Mumbai: India`s top batsman Virat Kohli on Monday won the Ceat International Cricketer of the Year award while off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, the fastest player from the country to pick 100 Test wickets, bagged the Indian Player of the Year award for 2013-14.
Left-handed opener Shikhar Dhawan was named the International Player of the Year while Robin Uthappa, who was part of the triumphant Karnataka Ranji Trophy team, clinched the Domestic Cricketer of the Year honour at a function held here tonight.
Kohli had won the best player award in 2011-12 too. India`s under-19 cricketer Vijay Zol got the Young Player of the Year award while yesteryear stumper Syed Kirmani, one of the finest behind the stumps who was also part of the 1983 World Cup winning team, was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Kirmani played in 88 Tests and 49 ODIs.
Australian Mitchell Johnson, who was instrumental in his country winning the Ashes Series in overwhelming fashion against England at home, and compatriot Glenn Maxwell received the Test Player of the Year and Popular Choice awards respectively, while Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan got the T20 Player of the award.
"It`s good to see an Indian (Kohli) win the main award again and that he has won it for the second time at such a young age should inspire other youngsters also to win the coveted award," said former India skipper and chief adjudicator of Ceat Cricket Rating, Sunil Gavaskar.
"It`s also wonderful to see Syed Kirmani being recognised for his tremendous service to Indian cricket. He is, without doubt, one of India`s all-time greats," said Gavaskar in a tribute to his former teammate.
He also noted that the awards had reached its 19th year of existence after being given away for the first time in 1995.
VVS Laxman, after giving the award to Ashwin, noted that when he first saw Ashwin in a Duleep Trophy game in 2007 he never thought the lanky Chennai bowler would go on to play Test cricket for India. "I thought him as a one day bowler, but he improved as a bowler, increased his variations. He's a smart man and he has 4-5 variations, but the important thing is when to use them. Sometimes that goes against him," said the former Test batsman.
Ashwin, asked by compeer and former Pakistan batsman Ramiz Raja why off spinners like him tended to bowl round the wicket to right handed batsmen, said it was primarily to create doubts. "Nowadays the batsmen play right as well as right handed with the switch hits and reverse sweeps etc. They play 360 degrees and bowling round the wicket, I feel, creates some doubt as it brings in a new angle (into the picture)," he said.
Ashwin said the same on why he sometimes stopped before delivering the ball. "It's all about creating doubt (in batsman's mind). Some batsmen come hard at you. But I have not used this (stop and bowl) for quite some time now," he said about a tactic he has used in the past and got criticised by experts.
Ashwin said he was a big fan of Shane Warne's bowling and called the great Australian leggie a "master strategist".
"I have also talked to (Sri Lankan) Muttiah Muralitharan," he said at his acceptance speech. Utthappa, after receiving the award, said he was on the right track after becoming the highest scorer in IPL7 with ten scores of 40 and above.
"I think it wouldn't have been so sweet if we hadn't won (the IPL title). In one game we lost six wickets for two runs and each of us was hurt after that," he said.
He also praised domestic cricket for its intensity. "We play a game every week and also travel. It can be pretty challenging. It takes a lot to play well consistently at that level which is one step below international cricket," he said.