COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- For the second year in a row, a West Indian spin bowler has won the International Cricket Council’s Emerging Cricketer of the Year award. Sunil Narine, the off-spinner who has made a huge impression since joining the Windies set-up last December, won the prize on Saturday night at the ICC Awards gala at the Water’s Edge Resort.
The 24-year-old from Trinidad and Tobago was all smiles as he received the award in front an audience which included several present players and former cricketing greats, including Brian Lara. Narine follows in the footsteps of leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo who won the Award at last year’s event in London.
Speaking after receiving his glittering trophy, Narine said it was the just the start of things to come.
“I would say this is just the start. As Emerging Player of the Year I know I am someone to look at and hopefully I will continue to do well. I’ve enjoyed my first year in the West Indies team and I am delighted to win this award. I’ve worked hard and I’ve dedicated myself to the game. It makes me look at life and makes me want to dedicate myself more to the game and to improve,” Narine said.
“We have a good junior set-up so hopefully the awards keep coming for us. I think this has been the best 12 months for me and I just keep adapting as best as possible.”
Narine, who first started by playing tennis-ball cricket, was introduced into the West Indies ODI side last December and made his debut in a win against India at Ahmedabad. He has played for the West Indies in all three formats of the game. In three Test appearances he has 12 wickets at an average 31.50, while in the 15 ODIs he played he claimed 28 wickets at an average of 18.82.
He has been equally impressive in the T20 format with seven wickets in five appearances for the Windies. His economy rate is a mere 6.4 runs per over and he has become one of the toughest bowlers to score off. He showcased his brilliance for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League and won the Most Valuable Player award as his team won the title.
Narine, who hails from Arima in Trinidad, was the top choice of the 32-person voting academy, coming out ahead of Sri Lanka’s Dinesh Chandimal, Doug Bracewell of New Zealand and Australia’s James Pattinson.
He also took the time to thank his father Shaheed, who he said has been a huge inspiration and his biggest supporter.
“He played a big part in my development... in my life. Around the age of 19 ...20 I was kind of looking away from cricket and looking at what else I could do in life. I was a bit frustrated. I played West Indies Under-19 but I was ‘just there’ and I found it difficult to make the Trinidad and Tobago team with the likes Sherwin Ganga, Dave Mohammed and Amit Jaggernauth. He said ‘don’t worry, your time will come... keep working’,” Narine said.
“It was very hard to command a place in the team and I was becoming quite frustrated, but my dad ... what could I say ... he just kept sticking with me, he carried me through everything, he made sure everything was OK with me and I’m reaping the benefits now.”
Narine added: “I also want to thank my team-mates and the management staff of the West Indies team who have been very helpful and always offer great advice. I play alongside some great guys and the support you get gives you the drive to do even better.”
Narine and his West Indies team-mates will continue their preparations for the ICC World T20 tournament on Sunday with a training session at the P Sara Oval at 2 pm. On Monday they will have their second warm-up match against Afghanistan at P Sara Oval at 2:30 pm.
The ICC World T20 tournament, which features 12 teams, will be played from September 18 to October 7. The West Indies have been drawn in Group B alongside Australia and Ireland and both first round matches will be at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. Their opening match will be against the Aussies on Saturday, September 22 followed by a clash with the Irish on Monday, September 24.