The Spin | The top women’s cricket team of the year: featuring Tammy Beaumont and Beth Mooney
This year has seen plenty of excitement in women’s cricket, with events such as the T20 World Cup in South Africa, the inaugural Women’s Premier League in India, and the largest Women’s Ashes series ever. In addition, there have been three Tests played, a rare occurrence in women’s cricket since 2014.
However, it can be argued that white-ball cricket remains the dominant form. Therefore, although The Spin places great emphasis on Test performances (as we believe our readers do as well), this team once again consists of players who excel in all formats.
Hayley Matthews, the captain of the West Indies cricket team, had a tough few years but finally made a name for herself in the 2016 T20 World Cup final. In the match against Australia in October, she scored 132 runs from just 64 balls, leading her team to a rare victory on Australian soil. Throughout the three-match T20 series, Matthews had an impressive strike rate of 174 and scored a total of 310 runs. Despite suffering from a quad injury, she managed to score 79 runs in the final match. She was also named Player of the Tournament at the first-ever Women’s Premier League and received eight consecutive Player-of-the-Match awards in T20Is from July to October. To top it off, she even took a hat-trick against Ireland in July. What a remarkable year for Matthews!
Tammy Beaumont from England made a significant achievement at Trent Bridge in June. She became the first English player to score a double century in a women’s Test. Her performance showcased her incredible patience and skill. However, she has also proven her ability to be aggressive and dominate the game when she scored 118 runs from 61 balls for Welsh Fire in August, setting the record for the highest individual score in The Hundred. Despite her impressive performances, she has not been included in England’s T20 team, which is puzzling. Hopefully, by 2024, the selectors will realize their mistake and include her in the team.
3) Chamari Athapaththu (Sri Lanka) The joy on Athapaththu’s face as her team achieved their first T20 series victory against England in September was heartwarming. While England is a well-funded and professional team, Sri Lanka has faced challenges during the Covid pandemic and has had to fight for resources. This win against England, along with their previous historic ODI series win against New Zealand, finally gave recognition to their courageous captain who consistently leads the team with her performance on both the batting and bowling fronts.
Nat Sciver-Brunt from England received high praise from coach Jon Lewis who described her as an elevating force for the team. In September, she impressed with an incredible 120 runs off 74 balls against Sri Lanka, solidifying her crucial role in England’s line-up. She was the top scorer in the T20 World Cup and scored consecutive centuries in the Ashes series in July. She was also the only batter to perform well in their recent loss against India in the Test match. It is no surprise that she was one of the most sought-after overseas players in the February WPL auction, with Mumbai Indians offering a record-breaking bid of £320,000 for her services.
Beth Mooney from Australia has maintained her impressive form as a consistent scorer, leading the WBBL in runs with a total of 557. She also had a strong performance in the World Cup, averaging 52 and delivering crucial half-centuries in both the semi-final and final matches. Her composure on the field has become her trademark, and she has also proven to be a skilled wicketkeeper, earning her a spot on The Spin XI team.
Ash Gardner from Australia had an impressive performance in 2023, taking a total of 58 wickets in all formats. This set a record for the most wickets ever taken by a woman in a single calendar year. In June, she also achieved the best figures by an Australian in women’s Tests, taking 12 wickets in the Ashes Test. Despite England’s belief that the pitch would not favor spin, Gardner proved them wrong with her eight for 66 in the fourth innings, leading Australia to their first Test win since 2015.
Sophie Ecclestone from England is undeniably the top bowler in the world, as evidenced by her performance in various measures such as being ranked no. 1 in ODIs and T20s by the ICC, being a joint leading wicket-taker in the inaugural WPL, and having the most number of wickets in the World Cup. She displayed an outstanding effort in the Ashes Test, bowling a remarkable 77.1 overs and achieving match figures of 10 for 192. However, she had to undergo shoulder surgery in September and her performance was not as impressive in England’s recent series against India. Hopefully, she will return to her peak form in 2024.
Deepti Sharma of India was expected to have a lackluster year in 2023. However, she surprised everyone with a remarkable bowling performance in the one-off Test against England. In just 33 balls on the second day, she took five wickets for only seven runs. She continued her impressive form in the second innings, taking four more wickets. England was left stunned by her exceptional performance.
Pooja Vastrakar, a cricketer from India, had not participated in a home Test before this year. However, she now has two under her belt and is eager for more opportunities. Her bowling abilities are well-suited for the format, as seen by her impressive performance in both Tests where she took nine wickets. She even managed to dismiss top batters Nat Sciver-Brunt and Ellyse Perry with her skilled late nip-backers that showcased her ability to move the ball through the air. Despite usually batting at No 9, she is also a valuable asset with the bat, as demonstrated by her unbeaten score of 62 off just 46 balls in the final match of the year against Australia, helping India achieve their highest ODI total against them.
Lea Tahuhu, a player from New Zealand, defied the New Zealand selectors throughout the year. Despite being dropped from their contract list in May 2022, the 33-year-old proved her skills and has made them regret their decision. She has been impressive in both the 50-over and 20-over formats, and was the top wicket-taker for New Zealand in 2023. As of July, she has reached No. 6 in the ICC’s T20 bowling rankings. Let’s hope her late-career revival continues.
Nonkululeko Mlaba from South Africa may not have the same level of recognition as her teammates, but the 23-year-old left-arm spinner stood out in the 2023 season. She took 27 wickets with impressive economy rates of 4.05 in ODIs and 5.4 in T20Is. She played a crucial role in South Africa’s journey to their first ever World Cup final, which was held in front of a record-breaking home crowd at Newlands.
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