Ben Stokes was Wednesday named the International Cricket Council player of the year, capping an unforgettable 2019 for the swashbuckling England all-rounder that included a match-winning knock at the World Cup.
Stokes won the coveted Sir Garfield Sobers trophy -- voted for by a panel of media representatives and former players-thanks to an unbeaten 84 in a dramatic final against New Zealand in July followed by a brilliant 135 not out to win the third Ashes Test against Australia six weeks later.
Stokes, 28, said it was a huge honour for any cricketer to receive such an award. “To be recognised and be the person to win that (award) it’s pretty amazing,” he said in a video statement. During the voting period, Stokes aggregated 719 runs and bagged 12 wickets in 20 ODIs. He also scored 821 runs and took 22 wickets in 11 Tests. However, the New Zealand-born star said his award was not solely for him as an individual.
“The past 12 months have been incredible for England cricket and to lift the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup for the first time was our greatest achievement,” said Stokes.
“This award is testament to my team-mates and the support staff that have been there every step of the way.
“Fundamentally, without the support of these individuals, we would never have achieved our objective of lifting a major trophy.”
Stokes, who carried his form into this year with a man of the match performance in the second Test victory over South Africa last week, said the strong bonds between the players can lead to further success.
“There is an incredible bond between team-mates and to savour our achievements, whether that’s winning the World Cup final at Lord’s or digging deep to win a Test match against Australia at Headingley,” said Stokes.
“It is satisfying you can accomplish these superb highs together. The last 12 months have been the best in my career, and I believe what we attained will be the catalyst to achieve further success over the next few years.” Indian opener Rohit Sharma was named the ODI cricketer of the year while captain Virat Kohli bagged the Spirit of Cricket award for his gesture to stop fans from booing Australia’s Steve Smith during a World Cup match.
Smith was returning to international cricket from a one-year suspension for changing the condition of the ball.
“I’m surprised that I have got it, after many years of being under the scanner for the wrong things,” Kohli said in a statement put out by ICC. “That moment was purely understanding an individual’s situation. I don’t think a guy who is coming out of a situation like that needs to be taken advantage of.” Kohli was also named captain of both the ICC Test and ODI teams of the year.
In other major awards, Australia fast bowler Pat Cummins was named the Test player of the year and teammate Marnus Labuschagne was declared emerging cricketer of the year.