New Delhi: The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) announced on Monday that Nepal’s Aasif sheikh was named winner of the 2022 Christopher martin-Jenkins Spirit of Cricket Award.
Wicketkeeper-batter Aasif has been recognised with this award, which the Club runs in conjunction with BBC, for his sporting conduct shown in Nepal’s T20I against Ireland in February 2022.
In that match, Ireland were put in to bat first but Nepal had the scoring rate on a leash by picking up regular wickets. At 113/8 at the end of 18 overs, they needed a late flourish with the bat to post a fighting total on the scoreboard.
Kamal Singh Airee was tasked with bowling the 19th over. Off the third ball, Mark Adair went for a big heave over the leg side but the ball hit his leg and dropped towards the leg side. The bowler, in his attempt to retrieve the ball, collided with non-striker Andy McBrine, as a result of which the Irish batter tripped and fell halfway on the pitch.
Airee quickly got to the ball and threw it to Aasif, at which point McBrine got back up but was well short of his crease. However, Aasif decided not to whip the bails off and let the batters complete a run, a gesture that received widespread recognition across the cricketing fraternity. Ireland ended up posting 127 and Nepal fell 17 runs short as they were bowled out for 111.
“This feels surreal. The CMJ Spirit of Cricket Award is an honour and to receive it, I am simply grateful. My parents raised me to be humble and kind in all contexts, my coaches taught me what true team play is and my teammates who keep encouraging me to do my best are equally a part of this success.”
“Regardless of the result, we always strive to play fairly, respect everyone on and off the field, and give it our all. The moment itself was a spontaneous decision on my/our part not to take the wicket because it would have been unfair to the opponent.”
“We wouldn’t be pleased if our team had got the wicket in that manner, since it would be against our culture and the spirit of sportsmanship. They say that cricket is a game of gentlemen and I believe the Spirit of Cricket Award truly signifies that. Thank you MCC,” said Aasif on getting the honour.
MCC also said Aasif will be officially presented with the CMJ Spirit of Cricket Award later this year. He was also awarded with the ICC Spirit of Cricket Award for his actions in January earlier this year.
“We were thrilled to be able to throw this important award open to public nominations in 2022 and it was no surprise that Aasif Sheikh’s act of selflessness was amongst the entries. For a young player, and indeed captain, to display an act of sportsmanship such as this in a form of cricket where every single run can make a difference is exactly why we talk about the spirit of the game, and this award is thoroughly deserved,” said Jamie Cox, Director of Cricket and Operations.
MCC and BBC also highly commended two other individuals who were nominated during the process. England white-ball captain Jos Buttler refused to appeal for obstructing the field when Australia’s Matthew Wade top-edged a Mark Wood delivery, with the batter blocking the bowler’s attempt to make the catch in the Men’s T20I between the teams in Perth in October 2022.
Ben Stokes has also been commended for his captaincy of the England Men’s Test team, for playing attacking and entertaining cricket. Stokes also donated his match fees from the Pakistan series to the country’s flood appeal and ensured young newcomer, leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed featured prominently in the trophy presentation when England won the Test series 3-0 last year.