LAHORE: Country’s most successful Test captain Misbahul Haq was Thursday night honoured by the Pakistan Cricket Board with two major awards along with an amount of Rs10 million and a seat in the PCB board of governors.
Misbah in fact topped the list of award-winning players including Hasan Ali, Shahab Khan, Imad Wasim, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed and Azhar Ali who turned out to be glittering in the galaxy of stars that illuminated on the horizon of Pakistan’s cricket in recent times.
Revived after a lapse of couple of years, the PCB annual awards coincided with the revival of international cricket in the country. The awards were presented to the national players in the presence of the World XI led by Faf du Plessis, sports’ giants, singers, entertainers together with mimics.
Held in collaboration with Geo TV and Pepsi, the awards evening also lured in West Indies Cricket President Dave Cameron, players of the World XI, ICC officials and former Test cricketers like Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar, National Selection Committee Chairman Inzamamul Haq and of course all the top officials of the PCB, its chairman Najam Sethi and the champion Pakistan team.
Misbah was awarded Imtiaz Ahmed ‘Spirit of the Game’ and Geo News Lifetime Achievement awards for his selfless contribution to Pakistan cricket. PCB Chairman Najam Sethi while presenting the award to Misbah counted his contributions and hailed his achievements. Terming Misbah God-gifted, Sethi said it is a very small gesture from the PCB to his high achievements and he wants him to advise the Board with his experience in the development of the game in the country.
He also regretted the absence of the other two legends Younas Khan and Shahid Afridi. “PCB wanted to honour them also under this roof but I don’t understand what mistake the PCB has made that they are not here today,” he added.
The award money which was to be presented to the two legends, he announced, will be donated to Edhi Foundation.
Misbah on his part thanked the PCB and all those who have supported him throughout his career from club cricket to region, department and the national team. He also thanked his parents, family, wife and children for their sacrifices for the achievements he has been standing for here now.
As of the other awards, the cricket committee of the PCB declared Hasan Ali and Shehzad Khan as the joint emerging players of the year and trophy was presented to them by Misbah and Shoaib Akhtar. The award of Pepsi T20 player of the year award went to Imad Wasim and the presenters were West Indies player Darren Sammy and Saad Munawar. Pakistan’s recent spin sensation Yasir Shah won the Quaid-i-Azam International Award and World XI captain Faf du Plessis gave the award. One-day best player of the year award went to Babar Azam and National Selection Committee chairman and former captain Inzamamul Haq and Mohammad Ali of Geo Super were the presenters.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed and former captain Azhar Ali both claimed the best players of the year award. They received their trophies fromWasim Akram and Shoaib. These awards were followed by Imtiaz Ahmed ‘Spirit of the Game’ and Lifetime Achievement awards and one and the only player who rescued Pakistan cricket from the brink of disaster, Misbah was awarded both these trophies.
As the evening rolled into action, Pakistan’s former captain Rameez Raja conducted the ceremony along with Ali Mir, who in his ‘Khabarnak’ style entertained the audience. Singers Aima Baig and Israr presented their best numbers, comedian Shafat Ali copied the talking style of different international cricketers including Faf du Plessis, Sammy and Michael Holding while mind reader Shaheer Khan performed brilliantly in his art of reading minds as he involved some of the World XI players about what they have been thinking at that time.
All World XI players were amused to have an amazing reception accorded to them. Plessis said it was fantastic to be here in Pakistan. He said it was a great experience of travelling here “it’s like learning and growing,” he said and added that he enjoyed captaincy.
Grant Elliott found his tour of Pakistan amazing. He was awed by the generosity and enthusiasm of the Pakistani fans.
Australian cricketer George Bailey said he understand how it feels like seeing star playing in front of them. “It was really important for me to come to Pakistan for fans as he when a youngster has always aspired to have an autograph of players like Ricky Ponting. “I hope world cricket would return to Pakistan,” he added.
Former England player Paul Collingwood said it was easy for him to make a decision of coming to Pakistan for his connection with former Pakistan opener and brother of Ramiz, Wasim Hasan Raja and Shoaib Akhtar.
Sammy said his connection with World XI was easy with his Pakistan Super League experience when he played the final in Lahore. He said: “I told the World XI players minus all the protocol when you enter the field in Lahore it will be like all the other grounds of the world”.
In the end, PCB Chairman Najam Sethi, who also highlighted the problems and achievements he made for the uplift of Pakistan cricket and holding of the PSL, gave special gold medals to the owners of PSL franchises.