The International Cricket Council (ICC) has awarded Pakistan’s Captain Babar Azam the title of ODI Cricketer of the Year, after his momentous year leading Pakistan to victory against South Africa and beating India.
In his acceptance speech, Azam said of this year’s green-shirts, “It wasn’t possible without them. I feel proud to have such a good team.”
“The best inning, if you ask me, is that I scored 158 against England, which is also my highest score. I reckon it’s the best innings of my career,” Azam recalled.
Citing “match-winning knocks, spell-binding stroke-play and memorable moments,” the ICC announcement comes on the heels of his previous award as captain of this year’s ICC Men’s ODI team.
“Babar Azam might have played only six ODIs in 2021, but he made vital contributions in the two series that Pakistan played this year,” the ICC said.
In a pivotal game against South Africa, Azam became the second-highest run-scorer with 228 runs.
The ICC called Azam the ‘lone warrior’ in Pakistan’s games against England, which the team ultimately lost, but was considered his best performance of the year, with Azam scoring almost half of the team’s runs.
“Walking in to bat early in the innings, Babar strung a 92-run stand with Imamul Haq to bail Pakistan out of trouble. He was cautious in his approach initially, bringing up his half-century in 72 balls. He made up for it by bringing up the next fifty runs in just 32 balls — it was his second ODI century of the year,” the ICC announcement read.
Azam beat out Bangladesh’s Shakib al Hasan, South Africa’s Janneman Malan and Ireland’s Paul Stirling, who were also nominated for the award.