Smriti Mandhana has won the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy for being the ICC’s Women’s Cricketer of the Year 2021. She becomes only the second player, after Australia allrounder Ellyse Perry, to win the highest individual distinction in the women’s overall category of the annual ICC awards more than once.
Mandhana, who was named ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year and ODI Cricketer of the Year in 2018, pipped fellow opening batters Beaumont, Lizelle Lee of South Africa, and Gaby Lewis of Ireland to the honour. Jhulan Goswami, who won the same award in 2007, is the only other Indian woman to ever win an ICC annual award.
Commenting on receiving the honour Mandhana told ICC: “I am truly honoured for receiving the prestigious Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy for the ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year 2021. I am grateful to my team-mates, my coaches, my family, friends and fans who believed in my potential and supported me in this journey.
“A recognition of such high class from the global governing body of cricket in an exceptional and difficult year will motivate me to continue to better my game and contribute to Team India’s success going forward. I look forward to 2022 with a clear focus on winning the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 in New Zealand as we continue to prepare as a team and unit.”
In 2021, since India’s return to the field on March 7 following a 364-day absence from the international scene – primarily because of the Covid-19 pandemic but also the BCCI’s inability to schedule games for them even as the Indian men’s team got its share of fixtures – Mandhana scored 855 runs in 22 international matches across three series, at an average of 38.86, hitting one century and five half-centuries along the way. The crowning piece in her run tally was a Player-of-the-Match-winning maiden hundred in the longest format – 127 against Australia at Gold Coast – in what was India’s maiden women’s day-night Test.
In 2018, Mandhana had finished atop the run chart in women’s ODIs with 669 runs at an average of 66.90 and was the third-highest scorer in T20Is with 622 runs at a strike rate of 130.67.
The ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year award, instituted in 2006, was named after Rachael Heyhoe-Flint, the former England Women’s Test cricketer and administrator, in 2017 upon the reintroduction of the category. Perry won the honour in 2017 and 2019 and took home the ICC Women’s Player of the Decade award in 2020.
Lizelle Lee named ICC Women’s ODI cricketer of the year
South Africa batter Lizelle Lee has been named the ICC women’s ODI cricketer of the year, following a stellar 2021 in which she ended as the leading run-scorer in the format.
Lee, the top-ranked batter in the world, scored 632 runs in 11 matches at an average of 90.28, including one century and five half-centuries. She played a pivotal role in the ODI series against India last March, making 288 runs, as South Africa sealed a 4-1 win. During the third match of that series, in Lucknow, she made her highest individual score, blasting an unbeaten 132 to help the team to a narrow win. She was eventually named the Player of the Series.
Lee carried her fine form into the tour of West Indies, where she was once again the leading run-scorer, finishing the ODI leg with 248 runs in four matches at an average of 124.
“This award means a lot to me, I didn’t expect it,” Lee said. “It’s an honour to just be nominated, so this feels amazing. There are so many people to give credit to – my parents and my wife have been my biggest source of support, but also my team-mates.
“There are a few innings that stand out, but I’d rank the ones against India and my 90-something against West Indies in tough conditions as one of the best.”