Ravichandran Ashwin has capped off a marvellous year by becoming the ICC Player of the Year as well as ICC Test Player of the Year for 2016 on December 22. He becomes the third Indian to win the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy following Rahul Dravid in 2004 and Sachin Tendulkar in 2010. The voting period in consideration for the award was September 14, 2015 to September 20, 2016. Ashwin has played eight tests this year and claimed an astonishing 48 wickets at an average of 15.39, which is commendable to say the least. It was also this year that he finally branched out as an all-rounder in the longer format and that has seen him harvest 336 runs at an average of 42. This includes a couple of centuries against West Indies on their home turf.
As it is Ashwin heads the list of bowlers in test cricket in the latest player rankings released by ICC. In the recently-concluded series against England he picked 28 wickets to help the team win 4-0 and thus help the team clinch the top spot in the ICC test team rankings.
Performance in limited overs
Ashwin has not played more than three one day games during this period but the 30 year old all-rounder has had a good year in T20 games where he has claimed 27 wickets spending only 15.62 runs per wicket.
Record of team India in the voting period
In the said period India has won a test series at home against South Africa by a margin of 3-0 and defeated West Indies in the Caribbean by 2-0. The series win against South Africa was marred by sub-par pitches that were criticized by most and also put a blot on India’s achievement. However, India played commendably in West Indies under the new coach Anil Kumble, who it seems has brought renaissance in the Indian team with his methods.
India has played well in T20s during the period under consideration, winning every game in a three match series against Australia in Australia and then won the Asia Cup, which was played in a T20 format this year. It also progressed to the semifinals of the World T20 played in India itself.
How has R Ashwin flowered this year?
From the very early days, it was pretty evident that Ashwin was a capable batsman. Every now and then he would come in and play a crucial innings or two but he was more or less a bowler, and a match-winning one at that. However, from this year – especially from the West Indies series – something changed in him and he seemed a different beast as it were. The appointment of Anil Kumble as the coach of the Indian test team saw a new age of respectable, confident, and brave cricket come into play. Gone were the memories of the South Africa where dust-bowls had to be used to vanquish an opponent that had already given up mentally by just looking at the pitch.
Kohli was a different captain than his predecessor Dhoni. He wanted to win every time and was willing to do so playing an aggressive brand of cricket. Ashwin became an important cog in the wheel. Kohli wanted to play five bowlers at most times because he wanted to win and Ashwin as a decent batsman had to essay the role of all-rounder considering how the likes of Stuart Binny had failed to step up to the plate. He was central to the team’s success and Ashwin thrived under the extra responsibility. Ever since, he has produced two centuries and four half centuries to go with eight 5 wicket hauls. In fact, his contributions have gone a long way in helping India become the force that it has become in tests.
Following is a list of cricketers who have been awarded by the ICC for the last year:
ICC Cricketer of the Year 2016: R Ashwin
ICC Spirit of the Year 2016: Misbah-ul-Haq
ICC Test Cricketer of the Year 2016: R Ashwin
ICC ODI Cricketer of the Year 2016: Quinton de Kock
ICC Emerging Cricketer of the Year 2016: Mustafizur Rahman
ICC Associate/Affiliate Cricketer of the Year: Mohammad Shahzad (Afghanistan)
ICC T20I Performance of the Year: Carlos Brathwaite
ICC Women’s team of the Year 2016: Suzie Bates, Rachael Priest (wk), Smriti Mandhana, Stafanie Taylor (c), Meg Lanning, Ellyse Perry, Heather Knight, Deandra Dottin, Sune Luus, Anya Shrubsole, Leigh Kasperek and Kim Garth (12th).
ICC Test team of the Year 2016: David Warner, Alastair Cook (c), Kane Williamson, Joe Root, Adam Voges, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Ben Stokes, R Ashwin, Rangana Herath, Mitchell Starc, Dale Steyn and Steve Smith (12th man).
ICC ODI team of the Year 2016: David Warner, Quinton de Kock (wk), Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Jos Buttler, Mitchell Marsh, Ravindra Jadeja, Mitchell Starc, Kagiso Rabada, Sunil Narine, Imran Tahir (12th man).