Very special to be named South Africa’s Men’s Cricketer of the Year: Keshav Maharaj

JOHANNESBURG: Left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj said it felt very special for him to be adjudged the men’s cricketer of the year in 2021-22. Cricket The South Africa (CSA) awards ceremony was held virtually.

In the last 12 months, Maharaj cemented his position as an all-format player, playing 13 ODIs, eight T20Is and as many Test matches, taking 51 wickets. The 32-year-old made his T20 International and captaincy debut on the tour of Sri Lanka last year. After taking his maiden T20I wicket off his very first ball, Maharaj joined the ICC Men’s T20I World Cup in UAE.

In Tests, Maharaj started off well by becoming the second South African bowler and the first spinner to take a hat-trick with successive dismissals of Kieran Powell, Jason Holder and Joshua da Silva in the second match against West Indies in Darien. Sammy Cricket Ground. He then finished the season with exceptional figures of 7–32 in the first Test against Bangladesh at his home ground, Durban.

“Wow, I almost cried when I heard about it. It’s probably one of the humbling but highest moments of my career. I mean you dream of playing for South Africa, never think that You will get there and then you get the opportunity to be named as the South African Men’s Cricketer of the Year, it’s very special.

“I am truly honored and privileged to receive this award and I hope to continue from strength to strength and keep raising the bar and helping the team reach number one in all formats of the game.” I will help and hopefully win our first World Cup,” said Maharaj.

Besides Maharaj, women’s fast bowler Ayabonga Khaka was also voted the Women’s Cricketer of the Year. Incidentally, both players were also recipients of the Players’ Player of the Year award.

Ayabonga was rewarded for a stellar season with the ball after taking a total of 31 wickets across formats, playing a key role in the all-round bowling attack for the Proteas women in 18 ODIs and three T20Is. He started his season in September last year with a nine-wicket haul in the West Indies as South Africa won both the ODI and T20I series.

In the Reverse Tour held in Johannesburg in early 2022, Ayabonga achieved his first career five-wicket haul before ending with a series-leading 10-wicket haul as South Africa won the four-match ODI series.

“I am humbled and honored to be named Player of the Year. Especially when everyone has had a great season. It means a lot to me because it (Players Player of the Year) is an award that I get from my teammates. I would like to thank them very much for recognizing my contribution to our team. Thank you to all my coaches and their efforts to help me advance my game,” Ayabonga said.

She then made her debut at the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand, becoming only the fifth South African woman to take 100 ODI wickets in the first match of the tournament against Bangladesh. South Africa ended their World Cup campaign in the semi-finals, with Ayabonga taking 12 wickets and finishing sixth on the wicket-takers’ list.

“Their work goes unnoticed. Thanks to my family for supporting me no matter what. I also want to thank my teammates for the support they have given me, not to highlight my contribution.” Had it not been for him. I want to thank all the cricket fans for their support. I ask them to continue tomorrow and never stop,” Ayabonga concluded.

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