The nominees for the ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year 2023 award have been unveiled by the International Cricket Council (ICC). The candidates vying for the prestigious Rachael Heyhoe Flint award include Australia’s standout all-rounder Ashleigh Gardner, Sri Lanka’s experienced campaigner Chamari Athapaththu, England’s seasoned all-rounder Nat Sciver-Brunt, and Australian opener Beth Mooney. Let’s discover their stellar runs in 2023.
Ashleigh Gardner (Australia)
Ashleigh Gardner’s performances were exceptional across formats in the past year. Playing a crucial role in Australia’s success in the T20 World Cup, she emerged as the joint-highest wicket-taker for her team. Commencing the year on a strong note against Pakistan at home, Gardner continued her stellar form into the T20 World Cup.
In Australia’s opening match against New Zealand, she achieved her career-best bowling figures (5/12), significantly contributing to a 97-run victory. Throughout the tournament, she maintained her role as Australia’s joint-highest wicket-taker and concluded with economical figures of 1/20 in the World Cup final, aiding her team’s 19-run triumph. Notably, her performance was crucial in securing the win for Australia.
Her valuable contributions extended to the Ashes, where Australia retained the title against England in a one-off Test match. Gardner’s outstanding match figures of 8/66 in the Test were the second-best in Women’s Tests. Gardner’s brilliance extended to consistent performances in the limited-overs format. Displaying her versatility, she made valuable contributions with the bat in the middle order throughout the Ashes series.
Beth Mooney (Australia)
Australia’s accomplished left-handed opener, Mooney, showcased her batting prowess by amassing 1040 runs in 29 matches. Her standout performances played a pivotal role in Australia’s success, particularly in the T20 World Cup, where she emerged as the team’s leading run-scorer, contributing significantly to their record 6th trophy lift. Mooney’s exceptional 74-run knock in the tournament finals earned her the Player of the Match accolade.
In the Women’s Ashes, Mooney continued to make crucial contributions, notably scoring 85 runs in the second innings, aiding Australia’s cause. Her remarkable form extended to ODIs, where she notched up a hundred against Pakistan. The left-handed opener’s unmatched form was evident in the T20 World Cup, where she played a pivotal role in Australia’s triumph, contributing key innings such as her 54 from 37 against India in the semi-finals and an unbeaten 74* from 53 in the finals.
Expanding her impact to the ODI arena, Mooney showcased her batting prowess with a century against Pakistan and consistently performed well in the Women’s Ashes. Furthermore, Mooney proved to be a steady presence at the top order in the longest format, contributing a crucial 85 in the second innings of the only Ashes Test in Nottingham. Her innings played a vital role in setting a challenging target of 268, eventually defended with Gardner’s brilliance.
Nat Sciver-Brunt (England)
Nat Sciver-Brunt displayed exceptional all-round prowess throughout the year, accumulating a total of 894 runs and taking 9 wickets in 18 games. Having previously clinched the award in 2022, she finds herself once again in contention for the prestigious honour. In the ODI format, Sciver-Brunt delivered outstanding performances, scoring an impressive 393 runs in just six games with an extraordinary average of 131, including three centuries.
Her total tally of ODI centuries now stands at eight, trailing only one behind England’s national record jointly held by Tammy Beaumont and Charlotte Edwards (9 each). The cricketer showcased her batting prowess in the Test format as well, registering two fifties against Australia and India. Sciver-Brunt maintained her dominance in the T20 World Cup, finishing as England’s highest run-scorer with 216 runs at an impressive strike rate of 141.17.
Her consistent contributions continued throughout the year, highlighted by a brilliant knock of 77 against India at Wankhede in December, setting the stage for a compelling England victory. Her all-round excellence reaffirms her status as a strong contender for the coveted Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy once again.
Chamari Athapaththu (Sri Lanka)
Nominated for the ICC T20 Cricketer of the Year 2023 award as well, Chamari Athapaththu has once again made her way to the ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year for her amazing run. In a remarkable display of all-round prowess, Athapaththu delivered an outstanding performance in 2023, amassing 885 runs and claiming 9 wickets in 24 matches.
The seasoned player, also at the helm, led Sri Lanka to a silver medal in the Asian Games, showcasing her leadership skills. In the ODIs, Athapaththu played a pivotal role in Sri Lanka’s success, scoring two centuries against New Zealand, ultimately securing a series victory for her nation. Her contributions, both with the bat and as a leader, marked a sensational year for the star cricketer.
In the T20I format, Athapaththu’s impactful batting resulted in 470 runs and eight wickets. Her aggressive approach at the top of the order provided a solid foundation for Sri Lanka. Although the team didn’t qualify for the knockout stage in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa, they showcased their prowess with notable wins against South Africa and Bangladesh. Athapaththu’s standout performance in the T20I format included an unbeaten 80 against New Zealand, leading Sri Lanka to a convincing 10-wicket win.
However, her most exceptional display came against England, where she earned the Player of the Series title for her all-round contributions, marking Sri Lanka’s historic first-ever T20I series win against the formidable opponent. In addition to her T20I success, Athapaththu excelled in ODIs, playing a crucial role in Sri Lanka’s series victory over New Zealand at home with her two centuries. Overall, her exceptional form and leadership made 2023 a sensational year for Chamari Athapaththu and Sri Lankan cricket.