Pakistan left-arm fast bowler Shaheen Afridi capped a sensational 2021 by receiving the ICC men's cricketer of the year award on Monday, becoming the first player from his country and the youngest ever to do so.
Afridi took 78 wickets in 36 international matches last year at an average of 22.20. But his most memorable spell was the opening burst against India at the T20 World Cup in the UAE, where he trapped Rohit Sharma lbw first ball and then castled KL Rahul with one of the deliveries of the year. That spell set the stage for a comprehensive 10-wicket win over their rivals — Pakistan's first at any World Cup.
“I got five-fors in Tests but my most memorable performance was during our victory against India in the World Cup,” Afridi, 21, said after receiving the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy.
Afridi's award completed a stunning season for Pakistan after captain Babar Azam was named the ODI cricketer of the year and wicketkeeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan the T20 equivalent.
A fourth Pakistan cricketer, Fatima Sana, won the emerging women's cricketer of the year award.
Meanwhile, England captain Joe Root was named the men's Test player of the year after scoring 1,708 runs in 15 matches in 2021.
Root's tally is the third-highest total on record in a calendar year, with only former Pakistan player Mohammad Yousuf and West Indies great Viv Richards ahead of him.
Root registered two double centuries and a further four hundreds, including three in successive Tests against India during England's home series.
“I am incredibly proud to receive this award,” said Root, only the second Englishman to win the award after Alastair Cook in 2011.
“I am very humbled to be in the same breath as a number of wonderful players around the world and it means a huge amount.”