India’s Virat Kohli hit a windfall at the ICC awards after being named both cricketer and captain of the year. He also regained a trophy he had won for the first time in 2012 as he was named ODI player of the year as well. The corresponding prize for Test cricket went to Australia’s Steven Smith.
In the qualification period from September 21, 2016 to the end of 2017, Kohli scored 2,203 Test runs at an average of 77.80 including six double-centuries, 1,818 ODI runs at 82.63 including seven hundreds, and 299 T20I runs at a strike-rate of 153. With him at the helm, India are ranked among the top three teams in the world as well. All of that came culminated in his becoming the ICC cricketer of the year and winning the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy.
“It’s probably the biggest award that we have in world cricket,” Kohli said. “Two Indians getting it back to back makes it more special. Last time it was [R] Ashwin, this time I’m getting it so I’m really really honoured and I’d like to thank the ICC for recognising all the hard work that we all put in for our respective sides and I want to congratulate all the other winners also.”
Smith’s numbers were equally mind-boggling. Though the coup de grace was his performance in the Ashes, scoring runs with such frequency that comparisons with Don Bradman was made with every passing innings, he has been in sublime form for at least four years, scoring over 1000 Test runs in each of them. In the ICC’s qualification period, he made 1,875 runs in 16 matches at an average of 78.12, with eight hundreds and five half-centuries.
“It’s a great honour to receive this award for the second time, having won it in 2015 as well,” Smith said. “It’s called Test cricket for a reason, and I’ve enjoyed that test of my ability over the past 12 months.
“I got six Test hundreds for the year in 2017, which I was pleased about. I was pleased with the way I played but what pleased me most of all was that I helped us win Tests and, most importantly, The Ashes. To make a contribution in big matches and in big series and assist the team is what it is all about for me, and if I’m doing that then there’s a good chance that awards like this will follow.”
Four of the last five ICC Test players of the year are Australian, starting with Michael Clarke in 2013, Mitchell Johnson in 2014 and Smith in 2015 and 2017.
Moving to ODIs, Kohli was among the prime candidates to win the award. Only 29 years old, he hit his 32nd century recently, going past Ricky Ponting’s tally and moving ever closer to Sachin Tendulkar’s. “Twenty-sixteen for me I think was a breakthrough year and I was able to continue in 2017 also,” he said. “I think I worked even harder in 2017 and understand this has been a good phase for me but I will have to work even harder in future to play the same level of cricket I have been able to play in the past two years. But yeah, 2017 was indeed a very special year for me.”
Pakistan fast bowler Hasan Ali was named emerging player of 2017. This follows his becoming the quickest from his country to 50 ODI wickets (in 24 matches) and a player-of-the-series winning performance in the Champions Trophy. The 23-year old also topped the ICC rankings in one-day cricket when his career was only 426 days old. Only two others have risen to the top at a better rate.
“It has been memorable past 16 months for me as a young player and Pakistan as a team,” Hasan said. “This acknowledgement will not only inspire me to do even better in the coming seasons but will also convince the next generation of cricketers that hard work and good performances can never go unnoticed.
“This award is for all those who believed and backed us in the journey, and look forward to their continued patronage as the next 18 months will be more challenging with the World Cup in 2019.”
Rashid Khan, the Afghanistan legspinner, was named the Associate player of the year and claimed a place in the ODI team of 2017 as well. India’s wristspinner Yuzvendra Chahal taking 6 for 25 to send England crashing from 113 for 2 to 127 all out was adjudged the T20I performance of the year.
The winners were selected by an ICC voting academy which included: Javed Hamim, Emal Parsley (both Afghanistan), Mel Jones (Australia), Athar Ali Khan, M. Farid Ahmed (both Bangladesh), Lawrence Booth, Julian Guyer, Nasser Hussain (all England), Ian Callender (Ireland), Sunandan Lele, (India), Mark Geenty, Ian Smith (both New Zealand), Mazhar Arshad, Ramiz Raja (both Pakistan), Tristan Holme, Shaun Pollock (South Africa), Russel Arnold, Rex Clementine (both Sri Lanka), Mehluli Sibanda, Mpumelelo Mbangwa (all Zimbabwe), Ian Bishop, Vinode Mamchan and Barry Wilkinson (all Windies), while the voting process was monitored by the ICC’s Head of Internal Audit. International captains and match referees voted for the David Shepherd Trophy. ICC Spirit of Cricket award was decided by the umpires and ICC Chief Executive