Ravichandran Ashwin, India's renowned off-spinner, was named one of four contenders for the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test Cricketer of the Year award on Tuesday. Ashwin took 52 wickets in 16 Test innings (as of December 28) and leads the list of bowlers with the most wickets in 2021.
In the previous year, the 35-year-old from Chennai took 52 wickets from eight Tests at an average of 16.23 and batted for 337 runs at 28.08 with one century.
Other nominees for the prestigious award were England skipper Joe Root, New Zealand pacer Kyle Jamieson, and Sri Lanka opener Dimuth Karunaratne.
"One of India's greatest match-winners in the longest format, R Ashwin again asserted his authority as one of the world's finest spinners in 2021. Apart from his wizardry with the ball, Ashwin also made invaluable contributions with the bat," the ICC said in a statement.
Ashwin goes above and beyond during the home series
Ashwin began the year on a strong note, striking a patient 128-ball 29 in the Sydney Test against Australia. His collaboration with Hanuma Vihari contributed to India's remarkable draw, which kept the series tied at 1-1.
He was named Player of the Series at home against England after taking 32 wickets in four matches at 14.72, while also scoring 189 runs with the bat.
On a seam-friendly track in Southampton, the off-spinner had also taken four wickets in the ICC World Test Championship Final against New Zealand.
After missing all four Tests in England, Ashwin shone strongly in the home series against New Zealand, taking 14 wickets in two matches at 11.36 and adding a couple of solid knocks in the Kanpur Test.
The ICC Awards 2021
The ICC Awards will include 13 individual recognitions as well as five Team of the Year selections for both men's and women's cricket across all formats.
“The nominees for each of the first seven categories will be announced from 28 December to 31 December,” ICC said.
Other individual categories comprise of Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for men’s Cricketer of the Year, Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy for Women’s Cricketer of the Year, men’s ODI Cricketer of the Year, women’s ODI Cricketer of the Year, men’s T20I Cricketer of the Year, women’s T20I Cricketer of the Year, Emerging men’s Cricketer of the Year, Emerging women’s Cricketer of the Year, Men’s Associate Cricketer of the Year, women’s Associate Cricketer of the Year, Spirit of Cricket Award and Umpire of the Year.
From the 28th to the 31st of December, the candidates for the first seven categories were announced.
Each of the seven categories will have a shortlist of four nominees comprised of players who have had the most credible performances over the time period under consideration - January 1st, 2021 to December 31st, 2021.
The nominees will be chosen by Geoff Allardice, the ICC's CEO, and an award panel consisting of notable cricket reporters and broadcasters from across the world.
Meanwhile, the ICC Team of the Year for each format will be determined by the Voting Academy via an online poll - each Voting Academy member will choose their teams in the batting order and suggest a captain from their selections for each format.
The winners of each category will be revealed in January.
On the 17th and 18th of January, the official ICC Team of the Years will be unveiled. The individual awards for women's cricket will be announced on January 23. The men's honors, as well as the Spirit of Cricket and Umpire of the Year awards, will be revealed on January 24.