Every year the ICC hands out it’s pick of awards, with the most prestigious prize normally reserved for the test player of the year. Contrary to most award ceremony’s, the ICC doesn’t host a glitzy event filled with players in tuxedos, totally unable to speak without first asking their PR teams if it’s okay, but this was no glam event, far from it. Simply a series of tweets dragged out over a seemingly endless time frame.

But as with all of these events ceremonies there is an element of debate over which player truly deserves their place or how it is disgraceful that another player was overlooked entirely. So, here at Middle and Off, we decided to go through award by award and judge how well the ICC have selected their winners.

ICC 2016 Spirit Of Cricket Award: Won by Misbah-Ul-Haq

Seems a fairly straight obvious pick this from the International Cricket Council. The veteran Pakistan skipper endured many calls to resign and retire as he aged and his form began to dip, many even doubted his fitness. Yet the batsman had a stelllar year as skipper. He led his side to an extremely impressive series draw in England before going on to lead his country to the top of the test rankings for the first time. His doubters were silenced, and those who criticised his fitness? Well they were well and truly shut up, Misbah’s dismay at such accusations prompted the celebration from him and his men of push ups at almost every opportunity. Misbah’s continued success was a real feel good moment for cricket this year and I think it’s very fair to say they got this award spot on.

ICC 2016 Umpire of the Year: Won by Marais Erasmus

Again this seemed blindingly obvious. The South African umpire has been a well respected figure for many years and this year in particular he rose to prominence. Whilst many of his fellow umpires saw many of their decisions torn to shreds by the DRS system, Erasmus was unfazed. His decisions were consistent and correct, to the point where it seemed pointless reviewing any call he made. Another award seeming nailed by the ICC.

ICC 2016 Test Team of the Year

Here is where the awards go haywire, a number of dubious inclusions that will need some explanation from the ICC. Where many have to be careful before complaints are made however, the period for the award was between 14 Sept 2015 to 20 Sept 2016, therefore meaning that Kohli’s heroic efforts against England would not be counted for example.

Having mentioned Kohli he seems to be the first decision to be explained. Whilst the period might not work in his favour his exclusion is still the decision that stands out the most. But here it seems the ICC have made the right, if unpopular, call. The Indian captain doesn’t feature in the top twenty runs scorers in the period, he is in fact 29th. Kohl scored 451 runs @ 45.10 and whilst it’s an impressive record, it’s not quite good enough to secure a place in the Team of the Year.

The inclusion of Alastair Cook is another many queried and it’s understandable. Whilst the England skippers form has been consistent you’ll struggle to find anyone who argues it’s been spectacular either. Yet when the figures are checked his numbers are very strong. During the period he was the second highest run scorer amassing 1269 runs @ 55.17, figures bettered only by his compatriot Joe Root. And whilst his selection as the skipper of the side may be questioned, during that time period he guided England to 6 wins, 5 losses and 3 draws. This therefore put England fifth in the world, their win loss ratio bettered by Sr Lanka, Pakistan, Australia and England.

ICC ODI Team of the Year 2016: 

The ODI team was slightly less contested yet there were still some choices that raised eyebrows. It was the omission of many Englishmen from the team that confused many. Joe Root and Alex Hales topped the run charts for the period, scoring 941 and 914 runs respectively. And whilst Root will understandably be disappointed it is Hales who is likely to have been hurt the most. His run scoring at the top of the order was unparalleled, the Notts man scored 4 centuries and 4 half-centuries, enjoying an average of 57.12, all of his stats bettering those of Quinton De Kock who took his spot and pummelled David Warner, the other opening option in this side.

The selection of the skipper in this side has come under fire. Whilst no-one would disagree with the selection of Virat Kohli, after all the man averaged 62.60 during the period, but to be chosen as captain? It seems a stinker of a decision as Kohli doesn’t captain his national side, yet AB De Villiers, who is also in the team of the year, does. Surely the player who actually captains a side should be the choice for captain of the year?

The spin option is also a doubt. Suril Narine has been chosen as the main spin option. The West Indian spinnner doesn’t feature in the top 6 spin wicket takers in the period, Narine was in fact seventh in the rankings. The leading spin wicket-taker was in fact Imran Tahir, the man nominated as the 12th man for this side. Despite this however, Narine does have the 2nd best bowling average of any spinner during the period, meaning his lack of wickets is far more likely due to a lack of matches and overs rather than anything performance based. In fact Adil Rashid, second highest wicket taker for the period, bowled a whole seventy overs more than the West Indian during the time frame.

