ICC Awards 2021: Team India’s Fall, Pakistan’s Rise

Pakistani players bagged the maximum number of ICC awards in the 2021 edition but none of the Indians could figure in the winner's list.

Indian cricket vs Pakistan cricket
Indian players failed to win a single ICC award in the 2021 edition which saw three Pakistanis bagging the honours. (Photo: India Ahead Network)

TEAM India’s slide on the cricket field was reiterated during the International Cricket Council (ICC) awards 2021 in the men’s category. The awards honouring the top players saw Pakistan dominating the 2021 list while Indian players, who had bagged them 27 times in different categories since 2004, were missing. Before the 2021 edition, India’s arch-rivals were never a big player in the ICC awards, winning only four times between 2004 and 2019.

India’s dominance can be gauged from the fact that their closest competitors are Australia with 20 awards with former Indian skipper Virat Kohli winning seven ICC awards, the same number that all the Pakistani players combined have after they swept the 2021 edition.

In 2021, Pakistani players have bagged the maximum number of awards but none of the Indians could figure in the winner’s list. The last time no Indian player managed to win an ICC award was in 2015 and before that 2005, 2006, and 2007 editions saw the Men in Blue drawing a blank.

Moreover, out of the five categories for the men (full-time ICC members) in 2021, just one Indian player was able to secure the nomination – Ravichandran Ashwin in the ICC Men’s Test Cricketer of the Year.

He was pitted against England’s Joe Root, Kyle Jamieson of New Zealand, and Sri Lankan Dimuth Karunaratne. When the awards were announced Ashiwn’s performance in 2021 was not able to get him past England Test team captain Root, who bagged the honours.

Pakistan’s Resurgence

Indian and Australian players have dominated the ICC awards since its launch in 2004. The current Indian coach Rahul Dravid had the honour of holding the first Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy as the first recipient of the ICC Men’s Cricketer of the Year in 2004. He had also bagged the ICC Men’s Test Cricketer of the Year award in 2004 while Irfan Pathan was the winner of the ICC Men’s Emerging Cricketer award in the same year.

But the bragging rights in the 2021 edition went to the Pakistanis. Riding on their brilliant show especially in the limited-overs cricket during the year, Pakistani players swept the awards winning in three of the five categories. Pakistani left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi was named the ICC Men’s Cricketer of the Year, his skipper Babar Azam Men’s ODI Cricketer of 2021, and wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan bagging the T20I Cricketer of the Year trophy.

Pakistan also had three representatives – batter Fawad Alam and the pace duo of Hasan Ali and Shaheen Shah Afridi in the Test Team Of the Year. Babar Azam was named the captain of the ODI team of the year and his Pakistani teammate Fakhar Zaman was also named in the Playing XI. 

Azam was named the leader of the T20I team of the year which also has Mohammad Rizwan and Shaheen Shah Afridi from Pakistan.

Before 2021, the four Pakistani winners were Mohammad Yousuf, Umar Gul, Misbah-ul-Haq, and Hasan Ali.

Yousuf was the ICC Men’s Test Cricketer Of The Year in 2007 and fast bowler Ali won the Emerging Cricketer Of The Year award a decade later in 2017. Umar Gul was named the ICC Twenty20 International Performance of the Year (succeeded now by the T20I Player of the Year) in 2013, and Misbah bagged the ICC Spirit Of Cricket award in 2016.

In the previous awards in 2019, three Indians – Rohit Sharma, Kohli, and Deepak Chahar – had won in the ICC Men’s ODI Cricketer of the Year, Spirit of Cricket, and Twenty20 International Performance of the Year (succeeded by T20I Cricketer of the Year from 2021) categories respectively.

The ICC had in 2020 not announced the awards; instead, the world cricket body had given away the ICC Awards of the Decade.

Kohli won the ICC Male Cricketer of the Decade and the ODI Cricketer of the Decade awards. Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the recipient of the Spirit of Cricket Award of the Decade.

The saving grace for India was the Test team award which saw a fair representation of the Men in Blue. Indian white-ball captain Rohit Sharma, wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant and Ashwin made it to the ICC Test Team Of 2021 although no Indian player could make it to the ODI and T20I Playing XIs.