In 2020, with all the focus on T20Is in the first three months and subsequent COVID-19 induced break meant only six ODIs were played through the year. But 2021 saw 55 ODIs being played with ten teams – Australia, England, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, West Indies, Ireland and Zimbabwe – featuring in them. Sri Lanka – the 11th team with an ODI status - didn't turn up to play any internationals since the T20 World Cup 2020 in March last year. When it was their time to get some game time, unfortunately the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier was called off with the new variant of the pandemic having an impact on the matches.
West Indies played the most number of ODIs with 14 matches to their name, while Pakistan and South Africa took part in 13 games each. England, India and New Zealand featured in 11 games apiece. Zimbabwe (8), Australia (6), Ireland (5) and Bangladesh (4) were also in action in 2021.
As always there have been notable performances and disappointments throughout the year. With the next Cricket World Cup fast approaching, it’s time for the squads and players to pull up their socks and go for one final round of preparation. It’s also time for us to pick our ODI team of the year. Have much deliberation and contemplation, we came up with a set of XI players that we feel could play under one hypothetical Team of the Year. There have been some omissions, for instance Chamari Atapattu never got a chance to show her prowess during the year or the Australians – the best side on the planet – didn’t play enough for their players to leapfrog the XI that was eventually picked.
Let’s take a look at Women’s CricZone’s ODI Team for the year 2021.
1. Tammy Beaumont
Tammy Beaumont has been prolific since her Player of the Tournament performance in the last World Cup and no one has scored more runs than her since England won the home World Cup on July 24, 2017. She seems to be the first name on their team sheet and has featured in every single game they played since that historic night at Lord’s.
The right-handed opener started the year with three fifties in New Zealand against the hosts. Her scores of 71, 72* and 88* saw England registering a 2-1 win in the series and also catapulted her to number one in the ICC batters' rankings. She also won the ICC Player of the Month award for her performance in February.
The 30-year-old showed no signs of slowing down when India came to visit England and scored 87* in the first ODI and put on another match-winning show. Although she had some low scores from then onwards, Beaumont finished on a high with a century in their final ODI of the year. Her eighth century helped England register a massive 203-run win as the World Champions ended the series 4-1 against New Zealand.
2. Lizelle Lee (wk)
From one prolific batter to another, South Africa’s Lizelle Lee will open the batting alongside Beaumont in our team of the year. The big hitting Lee finished 2021 as the leading run-getter having made 632 runs at a whopping average of 90.28.
The 29-year-old didn’t have the greatest of starts to the year with Diana Baig trapping her in front of the wicket for a four-ball duck in South Africa’s first ODI of 2021. She slowly found her groove with a couple of 40s in the same series as the hosts whitewashed Pakistan 3-0.
When South Africa travelled to India for the five-match series, Lee took it up a notch and was in imperious form. In the series opener she remained not out on 83 in a clinical chase that saw the visitors humble India by eight wickets. The burly right-hander put on 169 runs for the opening wicket with Laura Wolvaardt, but her best performance of the year came in the third ODI when Lee smashed a career best score of 132 in another chase to help South Africa take 2-1 lead.
Her 69 in the next game and another 100-run partnership with Wolvaardt meant South Africa wrapped up the series with one match to spare. Lee was named ICC Player of the Month (March) for her exploits in the series. Her dream run didn’t stop there as she added three more fifties to her kitty from the next four innings to end the year on a high. She is currently the number ranked batter in the format and in our side she will be doing the additional duty of keeping the wickets since none of the wicket-keepers had a sizeable impact in 2021.
3. Mithali Raj
India had a tough time in the year 2021, but their skipper Mithali Raj had a great year in terms of her batting numbers with six fifties to her name from the ten innings. The 38-year-old got out only once without reaching double figures with scores of 50, 36, 45, 79*, 72, 59, 75*, 63, 8 and 16. Her unbeaten 75 off 86 balls in Worcester was instrumental in India chasing down the target against England.
Although she came under the scanner a few times, batting at four, most of the times she had to do the repairing job for India and looked to accelerate at the backend of her knocks. If Beaumont and Lee provide solid starts, Raj could be the ideal foil at number three around whom the team can revolve. Her consistency will allow rest of the middle order to flourish and post some imposing totals and she can also play pivotal role in chases with her experience.
4. Heather Knight (c)
England played 11 ODIs in the year and skipper Heather Knight played an important part in leading them to eight wins. Under her captaincy, England lost only one live rubber in the year as they beat New Zealand home and away and in between won the ODI leg of the multi-format series against India at home as well.
31-year-old Knight started 2021 with a player of the match performance against New Zealand in Christchurch. Although her year ended with a duck against the same opposition, her best knock came when she scored a magnificent ton to take them to their second series win over New Zealand in a tough chase in the fourth ODI in Derby. Her 101 off 107 meant England wrapped up the series with a match to spare.
Apart from those two performances, Knight also had a match-winning 89 against New Zealand in Bristol. Only one player had more ‘player of the match’ awards than the England skipper in 2021. Her leadership skills and success in the year also made her the automatic candidate to lead our team full of stars.
5. Amy Satterthwaite
Amy Satterthwaite already made a successful return to international cricket post her maternal break in late last year. 2021 was an opportunity for her build on it and the southpaw didn’t disappoint. Even though New Zealand had tough time in the format with series losses to Australia and England (twice), the elegant left-hander was instrumental in a memorable win against England when she scored her seventh century in the format. She helped her side recover from 51 for three in a chase and shared an unbeaten 172-run stand with Amelia Kerr to take them home.
With that 119 not out in Dunedin and a couple of other fifties, Satterthwaite made sure that New Zealand had some hope in an otherwise disappointing year. Her left-handedness and ability of playing spinners will come handy for our team of the year in the middle overs.
