While Pakistan cricket went through arguably its roughest patch in recent months, nominations for the International Cricket Council (ICC) awards in various categories provided the shortlisted individuals with increased enthusiasm and the encouragement they needed to produce even better results.
Pakistan captain Misbahul Haq was his country’s lone representative for the Cricketer of the Year Award but three recent stars – Azhar Ali, Adnan Akmal and Wahab Raiz – were shortlisted for the Emerging Player of the Year category.
Other Pakistanis to have been nominated were Mohammad Hafeez and Saeed Ajmal for the One-Day International (ODI) Player of the Year Award.
The nomination comes at a timely turn of Misbah’s career who has been, in the recent past, criticised for his on-field show.
“It gives satisfaction to players, being paid back for the hard work in this form,” said Misbah. “Although it’s just a nomination, it still boosts your confidence and inducts new energy in you.
“It’s a positive sign as it also drives you to strive harder, to improve on your current show and reach further. As far as the criticism is concerned, I think this is an ongoing practice by some individuals and analysts who a player should not be afraid of. Hard work is the simple reply to all sorts of criticism.”
Another Pakistani who seemed to have turned the tide was Hafeez who has performed better than most of his teammates since his return to the squad.
It seems like a recall to the side after a long gap of nearly three years suited him.
On the tour of the West Indies, Hafeez continued his good form with bat and ball scoring 267 runs in five matches with an average of 53 while taking six wickets at an average of just over 23. He made his second One-Day International century on the tour as well, scoring a fluent 121.
“I worked very hard in last three years for the comeback and I think this nomination tells me I’m heading in the right direction,” said Hafeez. “Everyone apart from us has been palying in their home conditions but we still have been able to make an impact, playing away from home and deprived of home conditions. Still, we managed to have nominations which is something great and I am very delighted for everyone.”
Meanwhile, after earning a recall to the national side after missing out on the tour of the West Indies, Adnan was shocked to be shortlisted.
He was added to Pakistan’s Test squad in place of Zulqarnain Haider, who fled the UAE midway through the series against South Africa, and took eight catches in his last Test before being overlooked.
“I never hoped to be nominated but it’s an honour for me,” said Akmal. “I didn’t play much cricket but whatever I played, I did it sincerely and that is the main reason why I was able to make an impact.”
Ijaz named batting consultant
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has named former captain and fielding coach Ijaz Ahmed as the national side’s batting consultant for the upcoming tour of Zimbabwe.
Ijaz’s inclusion in the management party comes as a surprise after Aqib Javed was overlooked for the tour while Shahid Aslam also got the axe. Ijaz was part of the coaching panel in England and was seen to spend a long time in the nets with the youngsters that the team were relying on during the series against Australia and the hosts.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2011.