Benn, Taylor claim the night as cricket salutes excellence

BY SHERDON COWAN Observer staff reporter

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

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JAMAICAN Stafanie Taylor and Barbadian Sulieman Benn were the toast of the West Indies Players' Association (WIPA)/ West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Annual Players' Awards Ceremony as they were named the region's male and female players of the year.

The event, hosted jointly by both entities for the third year, awarded cricketers who have performed exceptionally well at both the regional and international levels during the year of 2014.

Among the 12 awards handed out were two lifetime achievement awards, which saw Chetram Singh and Renford Pinnock being honoured by the WICB and WIPA, respectively. The event took place in exquisite settings in the Grand Jamaica Suite at the Jamaica Pegasus on Tuesday.

Taylor has been a major figure in the West Indies women's team since her debut in 2008, which has now resulted in her winning this prestigious award for the seventh-consecutive time.

The 23-year-old, who was nominated alongside Trinidad & Tobago's Anisa Mohammed and Barbadians Kycia Knight and Deandra Dottin, recollected the year that was as she revelled in the accolade.

"Last year was pretty simple. I started out with the national team in the regional tournament where we retained our title, and everything else went well from there. This award means a lot to me because it shows that over the years I have been working really hard and the determination and goal in mind is bearing fruit," said the all-rounder, who was also the first West Indian to win the ICC Female Cricketer of the Year award in 2011.

Meanwhile, Benn, the slow left-arm orthodox spinner who was nominated in four categories, was winning the award for the first time. However, the 33-year-old was not on hand and the award was collected on his behalf by compatriot Jason Holder.

Trinidad & Tobago's Denesh Ramdin and Samuel Badree were named West Indies one-day and Twenty20 players of the year, respectively, while young Barbadian Kraigg Brathwaite copped the award for Test player of the year.

Jermaine Blackwood upstaged countryman Sheldon Cotterell and Keon Peters of the Windward Island to be named emerging player of the year. Blackwood has figured prominently in the regional squad throughout last year after getting his Test career off to an aggressive start with a first ball six against New Zealand.

Another Jamaican, Shacaya Thomas, was named first-class four-day player of the year, while Lendl Simmons of Trinidad & Tobago and Dwayne Smith of Barbados copped the Caribbean Twenty20 and Limited Overs players of the year awards, respectively.

The first-class team of the year award went to Barbados, with Guyana being named the Under-19 team of the year. Shimran Hetmyer of Guyana took the Under-19 player of the year award, while Ronnie Goddard was specially recognised as the outstanding performer for WIPA in the community initiative.

The 'Sirs Club' was another special award on the night, which was created to honour those who have contributed significantly to the establishment of West Indies cricket. Those honoured were Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Wesley Hall, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Everton Weekes, Sir Andy Roberts, Sir Richard Richardson and Sir Curtly Ambrose.

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