India’s King Kohli crowned ICC cricketer of the year

Virat Kohli was also crowned the world’s best one-day batsman, winning that title for the second time since 2012. (AFP)
Updated 18 January 2018
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India’s King Kohli crowned ICC cricketer of the year

NEW DELHI: Virat Kohli on Thursday was crowned cricketer of the year by the sport’s world governing body, capping off a strong innings for the Indian skipper across all three formats of the game.
Australian captain Steve Smith was named Test player of the year as the International Cricket Council unveiled its annual awards.
Kohli is just the fourth Indian to win the prestigious Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy, following in the footsteps of batting greats Sachin Tendulkar (2010), Rahul Dravid (2004) and teammate Ravichandran Ashwin (2016).
“It’s the first time winning the Garfield Sobers Trophy, and it’s a huge honor for me,” Kohli said in a statement.
“It’s probably the biggest of all in world cricket and two Indians getting it back-to-back makes it more special.”
Kohli was also crowned the world’s best one-day batsman, winning that title for the second time since 2012.
During the voting period from 21 September 2016 to end-2017, Kohli scored 2,203 Test runs at an average of 77.80 including eight centuries.
He accumulated 1,818 runs in the one-day format including seven centuries.
The 29-year-old was also bestowed a rare honor — selected to captain the ICC’s Test and ODI sides, a team in name only that comprises the best players from around the globe.
India emerged as the world’s best Test side in 2017 under Kohli, with an unbroken series winning streak at home. He also leads the ODI and Twenty20 teams for the subcontinent.
But it has not always been smooth sailing for Kohli, whose men were defeated 2-0 in a Test series against South Africa that wrapped up Wednesday, prompting criticism about his team selection and India’s poor Test record away from home.
Smith meanwhile, who sits atop the Test batting chart, had little competition this time around for the prize he also won in 2015.
The Australian captain played 16 Tests during the 15-month voting period, scoring 1,875 runs at an average of 78.12, with eight hundreds and five half-centuries.
“I’ve had a really good year. I think I’ve scored six hundreds in the year and more importantly led the team to an Ashes victory, which is something that is really important to me,” said Smith.
“I am incredibly humbled and I love playing Test cricket. It’s the game that challenges your skills and your mind the most.”
The Australians have taken home the award in four of the last five years, with Mitchell Johnson winning in 2014 and Michael Clarke in 2013.
Indian leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal won international Twenty20 performance of the year for his incredible haul of 6-25 against England at Bangalore last February.
Pakistan paceman Hasan Ali was named emerging player of the year, while Afghanistan’s spin sensation Rashid Khan took home the associate cricketer of the year trophy.
The 19-year-old Khan made his international presence felt after bagging a lucrative Indian Premier League contract last year along with teammate Mohammad Nabi.


Benevolence, not bluster: How ‘Brand Salah’ bucks the trend

Updated 24 May 2018
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Benevolence, not bluster: How ‘Brand Salah’ bucks the trend

  • Mohamed Salah lines up for Liverpool in the Champions League final against Real Madrid on Saturday
  • Mohamed Salah has been unveiled as DHL’s new brand ambassador for the MENA region

LONDON: On Saturday Mohamed Salah will line up for Liverpool in the Champions League final against Real Madrid.
He will do so not only with the every member of the Red army behind him, but also the entire Arab world.
That is testament to his stratospheric rise — over the past nine months the Egyptian ace has gone from being a very good player, but one deemed as needing to justify his $52 million transfer fee, to a global superstar and cultural phenomenon.
As with any sporting star, with the adulation and attention comes potential pitfalls and, invariably, a new lexicon. So it was not surprising to hear the 25-year-old speak of “his brand” when he was unveiled as DHL’s new brand ambassador for the MENA region on Wednesday. Stars becoming brands is almost cliche now and one that Salah has clearly taken on board — he now has even his own logo.
“We are proud of him. Over the past two years, no has done what he has done. He has proved himself as one of the best and we wanted to deal with no one else, just him,” CEO of DHL in the Middle East and North Africa, Nour Suliman, said. “He is competing on another level and is the star of the Arab world. No one in the Arab world has done what he is doing. We are very proud to have him.”
Those types of corporate events, where a big multinational signs a deal with the latest big, young thing, lend themselves to the odd dollop of hyperbole. But there is little doubting the impact Salah has had on the pitch for Liverpool and Egypt, and off it in becoming a true Arab icon. And his utterance of the word “brand” is where Salah as a walking cliche begins and ends.
Every year in Egypt ahead of Ramadan the best dates are named after the most popular person in the country — the man or woman revered by the nation at that moment. In the past, the staple food of the holy month has tended to be named after political leaders.
This year there was no competition: The most succulent date has been named after Salah. At the DHL press conference he was presented with a packet of dates emblazoned with his face and name.
It said much about the man that he both looked and confessed to being “embarrassed.”
This week the British Museum in London displayed Salah’s green football boots as part of its Modern Egypt exhibition. And in a documentary about the player broadcast in the UK, he was credited with increasing attendances at England’s oldest mosque in Liverpool and improving the image of Islam by Dr. Abdul Hamid, a trustee at the mosque.
So while the signing of big deals hints he is very much the modern-day footballing superstar, everything else off the pitch suggests something else.
Salah is on social media, but does not, like many sports stars, live on it; he knows he is a hero for many, but pays more than mere lip service to his position as a role model; and he embraces attention (of both opposition defenders and fans) rather than seemingly getting annoyed by it if things are not going his way.
“I am not heavy into social media, I am on it and aware of it, but I don’t follow it that closely. It does not influence me,” he said.
“I am aware young people look up to me and I feel great that they do and that I can influence a young footballer to play better or train harder, or do better; that that makes me proud.”
This season Salah has done what few footballers have done before, transcend the game, and he has done so in a way characterized by benevolence rather than bluster.
Against Real Madrid he can again illustrate just what a talent he is — and if he does lead Liverpool to their sixth European Cup triumph, you get the feeling he will not let the adulation go to his head.