Mithali Raj, Heather Knight, Amy Satterthwaite © Women's CricZone
6. Natalie Sciver
Natalie Sciver has been growing in stature as a player in the last few years and 2021 was no different. The seam-bowling allrounder showed her wares with both bat and ball this year. She amassed 291 runs with the bat at an average of 36.37 and a strike rate of 88.71 from ten matches. With the ball, Sciver had another productive year as she managed to snare ten wickets at an average of 27.10.
Sciver’s three for 26 and 63 against New Zealand in Dunedin early in the year gave England the series win and her unbeaten 74 dashed any hope India had in the first ODI in Bristol in late June. The 29-year-old can be handy in all three aspects of the game and will add great variety and depth to side batting at number six.
7. Stafanie Taylor
Stafanie Taylor had an interesting 2021 as she led West Indies to series wins over Pakistan both home and away before participating in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe. She skipped the series against South Africa when West Indies went down 4-1 at home. The series once again underlined Taylor’s importance to her side with the leadership skills as well as her all-round game.
The 30-year-old headlined two back-to-the wall chases against Pakistan on two slow surfaces at home and away. Centuries in both those matches meant Taylor became the only batter to score multiple tons in the year. If that wasn’t enough for her to make it to the team of the year, she put on strong performances with the ball taking six wickets at an average of 22.50 from eight matches.
8. Marizanne Kapp
Marizanne Kapp is one of the first names on the sheet these days regardless of the format – be it the ODIs, T20s or even the Hundred – and would make any side better with her all-round skills. She batted only six times this year in ten matches and still had a great impact with the willow as her 183 runs came at a staggering strike rate of 98.91. That’s just the sort of numbers someone batting at number eight will need to have in the team of the year.
Even if you take out her batting numbers, Kapp will make most sides on the basis of her bowling alone. It was yet another fruitful year for the right-handed pacer as she took eleven wickets from ten matches. Despite having a bowling average in 2021 that’s much higher compared to her career numbers, Kapp still had an impact in South Africa’s successful season underlining her value as an integral part of that side.
9. Sophie Ecclestone
Sophie Ecclestone has already made a name for herself as one of the best spinners in the world in all three formats. The left-armer was England’s strike bowler as well as the workhorse. If there were more Test matches played through the year, she would definitely be the necessary choice to have in the bowling attack.
In 2021, Ecclestone bowled 107 overs in ODIs – second most after Hayley Matthews – from 11 matches and took 16 wickets at an average of 25.43. She was miserly with the ball without losing her potency as she finished the year with an economy rate of 3.80. Only twice she didn’t bowl her quota of ten overs and both were in the last two matches of the year – one was a rain-shortened game and in the last game of 2021, she took 2 for 31 as New Zealand were bowled out for 144 in 35.2 overs.
The 22-year-old had two three-wicket hauls in the year and both were important performances as England surged ahead in the multi-format series against India. Her left-arm spin will add variety to the attack and her ability to bowl at any stage of the game helps all the sides she plays for to have greater balance.
10. Jhulan Goswami
Jhulan Goswami continues to be the strike bowler of India even after all these years. The right-arm pacer headlined India’s bowling performances in a difficult year with 15 wickets to her name in ten matches at an average of 23.13 and an economy rate of 3.77. The fact that the second best bowler from India took only eight wickets (Rajeshwari Gayakwad) underlines their dependency on Goswami.
The 39-year-old was instrumental two of India’s three wins in 2021 with player of the match performances. Her four for 41 helped them comeback in the series against South Africa at home and her three-wicket haul in Mackay ended Australia’s winning streak of 26 matches. She capped of the match and the year with the match-winning stroke when she hit Sophie Molineux over her head for a four in the final over of the game.
11. Shabnim Ismail
Shabnim Ismail is fast, fiery and one of the most competitive players around. Only Fatima Sana and Anisa Mohammed took more wickets than her in 2021 and she had four ‘player of the match’ performances in the year – most by any player. Whenever Ismail took three-wickets in the match, she made sure that South Africa had the podium finish and she walked away with the individual awards and trophies.
The 33-year-old took 18 wickets at an average of 23.33 from 12 matches and was the only fast bowler to bowl more than 100 overs in the year. She led South Africa attack from the front as the Rainbow Nation finished with only one loss and one tie (West Indies won the Super Over) in one of their most successful years in international cricket.
Those who couldn’t make it: Other than Sana and Mohammed, Deandra Dottin had a successful year among those who missed out. She scored her career-best score opening the batting against Pakistan, but she also played in the middle order and her numbers weren’t enough to pip Beaumont or Lee. Alyssa Healy was in her elements as far as strike rate was concerned, but her struggles against India and Australia playing only six matches went against her.
The ever-reliable Mignon du Preez was another strong contender for middle order with 315 runs to her name from eight innings, but she couldn’t leapfrog Raj, Knight or Satterthwaite to find a place in the XI. Kate Cross took a five-wicket haul against India, while amassing some great numbers in 2021, was another player to miss out unfortunately. New Zealand’s Leigh Kasperek and Pakistan’s Anam Amin were other options when it came to the spin department, but Ecclestone pipped them to make it to our team of the year.
WCZ’s Team of the Year: Tammy Beaumont, Lizelle Lee (wk), Mithali Raj, Heather Knight (c), Amy Satterthwaite, Natalie Sciver, Stafanie Taylor, Marizanne Kapp, Sophie Ecclestone, Jhulan Goswami, Shabnim Ismail
Honourable mentions: Mignon du Preez, Deandra Dottin, Kate Cross, Leigh Kasperek, Fatima Sana, Anisa Mohammed, Anam Amin