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Pakistani players’ omission from top cricket awards baffles fans

By not winning any of the 10 individual prizes, Pakistan is the only major team not to be represented at the awards by the sports’ governing body.

By  Hafsa Adil

The absence of Pakistani players from the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Awards of the Decade has made former players question the sport’s world governing body’s “credibility and transparency” and left Pakistani social media in flames.

Indian captain Virat Kohli picked up the Male Cricketer of the Decade Award while Australia all-rounder Ellyse Perry swept the women’s honours when the awards were announced on Monday.

However, no players from Pakistan managed to win any of the 10 individual awards or make it to the Test, One-Day International or T20 team of the decade, making it the only major Test-playing nation to win nothing at the awards.

According to the ICC, an academy of journalists, broadcasters, analysts and former players cast 90 percent of the votes while fans across its digital platforms decided the remaining 10 percent.

However, a member of the voting academy told Al Jazeera that the bigger chunk of voting came from the fans that ultimately decided the outcome.

“If the ICC wants to retain any credibility for such awards in the future it must show some transparency and reveal what percentage of the votes were cast by fans [from each country],” former Pakistani fast-bowler Umar Gul told Al Jazeera.
In September, Gul, with 85 wickets in 60 T20s, was placed at the top of the ICC’s all-time top 10 T20 bowler’s list that featured four other Pakistani players – but none of them made the cut at the ICC Awards.

“It’s bewildering that players like Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi, Younis Khan, Yasir Shah and Babar Azam are not anywhere in these awards,” Gul said, adding that most of these were top performers across different formats during the past decade.

“One can understand the results if the majority of the votes come from the fans. The sheer number of voters from India can easily nullify votes from Pakistan. And given the political tensions between the countries, it would not be surprising to find Indian fans outvoting Pakistani players on purpose.”

The ICC has not responded to Al Jazeera’s request for comment on the awards, while a spokesperson for the Pakistan Cricket Board declined to make a comment.
“I think the ICC has announced the IPL (Indian Premier League) team of the decade, instead of naming a world cricket team of the decade,” said former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar.

India’s captain Kohli also won the ODI player of the decade in addition to being named in the teams for all three formats.

Following the announcement, several fans and analysts pointed out that Pakistan captain Azam, who has been among the top batsmen in ODIs and T20s for the past three years, and leg-spinner Shah, who became the fastest to get 200 Test wickets, deserved to win.

India is the only country to have at least two players named in all men’s and women’s teams, a move that Rishad Mahmood, sports editor of Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, said “smacks of bias from the ICC”.

“Not many critics or former players will take the ICC awards seriously as the organisation has lost its credibility as a ‘fair and neutral’ governing body,” Mahmood told Al Jazeera.
“I don’t think Pakistan’s budding cricketers will be discouraged by the awards as they’re aware of the merits and demerits of such futile exercises and the flawed working of the ICC.”

Echoing those comments, Gul added that although the omission hurt and angered Pakistani fans, the players would not let it affect their performance.

“Players do look forward to being recognised and being on the honour’s lists and it serves as a motivational factor. But as professionals, they also know how to move on,” Gul told Al Jazeera.

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