From blenders to land plots: Cricket’s weirdest post-match player awards
@ovshake42 5 minute read
Some cricketing awards involve money, others offer a grand or perhaps bizarre trophy. Some, as Abhishek Mukherjee explores, are not quite as mainstream.
The concept of rewarding cricketers at international level almost certainly began in the 1968 Ashes. Every Test match had a ‘Batsman of the Match’ and ‘Bowler of the Match’ for each side. After the five Test matches in that series, the Player of the Series and the Fielder of the Series were named as well.
As sponsors came into the picture, the awards increased. However, not every award has been conventional.
A dictionary entry
In 1858, the All-England XI were playing a 22-strong Hallam team at Hyde Park in Sheffield. After the match, a contribution was raised for HH Stephenson, the outstanding professional who took 10-27 in the fourth innings including three wickets with consecutive balls. Stephenson was presented with a hat bought from the proceeds.
The 1999 edition of the Extended Oxford English Dictionary credits the award and the ‘trick’ for the term ‘hat-trick’.
Against England at the Bombay Gymkhana in 1933/34, Lala Amarnath became the first Indian to score a Test match hundred. Strangers hugged each other, then rushed on to the ground to garland the hero. When he returned to the pavilion at the end of the day’s cricket, the women in the enclosure showered him with their jewellery.
India beat South Africa in the final of the 1996 Titan Cup (which also featured Australia), but all eyes were on Allan Donald, the ‘Titan of the Titans’. The two gold watches and a set of jewellery were unusually expensive in the pre-IPL era.
The greying, bespectacled David Steele became the pride of England after his debut series. He was named the BBC Sports Personality of the Year as well as a Wisden Cricketer of the Year, a £4,000 gift, a “let him take what he wants offer” at an apparel store, and much more.
But perhaps the most spectacular of them came from a Harry, a local butcher – a lamb chop for every run until fifty, and a steak for every run after that. He finished the season with 1,756 chops, and was sorted for three years. Not bad for a man whose thriftiness earned him the nickname ‘crime’ (does not pay).
Perhaps drawing inspiration, a butcher offered Derek Randall 174 pork chops, one for every run he made at the 1976/77 Centenary Test match in Melbourne.
A goat was kept tied outside the ground during a five-over cricket tournament in Palghar, Maharashtra in 2017, and was subsequently awarded to the winning side, to avoid controversies that typically surround cash prizes. The runners-up won five roosters, which they had some difficulty taking home.
In addition, everyone who hit a four or a six got a boiled egg, as did every spectator who held a catch. When players and spectators sat down together for lunch, these ovoidal gifts were shared with willingly shared.
Whether fish qualifies as meat is a debate better left to taxonomists. However, a fish was indeed rewarded to the Player of the Match in a cricket tournament in Kashmir.
Recently, in a cricket match at Tekipora Kupwara, a 2.5 Kg fish was given as Man of the Match award. #CricketDhamaka#ESPN #IPL2020 #kashmircricket pic.twitter.com/fQ7VAJ7Gvb
— Firdous Hassan (@FirdousHassan) September 21, 2020
England racked up 335-9 at Dunedin in 2016/17 and reduced New Zealand to 2-2, but Ross Taylor strode out on his birthday eve to slam 181 not out in 147 balls to guide the hosts to a reasonably comfortable win. Sure enough, a birthday gift awaited him from a not-too-expected source.
Happy birthday @RossLTaylor! The Colonel wants to celebrate that PB with you the best way he knows how… with $181 of Chicken Dollars 🍗💸 send us a DM so we can get the vouchers to you!
— KFC New Zealand (@kfcnz) March 7, 2018
Surely not? What can go wrong with a magnum of champagne? For the 1990 Old Trafford Test match, the oddity lay not in the award but the recipient – a boy who had just scored his maiden Test hundred. You see, Sachin Tendulkar was only 17, and was not legally allowed to drink.
He finally uncorked it in 1998, to celebrate his daughter’s first birthday.
South Africa began their 2003 tour of the British Isles with a Viking One Day Challenge match against Ireland, where Makhaya Ntini was named Player of the Match for his 3-21. The lawnmower he was rewarded with brought out the famous Ntini smile.
