Babar Azam wins ICC Player of the Month award

Pakistan captain becomes the first player to win the ICC Men’s Player of the Month award on two occasions, having won the title in April 2021.

Babar Azam wins ICC Player of the Month award PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan captain Babar Azam and Australia opener Rachael Haynes have been voted the ICC Players of the Month for March 2022.

Azam was at his brilliant best throughout March, with his superb 196 in the second Test against Australia in Karachi a clear standout as he beat West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite and Australia skipper Pat Cummins for the coveted monthly award and becomes the first player to win the ICC Men’s Player of the Month award on two occasions, having won the title in April 2021.

In the recently concluded Benaud-Qadir Trophy, Azam finished as the third-highest run-scorer after Usman Khawaja and Abdullah Shafique. In his five outings, he scored 390 runs at an average of 78, including two half-centuries and a century. The highlight of the series was his match-saving 196 in the second innings of the second Test in Karachi.  

Azam continued his outstanding form in the ODI series, playing vital knocks in the first two games. In the first ODI, he notched up a score of 57 in Pakistan's 88-run loss before scoring a brilliant 118 to lead Pakistan to a six-wicket win in the second contest.

"Babar Azam wins this award not only because of his significant glut of runs scored during the Pakistan v Australia tour, he was able to transition success with the bat across formats, from the Test Series into ODIs," said former West Indies star and member of the voting panel Daren Ganga. 

"Significantly, him being able to fulfil the burden of expectation as a captain and batsman for Pakistan being host to an Australian team visiting after 24 years is a monumental achievement." 

Haynes’ month was just as impressive as she claimed the women’s award ahead of England spinner Sophie Ecclestone and South Africa opener Laura Wolvaardt.

Haynes' contribution at the top of the order was one of the biggest positives for Australia throughout the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup 2022 in New Zealand, which they won for a seventh time early in April. 

Across eight ODI matches in March, Haynes scored a total of 429 runs at an average of 61.28 with the highlight being a classy 130 against England in Australia’s opening match of the tournament. She was the top-scorer for the side in March, and was only surpassed by Alyssa Healy by the end of the tournament.

Former Ireland cricketer and member of the voting panel Clare Shillington was full of praise for Haynes' contributions, saying, "Rachael Haynes was the backbone of nearly every World Cup game for Australia, consistently set platforms for them to go on and set huge totals, or chase down any scores put up to them. She was paramount in them reaching the final."

"Rachael Haynes has been very consistent for Australia," said Sana Mir, former Pakistan captain and member of the voting panel.

"She set the tone for Australia with a big hundred in their first game of the tournament. Her contributions throughout the World Cup set the other batters to build on. Haynes is a quality batter and a leader in women’s game."