Pakistan’s captain in all three formats, Babar Azam, was declared as Most Valuable Cricketer of the Year and also clinched the title of White-ball Cricketer of the Year as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Friday announced the awards for the year 2020 without including the categories of referees and scorers.
“Pakistan captain Babar Azam was named as the Most Valuable Cricketer of the Year following his stellar performances across all formats during the 2020 calendar year. In addition to the most prestigious award, the 26-year-old was also adjudged the White-ball Cricketer of the Year after averaging 110.5 and 55.2 in the ODIs and T20Is, respectively. In the four Tests, Babar scored 338 runs at 67.6,” a PCB press release stated on Friday.
Moreover, acting captain of Pakistan Test team in New Zealand, Mohammad Rizwan was declared as Test Cricketer of the Year.
“In five Tests, he aggregated 302 runs, mostly in difficult situations, with four half-centuries at an average of 43.14. He also accounted for 12 batsmen behind the wickets,” the PCB release said.
However, it may be pointed out here that the prolific Babar would have also seized this category, too if anyone had considered his Test statistics. Babar played just four Test matches to score 338 runs with one century and an excellent average of 67.46. He could not play the last Test of the year against New Zealand due to injury otherwise, his aggregate would have been over 400.
In fact, there was no close competition to Babar among the players as seasoned batsmen like Azhar Ali, Shan Masood, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq could hardly average around or below 40 which is indeed a pathetic scenario.
“Fawad Alam’s fighting and courageous 102 at Mount Maunganui, his first Test century in 11 years that made global headlines, was chosen as the Individual Performance of the Year by the independent jury that comprised highly respected and distinguished cricket personalities,” the press release further stated.
In the women’s section, all-rounder Aliya Riaz was named as the Women’s Cricketer of the Year while 19-year-old Fatima Sana was chosen as the Women’s Emerging Cricketer of the Year.
The 17-year-old Test fast bowler Naseem Shah won the Emerging International Cricketer of the Year following his 20 wickets in eight Tests, including a hat-trick against Bangladesh that made him the youngest bowler to achieve the rare feat.
The Domestic Cricketer of the Year honours went to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Kamran Ghulam after he became the only batsman in the ongoing first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy to complete 1,000 runs. He finished 19 innings of 10 round matches with 1,065 runs with four centuries and four half-centuries at an average of just under 60.
Rohail Nazir’s progression from the U19 level to Pakistan Shaheens’ captain has won him the Men’s Emerging Cricketer of the Year.
The match referees and six Cricket Associations captains voted Asif Yaqoob as the Umpire of the Year. However, no category for match-referees and scorers did not feature in the contest which was against the previous practices of the PCB.
When contacted, the PCB spokesman said that in 2017 and 2018 the PCB did not organize the awards event directly, but this time the PCB announced it under its own supervision and, following the international practices, it did not include the categories of referees and scorers. It may be mentioned here that during Zaka Ashraf’s tenure as PCB chairman, both the categories were also included and were also there in 2017 and 2018 while no such ceremony was organized in 2019 by the incumbent body of the PCB.
Moreover, Pakistan men’s national cricket team’s gesture to visit the Bangladesh cricket team dressing room to thank them for their first visit to Pakistan in over a decade earned them the Spirit of Cricket award while the independent jury decided that the staging of a highly successful and smooth HBL PSL 2020 in Pakistan, the first-ever PSL edition to be entirely held in front of home crowds should be declared as the Corporate Achievement of the Year.
The winners will be presented with specially designed trophies during the upcoming home series against South Africa.
Meanwhile, the winners of the trophies expressed pleasure over winning the awards and vowed to draw inspiration from these nominations to work harder in the future.
Babar said: “I am truly humbled to have been awarded with the White-ball and Most Valuable Cricketer of the Year awards in what has been a difficult year for all professional athletes. Without the support of my teammates and family, this would not have been possible and, as such, I owe big time to all of them for my successes in 2020 and hope they will continue to support me in years to come.
“Captaining Pakistan at home was a huge moment for me though without crowds it took a bit of the gloss off that honour. I think the cricket I played in England was some of the best. England is never an easy place to play due to the conditions and the players they boast, but to go out there and perform gave me the satisfaction and encouragement that I can compete against the best and help my side to do better.
“I am disappointed to miss the three T20Is and the first Test in New Zealand as I was determined and motivated to perform against what is a really good New Zealand team and managed outstandingly by Kane Williamson.
“I will reflect in 2020 with a lot of satisfaction and hopefully the honour and rewards I have won will only contribute to me working harder to further enhance and improve my performances as well as my young and talented team.”
Rizwan said:”There is nothing like representing Pakistan at a global stage but the task is only accomplished if you can contribute to the team’s cause. In this background, I am delighted to have won the Test Cricketer of the Year award, even though there were other strong contenders for whom I have huge respect.
“I want to thank my family and teammates and all those who have backed and supported me in this journey, particularly those who believed and stood by me even when I was unable to break into the side despite being a member of the team.
“I particularly enjoyed my performances in England as these came in difficult situations and against some of the finest exponents of red cricket ball. I am delighted that I was able to carry the confidence I got by performing in England by scoring two half-centuries in the series.”
Umpire of the Year — Asif Yaqoob.
Women’s Emerging Cricketer of the Year — Fatima Sana.
Men’s Emerging Cricketer of the Year — Rohail Nazir.
Spirit of Cricket — Pakistan players visiting Bangladesh dressing room after their 2-0 win in T20I series. This was Bangladesh men’s cricket team’s first visit to Pakistan in over a decade.
Men’s Emerging International Cricketer of the Year — Naseem Shah
Corporate Achievement of the Year — First-ever HBL PSL 2020 in Pakistan
Domestic Cricketer of the Year — Kamran Ghulam.
Women’s Cricketer of the Year — Aliya Riaz.
Individual Performance of the Year — Fawad Alam.
White-ball Cricketer of the Year — Babar Azam.
Most Valuable Cricketer of the Year — Babar Azam.