When Makhaya Ntini won a lawnmower for his MOM performance against Ireland at Clontarf in 2003. https://t.co/Ir71rwB4c1 pic.twitter.com/tQZljXg85T
— Barry Chambers (@irishcricket1) February 10, 2021
Over the years, the image of Luke Wright winning a blender for his performance in a 2013 Dhaka Premier League match for the Abahani Limited has evolved into a Twitter cult classic. The expressions – on Wright’s face as well as the official’s – the handshake, and the perennial questions over the blender’s compatibility in the UK, all added to the effect.
Not as well-known is Eoin Morgan’s rice cooker from the same edition of the tournament. Morgan’s response (“I am very happy and it will allow me to have lot more rice”) could not make up for the lack of a viral photograph.
Warner Park in Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis hosted the six matches in Group A of the 2007 World Cup. In the second of these, Herschelle Gibbs became the first cricketer to hit six sixes in an over in international cricket, off Daan van Bunge of the Netherlands. In the sixth, Matthew Hayden blazed away to a hundred in 66 balls, at that point the fastest in World Cup history.
Both men were named Players of the Match – but that was not all. Both of them were awarded honorary citizenships by the Saint Kitts and Nevis government.
In 2017, the Caribbean Premier League announced a slightly unconventional reward for the Player of the Match – a hamper of snacks from the sponsor. While undoubtedly scrumptious, the choice of award is slightly questionable in an era when fitness is priority for most athletes.
In the semi-final it was Darren Bravo that won Sunshine Snacks Power Shot of the Day. Who is going to win the prize in the final? #CPLFinal pic.twitter.com/hsmw3Lfoh1
— CPL T20 (@CPL) September 10, 2017
Jhye Richardson won the Player of the Match award for his 4-26 against India in Sydney in 2018/19, and got a bat grip and shoelaces. While cricketers need gear – even in an age when there is no dearth of sponsors, particularly in countries with the richer boards – it was a curious choice.
As the price of petrol skyrocketed in India, the organisers of a cricket tournament in Bhopal announced an award of five litres of petrol for the Player of the Match in the final. It went to one Salahuddin Abbasi.
Land (and phone)
Rashid Khan’s 4-0-14-2 helped the Lahore Qalandars beat the Quetta Gladiators at the 2023 PSL, and earned him an iPhone 14. Yet, that paled in front of what awaited Sikandar Raza, who won the Player of the Match for his 34-ball 71 not out. Raza won a plot of land in Pakistan, the country of his birth.
New iPhone 14 Winner – Qalandars City Plot – Another Prize added for Players #LQvQG #HBLPSL8 #sochnabemanahai #qalandarhum #QalandarsCity pic.twitter.com/z2g49w58tg
— Lahore Qalandars (@lahoreqalandars) March 3, 2023
The Meta award
Winning an award is fine. Winning three, even better. But winning an award for winning an award? Well, what Raza won was technically a bet with his captain Craig Ervine. Ahead of the 2022 T20 World Cup, Raza and Ervine had decided that each would gift the other person a watch of the recipient’s choice for every Player of the Match award they won.
Raza won three. Ervine, none. He did pose, though.
Here’s a man sticking to his word! Captain Slug buying @SRazaB24 his 3 watches after his superb World Cup campaign pic.twitter.com/2qgq9acptQ
— Ryan Burl (@ryanburl3) November 10, 2022
When Denis Compton was posted to Mhow during the Second World War, CK Nayudu seized the opportunity to recruit him to play Ranji Trophy for Holkar. In the 1944/45 final, Bombay set an absurd target of 867, and Holkar were 177-2 after the fifth day of the timeless match.
Compton was approached by Hiralal Seth, a local businessman, after the day’s play: “For every single run you make after passing your century I will give you a hundred rupees.” Compton, 55 overnight, went on to make 249 not out as Holkar were bowled out for 492.
On his way back to the pavilion, an elated Compton estimated his potential earnings to about £1,300. All he received was a note: “Sorry, have been called to Calcutta on very urgent business.”