Double delight for Babar Azam in ICC awards

PTI, Jan 26, 2023, 6:28 PM IST

Image credit: AP / PTI / File

Dubai: It was double delight for Pakistan skipper Babar Azam as he was picked for both the ‘ODI Cricketer of the Year’ and the ‘Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for the ICC Men’s Cricketer of 2022’ on Thursday.

A year after he won the ‘ODI Cricketer of the Year’ in 2021, the charismatic batter continued to dominate world cricket and was the only player to breach the 2000-run mark in 2022 across all formats.

Babar went past that milestone in style, amassing 2,598 runs at an imposing average of 54.12.

The Pakistani cricketer’s eight hundreds and 17 fifties during the calendar year was the best of his career so far.

The 2021 ICC Men’s ODI Player of the Year continued to rule in the 50-over format, scoring 679 runs in nine matches and it was no surprise to see the 28-year-old win the title for the second successive year.

He continues to hold on to the top spot in the ODI Player Rankings. Babar only played nine ODIs but made it count, scoring 679 runs at an average of 84.87 with three centuries.

Pakistan’s only loss in 50-over cricket last year came against Australia in Lahore and, going by the statistics, it is evident that Babar was an easy selection choice for the ODI Player of the Year title.

It was also a memorable year for Babar as captain in the white-ball formats — Pakistan won all three ODI series they played, losing just one match out of nine at the hands of Australia.

In the T20I format, he led Pakistan to the World Cup final in Australia, their first since 2009 as they finished runners-up to England.

Babar also enjoyed a tremendous year in Tests, accumulating 1,184 runs from just nine matches and did the bulk of the heavy lifting for Pakistan in the longer format.

He scored an epic 196 not out in a 10-hour marathon second-innings knock that took Pakistan from an inevitable defeat to almost pull off an improbable win in the drawn Karachi Test.

Stokes, Men’s Test Cricketer of Year

Talismanic England skipper and allrounder Ben Stokes, who redefined Test cricket in 2022, was adjudged the best in the longer format.

Since taking over as England captain, Stokes has led the team to nine wins from 10 Tests, completing series victories over New Zealand and South Africa at home, beating India in the one-off postponed Test to level the series at 2-2, and hammering Pakistan 3-0 away from home — England’s best ever margin of victory in the country.

Prior to his appointment as captain, England had been beaten in each of their four most recent completed series and had won just one of their previous 17 Tests.

Personally, he scored 870 runs at an average of 36.25 and claimed 26 wickets at an average of 31.19.

England’s scoring rate of 4.13 across 15 Tests in 2022 was the second highest in history and the most since Australia in 1910. In the matches in which Stokes led England, the team struck at a game-changing 4.77 per over.

England’s 506/4 on the opening day of the first Test against Pakistan was the most runs scored by any team on the first day of a Test and it came off just 75 overs.

Sciver reigns supreme in women’s cricket

England skipper and star allrounder Nat Sciver also made it a double. She was declared winner of the ‘Women’s ODI Cricketer of the Year’ as well as the ‘Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy for ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year’.

Sciver hit 1,346 runs and took 22 wickets in 33 matches in the year, captaining England for much of her side’s home summer.

She was exceptional in the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022, finishing as the tournament’s third-highest scorer and playing a huge part in England’s qualification for the final.

In ODIs, she scored 833 runs and took 11 wickets from 17 matches.

Illingworth, best umpire

Englishman Richard Illingworth was adjudged ‘ICC Umpire of Year’ for a second time. In 2019 too he was adjudged the ‘Best Umpire’.

The awards:

Men’s Cricketer and ODI Cricketer: Babar Azam (Pakistan); Women’s Cricketer and ODI Cricketer: Nat Sciver (England); Men’s Test Cricketer: Ben Stokes (England); Umpire: Richard Illingworth (England); Spirit of Cricket: Aasif Sheikh (Nepal).

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