While the ICC awards announcement of Monday brought bundles of joy to Indian fans as Indian cricketers swept 3 of the 10 individual entries, Pakistani fans remained shocked as none of the cricketers made it to the list of winners.
Questioning the world’s top sports governing body’s “credibility and transparency”, social media platforms were fuming with anger from Pakistani fans across the globe.
International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Awards of the Decade had no mention of any Pakistani cricketer in their winners’ list despite the players remaining on top of their charts all year long.
The most prestigious Male Cricketer of the Decade Award was swamped by the Indian Captain Virat Kohli while Australian all-rounder Ellyse Perry picked up 3 of the 4 honors bestowed to women in cricket, including Female Cricketer of the Decade, Women’s ODI Cricketer of the Decade and T20I Cricketer of the Decade.
Neither did any of the Pakistani cricketers get featured as winners in the 10 awards nor did they make it to the Test, One-Day International, or T20 team of the decade, becoming the only major Test-playing country to have won not even a single award at the ceremony.
90% of the votes that decide a winner are gathered from a group of journalists, broadcasters, analysts, and former players while the remaining 10% are cast by fans around the world on online portals, according to the ICC.
However, Al Jazeera reported a member of the voting academy saying that the majority of the votes are brought from the voters, which finally decide the result, opposite to what the governing body claims.
Former Pakistani cricketer Umar Gul expressed his disappointment in the ICC’s “biased” behavior and said, “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 every country).”
Gul became the top player on ICC’s list of all-time top 10 T20 bowlers that was posted in September with 85 wickets in 60 T20 matches. Along with him, 4 other Pakistani players were also featured. However, none of them was crowned with any of the awards yesterday.
The nominations, too, had only 2 mentions of Pakistani players across the 10 individual awards- Misbah-ul-Haq in ICC Spirit of Cricket Award of the Decade that was ultimately bagged by MS Dhoni of India and Yasir Shah in ICC Men’s Test Cricketer of the Decade that was picked up by Steve Smith of Australia.
Speaking about how many Pakistani players were top performers of their formats in the last 10 years, Gul said, “It’s bewildering that players like Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi, Younis Khan, Yasir Shah, and Babar Azam are not anywhere in these awards.”
“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,” he added.
While the ICC chose not to reply to Al Jazeera’s request to comment on the queries, Pakistan Cricket Board’s spokesman refused to speak about it.
“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.
Many experts and fans highlighted the performance of Pakistan captain Azam over the years as he has been one of the top batsmen in ODIs and T20s, consecutively for the past 3 years. Leg-spinner Shah was also liable to win as he became the fastest player to achieve 200 Test wickets, they said.
As India became the only nation with at least 2 cricketers being nominated in male and female awards, Pakistani newspaper Dawn’s sports editor, Rishad Mahmood called the act “smacks of bias from the ICC”.
“Not many critics or former players will take the ICC awards seriously as the organization has lost its credibility as a ‘fair and neutral’ governing body,” Mahmood said adding, “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.”