Root, Shaheen, Lizelle, Babar bag top honors

DUBAI – Pakistani pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi, Pakistan skipper Babar Azam, England’s Joe Root and South Africa’s Lizelle Lee bagged the top honors in the 2021 edition of the ICC Awards. 
Shaheen emerged as the recipient of the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for the ICC Men’s Cricketer of the Year 2021. Shaheen has had a fabulous 2021 across all three formats of the game. He took 78 wickets in 36 internationals at an average of 22.20. His contribution in the Test and T20I formats of the game was phenomenal. At the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, he took seven wickets in six matches aiding Pakistan formidably to make it to the semi-finals of the tournament.  In the Test format, Shaheen remained consistent and claimed 47 wickets in only nine matches at a staggering average of 17.06. His most memorable performance was at the high stakes game against India at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. He claimed three wickets in that match which included the wickets of opening pair Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul and that of India captain Virat Kohli in the death overs. 
“Every performance I gave for Pakistan was enjoyable and memorable and was made possible through the support of my teammates. But to me, the standout performances remained the three wickets against India in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021, and the 18 wickets I took in the two-Test series against the West Indies in Jamaica.” 
Babar Azam of Pakistan and Lizelle Lee of South Africa named as the ICC ODI Cricketers of the Year 2021 across men’s and women’s international cricket respectively. Babar’s 158 in the third ODI against England at Edgbaston during the summer helped him win the award. With the series already lost, Pakistan were left to fight for World Cup Super League points, and Babar built on a solid foundation to bring up his career-best score. The knock, however, ended up in a losing cause due to a century stand between James Vince and Lewis Gregory. 
Overall, Babar featured in just six ODIs in 2021, finishing with 405 runs at an average of 67.50. “The best innings of the year if you ask me of the year, it’s this one. It’s the best innings of my career,” Babar said of his knock. “I was struggling a bit, I needed a knock like that and it gave me a lot of confidence.”  Lizelle Lee has had an outstanding year in ODI cricket. She scored 632 runs in 11 matches at an average of 90.28 that included a century and five half-centuries. Lee also finished as the highest run-scorer in 2021 in fifty over format. In South Africa’s tour of India, Lee was unstoppable, contributing with big runs in the 4-1 series win for her team. 
As part of the 2021 edition of the ICC Awards, the ICC announced England’s Joe Root as the ICC Test Cricketer of the Year 2021 for his consistent performance across the format in 2021. Root amassed 1708 runs in 15 matches in 2021, which included six centuries. He was in sublime form, as he became only the third player in the history of the game to aggregate over 1700 runs in Test cricket in a calendar year joining the elite club of Mohammad Yousuf and Sir Vivian Richards ahead of him. 
Root’s 218 in the first Test of the four-match series against India in Chennai was a master-class in batting. He tackled a quality bowling attack, both pace and spin, with ease and continued his form from the series in Sri Lanka. 
As part of the 2021 edition of the ICC Awards, the ICC announced Marais Erasmus as the ICC Umpire of the Year 2021. On top of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup final, Erasmus has overseen 20 international fixtures across all the three formats in 2021. Erasmus recently officiated in his 100th ODI, when he took the field in the first ODI between South Africa and India in Paarl last week. 
Meanwhile, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ramiz Raja on Monday heaped praises on Pakistan’s proud trio of Babar, Rizwan and Shaheen over their fantastic achievements at ICC awards. Taking to Twitter, Raja called the trio ‘incredible 3’. “The world of cricket is richer and so watchable because of you. A proud moment for the fans, who, through you, can now see a new beginning.”

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