New Delhi, Jan 24: New Zealand all-rounder Rachin Ravindra and Australia opener Phoebe Litchfield have been crowned winners of the ICC Emerging Cricketer of the Year in men’s and women’s category respectively. Netherlands all-rounder Bas de Leede and Kenya captain Queentor Abel were named Associate Cricketers of the Year in men’s and women’s category respectively.
Ravindra edged competition from India opener Yashasvi Jaiswal, and fast bowlers Dilshan Madushanka and Gerald Coetzee of Sri Lanka and South Africa respectively. Ravindra, the left-handed batting all-rounder from New Zealand, made headlines in 2023 for his ODI exploits, a format he debuted in March.
He showed glimpses early with a knock of 49 against Sri Lanka to begin, also chiming in with the ball, taking consecutive three-wicket hauls against Pakistan and England, both away from home. A fifty against England at Lord’s followed, before showing maturity in his 123 not out off 96 balls in New Zealand’s opening match of the Men’s ODI World Cup against England.
A knock of 51 against the Netherlands followed, before another half-century against India in a thrilling game in Dharamsala. Ravindra went on to smash 116 in a spirited chase against Australia at the same venue, before another century against Pakistan in Bengaluru, the hometown of his parents. Ravindra’s 578 runs was the highest tally for a New Zealand player in a single edition of the Men’s ODI World Cup.
"It’s obviously a very special feeling. Whenever you are recognized by the ICC for something, it’s always special. Reflecting back, it has been a pretty whirlwind last year or so. Having the opportunity to play so much cricket in so many different environments has been really special. Congratulations to all the fellow nominees, all of whom had an incredible year and performed brilliantly," said Ravindra in an ICC statement.
In the women’s category, Phoebe started the year in great touch as she smashed consecutive unbeaten half-centuries in her first two ODI matches at home against Pakistan. Despite narrowly missing out on selection for Australia's squad at the ICC Women's T20 World Cup, Litchfield returned to international action with a Player of the Match performance by hitting her first century in international cricket with an unbeaten 106 against Ireland in Dublin.
She then smashed five sixes and an unbeaten 52 from just 19 deliveries in her first T20I contest of the year against the West Indies at the start of October, before taking Player of the Series award in Australia’s recent 3-0 ODI series win over India, including a fine 119 at the Wankhede Stadium.
Phoebe won the award ahead of England pacer Lauren Bell, Bangladesh fast-bowler Marufa Akter and Scotland all-rounder Darcey Carter. "I’m thrilled to be named the ICC Emerging Women’s Cricketer of the Year. It’s an honour to be nominated alongside incredible cricketers and I’d like to extend my congratulations to all award nominees.
"It’s been a massive year for women’s cricket and the standard of all teams continues to rise, which is exciting for the future of our sport. Multi-format series away from home against England and India were massive challenges for our group but we relished the opportunity.
"From a personal perspective it's also been pleasing I’ve been able to put in some consistent performances and contribute to team success over the past 12 months. Thank you to everyone who voted in the awards, it’s been a memorable year and I’m excited for what’s to come," said Phoebe.
Meanwhile, de Leede was named Men’s Associate Cricketer of the Year for his brilliant all-round showings. He amassed 424 runs at an average of 28.26 and a strike rate of 88.14 while picking 31 wickets at an average of 26.41 and an economy rate of 6.51.
His highlight of the year came when the Netherlands secured qualification to the ODI World Cup at the hugely competitive qualifying tournament in July 2023. A career-defining performance for de Leede came when he hit 123 before his haul of 5/52 swept aside Scotland.
He carried on the good work in the main tournament in India, taking 16 wickets in eight matches with a best of 4/62 against Pakistan. "It feels awesome winning the award. It is good to get a little bit of recognition. I am accepting the award, but I think most of the Dutch players would have been in contention. It is a cool way to finish a great year for the Netherlands.
"Looking at my performances, it is probably the best I have played for Holland, which I am very thankful for. Looking at what we achieved this year, I am happy to have put in some performances to make that happen," said de Leede.
Queentor, the Kenya skipper, won the ICC Associate Women’s Cricketer of the Year following a consistent 12-month period. The all-rounder scored 476 runs from 17 T20Is at an average of 34 and a strike rate of 106.72 in 2023. She recorded her highest score of 109 from 52 balls against Lesotho along with three other half-centuries.
Her off-spin bowling was a reliable weapon for Kenya, picking 30 wickets a startling average of 7.36 and an economy rate of 3.81. She had impressive figures of 4/7 against Botswana and 5/5 against Cameroon in the Women’s T20 World Cup Africa Region Division II Qualifier.
"Winning the ICC Women's Associate Cricketer of the Year is a profound honor, representing the culmination of relentless dedication to the sport. This recognition is not only a personal triumph but a testament to the collective efforts of my teammates, coaches, Pirates Cricket Club and not forgetting my fans out there.
"This accolade fuels my passion for the game and reinforces the positive strides made in promoting women's cricket globally. As a recipient, I feel a responsibility to inspire aspiring players and contribute to the continued growth of women's cricket.
"The acknowledgment from the ICC amplifies the visibility of Associate cricket and emphasizes the broader impact of fostering inclusivity and diversity within the sport. This award is a source of immense pride and motivation to keep pushing boundaries in my cricketing journey," said Queentor. (IANS)