The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has announced the results of the annual PCB Awards and as expected, Pakistan's current captain Babar Azam has won the award for the most valuable cricketer of the year.
The prodigious batsman was also named white-ball cricketer of the year following his mystical and reliable performances across ODIs and T20Is.
With an average of 110.5 and 55.2 in ODIs and T20Is this year, it was only natural to reward Babar with the white-ball player of the year award. He also participated in four Tests in 2020 averaging 67. Azam feels that it was a difficult year for athletes and he's honored to have won this prestigious award.
“I am truly humbled to have been awarded the White-ball and Most Valuable Cricketer of the Year awards by the independent jury 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.” Azam said.
Babar also talked about the experience of playing in front of the home crowd especially in Test matches as the Men in Green hosted Sri Lanka and Bangladesh last year.
“Captaining Pakistan at home was a huge moment for me though without crowds it took a bit of the gloss of that honor. 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.” Babar said.
The Test player of the year went to Pakistan's red-ball vice-captain Mohammad Rizwan, who scored 302 runs at an average of 43 across five Tests. He was also accounted for 12 batsmen behind the stumps.
“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 who I have huge respect for.” Rizwan said.
Rizwan also thanked his teammates and family members who have supported him throughout his cricketing journey.
“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.” said Rizwan.
The 28-year-old was also delighted by the confidence established after winning the best wicket-keeper batsman award from the tour of England.
“I particularly enjoyed my performances in England as these came in difficult situations and against some of the finest exponents of the 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.” Rizwan added.
Fawad Alam's knock of 102 in the 1st Test against New Zealand won the award of best Individual Performance of the year.
“I am pleased to have been rewarded with the Individual Performance of the Year Award. This reward is a recognition of my continued hard work and efforts, and will only contribute to further enhancing my confidence. Nothing comes easy in life, all one can do is to keeping work hard, staying focused on the targets, and wait for the opportunity.” Fawad said.
Aliya Riaz of Pakistan women's team was named Women's Cricketer of the Year and Fatima Sana was named best emerging Women Cricketer of the year.
“This award means a lot to me and I will like to contribute to my team’s success in the upcoming seasons by further improving my performances.” Aliya Riaz said.
The 17-year old Naseem Shah has won the award of Emerging International Cricketer of the Year as he was responsible for taking more than 20 wickets across eight Test matches. He also took a hat-trick against Bangladesh at Rawalpindi and went on to become the youngest bowler to have achieved that feat.
“What I have achieved today is only through the prayers of my late mother and, as such, I will dedicate this award to her. When I go out there to play for Pakistan, I have the belief and confidence that she is behind me and continuously supporting and encouraging me go an extra yard and perform for my country.” Naseem said.
“I am thankful to the fans and my team-mates for this recognition so early in my career. I remain motivated and committed to do my very best for the team and this award will go a long way in helping me contribute to the team’s objectives and targets.” the 17-year old said.
Kamran Ghulam had a wonderful Quaid-e-Azam Trophy season for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and he grabbed the award of best Domestic Cricketer of the Year after scoring more than 1200 runs and breaking the 37-year old record held by Saadat Ali.
“My dream has always been to represent Pakistan and I think I have taken a step forward in cherishing that dream. There have been a number of outstanding performers throughout the year in the difficult Covid-19 conditions but to have been identified as the Domestic Cricketer of the Year is extremely satisfying, not only for me but for all those who have contributed to my growth and development. I look forward to using this award as a launching pad for future challenges.” Ghulam said.
Former U19 Captain Rohail Nazir has won the award of Men's Emerging Cricketer of the Year after he played in more than 9 tournaments such as ACC U19, Emerging Asia Cup, HBL PSL 2020, Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2019, ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2020, two National T20 Cups and some of Pakistan Shaheens matches.
“I am delighted that my progression as a cricketer has been recognized through this award. This means a lot to me. I have set my target at representing Pakistan at the highest level and will continue to work hard to not only achieve that target but also match the outstanding performances of my predecessors through a long, consistent and successful career.” Rohail said.
The Umpire of the Year award went to Asif Yaqoob and he was voted as the best by match-referees and six Cricket Associations. The awards were given after the votes of an Independent Jury were taken into consideration.
*Independent Jury – Saleem Yousuf (Chairman, PCB Cricket Committee), Bazid Khan (former Test cricketer and respected commentator), Nain Abidi (former women’s player who played 155 internationals for Pakistan), Ramiz Raja (former captain and respected commentator), Rashid Latif (former captain and cricket analyst), Abdul Majid Bhatti (Correspondent, Jang), Abdul Mohi Shah (correspondent The News), Khalid H Khan (correspondent, Dawn), Zahid Maqsood (Sports Editor – Express News), Aaliya Rasheed (analyst) and Mazher Arshad (statistician).