The International Cricket Council on Monday crowned pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi as the cricketer of the year by awarding him ‘The Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for the ICC Player of the Year,’ a prestigious award in cricket named after the great West Indian all-rounder.
In a post, the ICC said that “sizzling spells, sheer display of pace and swing and some magical moments” led Shaheen to the coveted award.
“I tried to produce performances for Pakistan. In 2021, our team performed really well. And we won some very good matches. I always try to produce good performances for Pakistan and I will continue my efforts,” Shaheen said in his acceptance speech.
The pacer added the current team had developed a chemistry and were gelling well together as a team, with each individual's performance spurring the team on.
“The most memorable match for me would be the match we won against India [in T20 World Cup]. It was a historical game,” he said and hoped for more good performances in 2022.
He grabbed eight wickets in 36 internationals at an average of 22.20, with best bowling figures of 6/51, according to the statistics shared by the global cricket body.
“The tall Pakistani quick was on fire throughout 2021, knocking some of the best batters over across all three formats of the game. He especially had a year to remember in Tests and T20Is, reaching his peak during the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in UAE where he impressed one and all with his sheer speed and skills,” read the post.
Praising the bowler, who wears the number 10 jersey which was previously worn by Shahid Afridi, the ICC said Shaheen ruled the T20I cricket format throughout the calendar year, taking 23 wickets in 21 matches with his death bowling improving by “leaps and bounds.”
Recalling his performances, it said Shaheen performed well in the home series against South Africa after a sluggish start to the year in Test cricket in New Zealand. He was consistent with his performance in Zimbabwe, West Indies, and Bangladesh. Overall, he scalped 47 wickets in only nine matches at a staggering average of 17.06.
Shaheen’s “memorable spell” against India in the first match of the T20 World Cup was a high-pressure match where the pacer grabbed early wickets in the powerplay of the game, giving an early breakthrough to the Green Shirts.
The wickets of KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma and consistency in bowling during the match also prompted the then Indian skipper Virat Kohli to sing praise for the bowler. “He [Shaheen] put our batsmen under pressure immediately with the new ball, and he ran in with intensity and showed that he’s bowling in consistent areas, so as batsmen you are forced to be a bit watchful,” Kohli had said after the match.
There was widespread and effluent praise for Pakistan's star bowler on social media as well, inclcuding on Twitter.
The PCB shared the picture of Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Teammates also congratulated Shaheen on such an achievement.
Singer Asim Azhar also joined them.
One of the users shared a collage of Pakistani players who won ICC's accolade this year.