centuries. His best performance came in a losing cause in the final ODI against England.
Root was rewarded for his sublime form in 2021 when he become only the third player — after Mohammad Yousuf of Pakistan and West Indies great Viv Richards — to score over 1700 runs in Test cricket in a calendar year.
Root registered two double centuries and a further four hundreds, including three in successive Tests against India during England’s home series.
“I am incredibly proud to receive this award,” said the 31-year-old, only the second Englishman to win the accolade after Alastair Cook in 2011.
“I am very humbled to be in the same breath as a number of wonderful players around the world and it means a huge amount.”
He added: “If there was one hundred that really sticks out it would probably be at Chennai against India, the first Test match of that series (he scored 218).
“With it being my 100th game it is something that will live long in the memory.”
India opener Smriti Mandhana was named as ICC women’s Cricketer of the Year for 2021. The left-hander Mandhana beat competition from Tammy Beaumont of England, Lizelle Lee of South Africa and Gaby Lewis of Ireland to clinch the honour.
Despite India enduring a difficult 2021, Smriti’s stock continued to rise this year, scoring 855 runs in 22 international matches at an average of 38.86 with one century and five half-centuries.
In the limited-overs series against South Africa where India won just two of the eight matches at home, Smriti played a major role in both wins. She made 80 not out as India chased down 158 in the second ODI that helped them level the series and scored 48 not out to win the final T20I.
South Africa’s Lizelle Lee took the one-day honours, while England’s Beaumont bagged the T20 award.
South African Marais Erasmus was Umpire of the Year.