Many pundits and ex-players have criticised the decision to award David Warner the Player of the Tournament award at the T20 World Cup, with Babar Azam, the competition’s leading run scorer, going unrewarded.
Babar’s campaign ended at the hands of Warner’s Australia at the semi-final stage, but he had already had a tournament to remember. An unbeaten half-century in Pakistan’s opener sealed an historic 10-wicket win against India, Pakistan’s first over their fierce rivals at any World Cup.
He added three more fifties, meaning he sits tied with Matthew Hayden and Virat Kohli for the most half-centuries at a T20 World Cup, while only Kohli and Tillakaratne Dilshan have scored more runs at a single edition.
Warner scored 14 runs fewer than Babar, and only managed three half-centuries, falling one run short of the landmark against Pakistan. But he maintained a significantly higher strike-rate, more than 20 runs per 100 balls higher than the Pakistan opener, and arguably made his runs at more high-impact intervals. Australia’s group was hotly contested, with three teams ending tied on four wins, and Warner scoring big in the final group game and the two knockouts. Babar, meanwhile, made 136 of his runs against Associate nations Namibia and Scotland.
Former Pakistan quick Shoaib Akhtar called the decision “unfair”.
Was really looking forward to see @babarazam258 becoming Man of the Tournament. Unfair decision for sure.
— Shoaib Akhtar (@shoaib100mph) November 14, 2021
West Indies’ Sherfane Rutherford said he was “shocked” at the “tired decision”, showing those boosting Babar weren’t merely parochial.
— Sherfane Rutherford (@SRutherford_50) November 14, 2021
Some pointed to Kohli’s Player of the Tournament win in 2016 as evidence that Babar should have been rewarded, with the Indian also knocked out in the semi-final, like Babar.
Leading run-scorers in Men's T20 world cup 2021 –
Babar Azam: 303
David Warner: 289
Virat Kohli in 2016 has scored something 320 runs, and yet he won the player of the tournament award due to BCCI tax. But Babar is a 🇵🇰i.
Still you are my man of the tournament, Babar Azam ❤️ pic.twitter.com/eGXd3TgG0s
— KH SAKIB 🇧🇩 (@Crickettalks91) November 14, 2021
There were several attempts to get tweets going viral questioning the decision.
Retweet if you think Babar Azam lost Man of the Tournament Award due to BCCI bias.
— Waqas Amjad ( محترم ) (@waqas_amjaad) November 14, 2021
However, others felt the decision was a fair one.
Babar Azam scored consistently and ended up topscorer in #T20WorldCup but lets be fair. David Warner scored match winning knocks for Australia in both the matches of knockout stage! Just remained a scratch behind Babar Azam in most runs. Warner earned man of the tournament trophy
— Arfa Feroz Zake (@ArfaSays_) November 14, 2021
Aaron Finch, Australia captain, also disagreed with the choice of Player of the Tournament, but said that leg-spinner Adam Zampa was who should have won the gong. Babar was not named in Wisden’s T20 World Cup team of the tournament, with Warner and Jos Buttler named as the openers in that XI.