INDIA: Indian women’s cricket team’s veteran opening batter Smriti Mandhana has won the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy for ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year 2021. She has won this award for the second time after 2018. No other member of the Indian men’s or women’s cricket team could manage to win any of ICC’s awards this year.
The left-handed opener scored 855 runs in 22 innings at an average of 38.86 with one century & five half-centuries. Her breakthrough came out at Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast, as she smashed a hundred against Aussies in a historic pink ball test match, away from home, eventually becoming the first Indian woman cricketer to score a century in a pink ball test match. She scored 127 runs off 216 balls.
Reacting to her achievement, Mandhana stated, “I am truly honored for receiving the prestigious Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy for the ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year 2021. I am grateful to my teammates, my coaches, my family, friends and fans who believed in my potential and supported me in this journey.”
“Recognition of such a 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,” she added.
Mandhana has beaten Tammy Beaumont of England, Lizelle Lee of South Africa & Gaby Lewis of Ireland to clinch the crown.
However, the last couple of years were not easy for the Indian Women’s Cricket Team as they had to stay home for about a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, after playing the final of women’s T20 World Cup against Australia at MCG, on March 8, 2020, women’s day. India lost the final by a large margin of 85 runs. After 364 days, on March 7, 2021, Indian women played the first ODI match of the series, against South African women.
India lost that ODI series & T20I series too, on their home soil. Whereas, during this time, the Indian men’s cricket team played against Australia & other teams, which happened to create heavy backlash at BCCI. Despite India enduring these difficult times, Mandhana continued to have a successful run across the year.
Besides the past, India along with their T20I vice-captain Mandhana will play a bilateral 5-match ODI series & one-off T20I against New Zealand before, facing Pakistan on March 6, in the Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022, New Zealand.