Pakistan’s men and women cricketers won laurels for the country as the International Cricket Council named Mohammad Rizwan as the Men’s T20 “Cricketer of the Year” and pacer Fatima Sana as the Emerging Women’s “Cricketer of the Year.”
The ICC announced winners in various categories on Sunday.
“Sheer consistency, indomitable spirit and some breathtaking knocks — the ICC Men’s T20I Cricketer of the Year enjoyed a memorable run in 2021,” a statement issued by the ICC said.
Wicket keeper-batsman Rizwan, while sharing his views on the achievement, said he is more happy because Pakistan has won the award.
“It is a pleasure to see Pakistan’s name among the top teams of the world,” Rizwan said in a conversation with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
Rizwan gave credit for his award to the team management, his fellow cricketers and analysts, saying that “team Pakistan has a standing in [the top squads of] the world due to everyone’s hard work”.
RAMIZ RAJA: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ramiz Raja congratulated Rizwan on a “well deserved achievement”. He lauded the cricketer, saying:
“Your humility, attitude and hard work defines you,” and wished more laurels and success to him.
RIZWAN HUMBLED: Mohammad Rizwan has said it may have been his patience that has helped him to be named the ICC T20 Cricketer of the Year.
A humble Rizwan was grateful to have represented Pakistan in this way. The 29-year-old, who was also named as the Cricketer of the Year in the recently-held Pakistan Cricket Board Awards, said winning individual titles was a better feeling.
“I was very happy to win the PCB Award too, but it was at a Pakistan level but this achievement is of the world level and it has brought a good name to Pakistan,” Rizwan said during a press conference on Sunday.
“Our parents tell us to ‘make a good name for Pakistan’ all our lives, and it has now actually happened for me and it makes me, my family and the whole country very happy.
“I hope more players can do this.”
Rizwan ruled the roost in 2021 when it came to the shortest format of the game. Aggregating a staggering 1,326 runs in only 29 matches, Rizwan scored at an average of 73.66 and a strike rate of 134.89.
Apart from his exploits with the bat, he was as solid as ever behind the stumps, playing a key role in Pakistan’s run to the semi-finals during the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, where he ended up as the third-highest run-scorer.
He also scored the maiden T20 International century of his career against South Africa in Lahore early in the year and ended it continuing his form with a brilliant 87 against West Indies in Karachi.
Rizwan was also named in the ICC T20 Team of the Year.
The abundance of success, Rizwan believed, was only due to his ambition to be the hardest of workers among his colleagues.
“The hard work I put in as a Pakistan player is the same as I put in when I play club cricket,” he said. “The success may be a result of my patience, but I try to be the hardest working person around,” added Rizwan, who is set to captain defending champions Multan Sultans in the upcoming seventh edition of the HBL Pakistan Super League.
The right-hander said he was not looking to ‘defend’ the title for the outfit and that he and his team wanted to take it as another opportunity to do well and even better.
“We are not thinking about defending this title,” he said.
“This is a new tournament, a new opportunity for us and we’ll come in it with new plans and try to do our best.
“All we’re trying to do is having the whole team on the same page and this was the main reason why we won the title last year.”
FATIMA SANA: National women’s team pacer Fatima Sana was named the ICC Emerging Women’s Cricketer of the Year.
The 20-year-old finished 2021 with 24 wickets at an average of 23.95 and also scored 165 runs at an average of 16.50 in 16 international matches.
She became an integral part of the Pakistan One-day International and T20I sides owing to her wicket-taking ability as a bowler and ability to add handy runs down the order at the same time.
Apart from playing at home, Sana also toured Bangladesh, West Indies, South Africa and Zimbabwe, and delivered impressive all-round performances everywhere.
In fact, 18 of her 24 wickets in the year came in the 11 matches she played against the West Indies. Sana showed a lot of heart against the attacking West Indies batters and succeeded in keeping them at bay.
Sana has shown good power and range as a lower-order batter too. Batting at No.8, she has registered impressive scores of 28*, 22* and 17* against strong sides like West Indies, South Africa and Zimbabwe, respectively.