ICC Cricketer of the Year 2016: Won by Ravichandran Ashwin

This is the big one. In all formats, the best cricketer this year according to the ICC is Ravichandran Ashwin. And just looking at his numbers it seems the obvious choice. During the period his his deceptive off spinners claimed 48 victims at an average of just 15.39 in the test arena, the kind of bowling average that’s unmatched. His ODI form may have been questionable a bowling average of 47, however having played just three matches that figure is understandable. In T20I it’s back to the same old story again. 19 games. 27 wickets. 15.62 average. Unbelievable.

That’s his figures with the ball, but he’s no mug with the bat, not by a long stretch. He may be a bowler at heart but for a long time he’s always been classed as an all-rounder and this year it really came to fruition. The Indian lower order batsman averaged a staggering 42 with the bat, reaching 2 centuries and one half century, sensational figures for a man who’s primary skill is to take wickets rather than defend them. Again not playing enough ODI’s ruin his figures. An average of just 1 from just 1 performance. And whilst his T2o figures don’t quite reach the lofty hights of his test figures, his average of 27.80 is still more than respectable for a lower order batsman like Ashwin.

With all that in mind, and the fact he became the highest ranked Test bowler in the world, it’s no real surprise he won and I think the ICC can give themselves a pat on the back for that decision. A job well done.

ICC Test Cricketer of the Year 2016: Won by Ravichandran Ashwin

Do I really need to justify this one? Average of over 40 with the bat, average of 15 with the ball and ranked best bowler in the world. Is there anything left to say?

ICC ODI Cricketer of the Year 2016: Won by Quinton De Kock

Whilst I admire De Kock as a player, I’d go as far as calling him one of my favourites in fact. But the ICC seem to have had a stinker with this award. There’s no doubting De Kock had a solid year, an average of 56.64 will always win you plaudits, but player of the year, really? Both Root and Hales all plundered more runs than the South African, with Hales even enjoying a greater average but even beyond just the top scorers there are seemingly better choices. Buttler, De Villiers and Kohli all finished the period with a similar average. Martin Guptill has just as big a right to complain as any, the Kiwi batsman scored his runs at both a better average and a quicker strike rate than the South African wicket-keeper/batsman.

It’s not just batsmen likely to feel aggrieved, have some sympathy for the bowlers too. Fellow South African Kagiso Rabada finished the period with 26 wickets @ 23.46. An absolutley fantastic set of figures for a young cricketer, figures that are in fact well worthy of an award. The Aussie quick Mitchell Starc is also likely to feel miffed about being overlooked. Starc took a staggering 20 wickets @ 19.45, surely there were other contenders who were more deserving than Quinton De Kock?

ICC Associate/Affiliate Cricketer of the Year 2016: Won by Mohammad Shahzad

I think I can speak for everyone when I wholeheartedly agree with the ICC on this one. The wicket-keeper/batsman’s figure were simply extraordinary during the outing period. He averaged 46.60 in ODIs and 33.31 in T20Is, a fantastic return. Couple that with his exuberant celebrations and the real feel good feeling the Afghanistan team generated during the World T20 back in February and you’ve got yourself a nailed on winner.

ICC Emerging Cricketer of the Year 2016: Won by Mustafizur Rahman

Similar to football’s European Golden Boy awards, whoever wins this is often expected to go on to have a very successful career in world cricket. With previous winnners having included Kevin Pieterson, Ian Bell and Peter Siddle winners are in very esteeemed company and this year it’s Mustafizur Rahman’s turn to see if he can live up to the hype. His stats certainly seem to suggest he can. Whilst threre isn’t much to shout about batting wise, his bowling stats on the other hand are simply out of this world. Averaging no higher than 15 across all three forms of international cricket, he boasts a test average of just 14.5, an ODI record of 26 victims at just 12.34 and a T20I record of 22 wickets @ 13.95. Exceptional stats especially when you consider he’s just 21.

ICC T20I Performance of the Year 2016: Won by Carlos Brathwaite

Unlike the other forms of the game, the T20 international awards is simply for best singular performance rather can continued greatness over an entire period. Due to this it was Carlos Braithwaite of the West Indies who took home the award for his spelll bounding performance in the World T20 final. Whilst it may still be slightly painful to discuss as an England fan, there’s no denying Brathwaite’s performance was electrifying. With the ball he was astounding, to have the calmness to deliver a four over spell during the final and take 3 wickets for just 23 runs shows something special within a player, and then to come out to bat, your side on the back foot and power your way too 34* including four sixes of the last four deliveries to take home the tournament for your country takes something special, it’s that something that often separates the great from the good, it’s what makes people heroes and it’s certainly what won rightly won Carlos Brathwaite this award.

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