Three star all-rounders and a prolific top-order batter have been nominated for the ICC Women’s T20I Cricketer of the Year category.
Smriti Mandhana – India
594 runs in 23 matches with five half-centuries
The year that was
Last year's ICC Women's T20I Cricketer of the Year nominee features yet again in the same category. That is some consistency from India's batting mainstay – the super-talented Smriti Mandhana.
From smashing the quickest fifty by an India woman (off just 23 balls) to breaching the 2500-run mark in T20Is, Mandhana enjoyed a good run this year, leaving her mark on the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, the Women's T20 Asia Cup in Bangladesh, and a memorable five-match T20I home series against Australia towards the business end of a fruitful year.
Mandhana's most exciting innings of 2022 came in the second T20I of the bilateral series against Australia in December. In front of over 47,000 spectators – the highest turnout for a women's cricket match in India – at the DY Patil stadium in Mumbai, Mandhana smacked a 49-ball 79 while chasing Australia's 187/1.
She was India's top-scorer in the match, taking the match to the very end as India set up a Super Over clash after levelling the scores at 187/5.
In the Super Over, India came out to bat first and scored a competitive total of 20/1, out of which Mandhana scored 13 off the last three balls (4, 6, 3). This turned out to be a total well enough for India as they restricted Australia to 16/1, sealing a memorable win in front of a roaring crowd.
Nida Dar – Pakistan
396 runs in 16 matches at an average of 56.57, and 15 wickets
The year that was
The first and the only Pakistan bowler to have claimed 100 T20I wickets, and currently, the second-highest wicket-taker in Women's T20Is, all-rounder Nida Dar impressed more with the bat this year.
She struck three fifty-plus scores this year: an unbeaten fifty at the Commonwealth Games, similar exploits against India at the Asia Cup, and a well-made 61 at home against Ireland in November.
Dar was exceptional in the Asia Cup in which she amassed 145 runs in six matches, at a superb average of 72.50, and also claimed eight wickets at a meager 14.87 runs a piece. For her all-round brilliance, she was also voted as the ICC Women's Player of the Month for October.
Dar's best performance of the year in the shortest format was in the Asia Cup, against Pakistan's arch-rivals India. After a shaky start, with Pakistan struggling at 33/3 at the end of the Powerplay, skipper Bismah Maroof was joined by Dar. Together they stitched a crucial partnership of 76 runs.
Even after Maroof's wicket, Dar kept the momentum going with a fiery knock. She smashed 56* from just 37 balls with five fours and a six, helping her side post 137/6.
With the ball, she gave away 23 runs from her four overs, and claimed two important wickets of Jemimah Rodrigues and India skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, as Pakistan cruised to their first-ever win over India in women's T20Is in six years. Dar was adjudged Player of the Match for her match-winning contributions.
Sophie Devine – New Zealand
389 runs in 14 matches at an average of 29.92 and 13 wickets
The year that was
Only recently pipped by Ash Gardner as No.1 all-rounder on the MRF Tyres ICC Women's T20I Player Rankings, White Ferns skipper Sophie Devine proves time and again why she is one of the best all-rounders of the game.
Under her leadership, New Zealand won 11 out of 14 games this year, including one Super Over win over West Indies in the fourth T20I in Antigua.
Another memorable performance of an ICC Women’s T20I Cricketer of the Year nominee featured a Super Over thriller. In the fourth T20I of a five-match series against West Indies in October, Devine emerged as the Player of the Match.
It was a low-scoring thriller, with New Zealand making 111/4, thanks to Amelia Kerr's 49. Devine was dismissed early, running out for 13. But she was brilliant with the ball, returning 3/29 from her four-over spell as West Indies went on to level the scores on the last ball with just one wicket in hand.
In the Super Over, West Indies made 15/0, and the onus was on the experienced duo of Suzie Bates and Devine, to take their side across the line and seal the series. Devine sent the first ball for a six, she then ran a two and a single. Bates then rotated the strike with one run (leg bye), and at this stage, New Zealand still needed six runs to win with two balls remaining.
Devine ran a two on the next ball, and only a boundary on the last ball could have sealed the deal for the White Ferns. Devine hit a six off the last ball, and not only won the match for her team but also won the Player of the Match award for her match-defining exploits.
Tahlia McGrath – Australia
435 runs in 16 matches at an average of 62.14 and 13 wickets
The year that was
Made her T20I debut in October 2021, and is one of the nominees for the ICC Women’s T20I Cricketer of the Year – such has been Tahlia McGrath's meteoric rise this year in the shortest format. One of the most exciting talents around, she is also a Commonwealth Games gold medalist, and the current World No.1 MRF Tyres ICC Women's T20I batter.
At the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, she amassed 128 runs in five matches, averaging 42.66. For her stellar showing, she was voted as the ICC Women's Player of the Month for August this year.
McGrath started her 2022 with a bang against England in the multi-format Women's Ashes series opener in Adelaide. She made a quick-fire unbeaten 91, her highest T20I score, off just 49 balls. Her entertaining innings was studded with 13 fours and a six.
Prior to that, she also made an impact with the ball as she returned 3/26 from her four overs, restricting England to 169/4. However, the way McGrath took the attack and batted fearlessly, the total seemed below par, as she along with skipper Meg Lanning chased it down with 18 balls to spare.
McGrath was well-deservingly awarded the Player of the Match title.