Karachi: Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal dominated the first ever annual awards held by the Pakistan cricket board, scooping up four awards, while T20 captain Mohammad Hafeez won the PCB cricketer of the year award. Saeed, who had a successful tour of India recently, won the PCB best bowler awards for all three formats of the game but missed out on the prestigious cricketer of the year award.
He, however, won a special prize for best bowler of the year from the PCB carrying a cash prize of 1.5 million rupees. Opener Nasir Jamshed followed with two awards, including the PCB T20 and ODI batsman of the year, while Azhar Ali was declared Test batsman of the year.
The left-handed opener recently had a triumphant tour of India scoring back to back hundreds in the one-day series. This is the first time the PCB has organized annual awards and chairman Zaka Ashraf said they would now be a permanent feature.
"The aim is to encourage and recognize the stellar performers of the year in Pakistan cricket and to reward them accordingly so that they have incentive to further excel in their fields," Ashraf said at the awards ceremony.
Dave Richardson, the chief executive of the International Cricket Council, also attended the ceremony in Lahore on the invitation of the Pakistan board. Richardson gave away the lifetime achievement awards to two former captains and greats, Hanif Muhammad and Imtiaz Ahmed.
The board interestingly didn't invite the media to cover the event insisting that the rights for the entire ceremony had been brought exclusively by a Dubai based sports channel. Awards were given in 18 different categories with Sana Mir winning best women cricketer of the year award, Junaid Khan, the PCB emerging player of the year award, Ahsan Raza, the PCB umpire of the year award, while there were also awards for best deaf and blind cricketers of the year and best curator as well.
The PCB had invited most of its former greats and captains for the ceremony and they gave away the shining trophies to the winners. Ecstatic to receive the awards, Saeed said they were great compensation for not winning the ICC awards last year.
"I am just happy to see that the PCB has made these awards a permanent feature now. They will definitely encourage players to do better," he said.
Saeed said he cherished the PCB Test bowler of the year award the most as bowling in Test match requires fitness, perseverance and skill.
"You have to think the batsman out. I am happy that I was rated as the best out of an attack that is considered second to none," he said.
Azhar Ali said it was an honor to be named in a team that included some top players.
"In Test cricket this was Pakistan's best year for some time. I am very happy to have performed well as a batsman and to be named the best of the lot. This is an honour that would keep reminding me to do even better for Pakistan in the weeks and months ahead," he said.
Hafeez said it was very special to be named player of the year in a year which has seen some great performances by others as well. "It just gives me a special feeling and a sense of pride and self achievement."
Saeed Ajmal has also won a special prize for best bowler of the year from the PCB at the awards ceremony carrying a cash prize of 1.5 million rupees. The rest of the awards all carry cash prize of 200,000 rupees each.