Not a Monthly Review: Miraculous Mooney, mysterious selections and England’s shining Knight

Shajin Mohanan S
01 Feb 2022
Not a Monthly Review: Miraculous Mooney, mysterious selections and England’s shining Knight

Not a Monthly Review: January 2022 © Women's CricZone/ Ashwini Adole

Hurray, finally it’s the World Cup year, and that brings excitement, selection debates and some big injuries. Throw in quarantine protocols, bio-bubbles, etc too for good measure in the current times of a post-pandemic world. While some teams have announced their World Cup squads, others are in the middle of keenly contested matches with thrilling finishes, cue South Africa and West Indies. Rain is everywhere, from Canberra to Johannesburg, trying its best to play spoilsport. But the cricketers have not let that come in the way of displaying some mindboggling skills.

In our column, Not a Monthly Review, we take a look at the highlights from the things that happened during the month of January and some that didn’t.

Mysterious encounters of the third kind

The year started with India becoming the first side to name their squad for the upcoming World Cup in New Zealand. Like most selections, the announcement was followed by frenzied debate. One of the biggest talking points was the non-selection of fan favourite Jemimah Rodrigues. But we have no idea why she didn't make the cut or what the selectors thought. While on the selectors, they might just be a figment of our imagination, just like the Women’s IPL, for there's no official word from any of them.

ALSO READ: What they talk about when they talk about team selection?

Among the other big-name omissions, batter Punam Raut took to Twitter to express her anguish about not finding a place in the squad by quoting her stats for the year 2021. Raut has every right to feel disappointed and can feel hard done by. Whichever way you want to spin these selections, Indian spinners aren’t spinning it, at least that’s what the numbers from last year seem to suggest.

Return of the Supermoms

Women’s cricket is no alien to supermoms. New Zealand southpaw Amy Satterthwaite successfully returned to international cricket after missing out on the T20 World Cup in 2020 while she was on her maternity break. In January, both Pakistan and West Indies named their squads for the World Cup and the South Africa series respectively. The announcement saw two more supermoms returning to the international fold and our convoluted attempt to find some connection between them ended with two words: leg-spin. The only difference being that if Pakistan are hoping for their talismanic skipper Bismah Maroof to save them with her leg breaks, they must be in some deep trouble.

On the other hand, Afy Fletcher is a regular practitioner of the art and will add to the already enviable spin attack of West Indies, joining the off-spin bowling trio of Anisa Mohammed, Hayley Matthews, and Stafanie Taylor. Long live maternity clauses and we hope more boards get on board with it.

Superstars and their varying yields at the Box Office

Dropping Ellyse Perry from an Australian side or any side for that matter was unthinkable until a few months ago, even though there have been increased discussions over her striking ability in the shortest format. But considering strike rates can sometimes be overrated, it was no wonder that plenty of shivers went through the cricketing community when she was dropped from the T20I playing XIs for the Ashes. Women’s cricket’s ascendancy has been on the upswing in recent years but by leaving one of its biggest superstars out, the all-conquering Australian team has taken another step in its evolution.

Smriti Mandhana (R) and Punam Raut Smriti Mandhana celebrates her century © Getty Images

Not all was lost for Perry though as she still continues to boss the other two formats. When it comes to bossing on the field, let’s talk about another superstar of the game – Smriti Mandhana. The southpaw won the Rachael Hayhoe-Flint Trophy for the ICC Cricketer of the Year 2021 despite not having her most successful year in international cricket. Whatever you feel about the superstar culture, the simple facts state that Perry and Mandhana are the only two players to win the awards more than once, – having taken turns to win the coveted award in the last four years and they are not going anywhere in the near future.

Miraculous Mooney, Magnanimous Meg, and A Shining Knight

The month also saw a random Test match that took place at the Manuka Oval in Canberra.

But to do justice to what unfolded in the match, we need to go to the beginning of the month. It all began when Beth Mooney broke her jaw ahead of the T20I leg of the series while getting throwdowns from coach Matthew Mott.

Mooney’s was not the freakiest injury that occurred in the month though. If you have any doubt, just ask Dane van Niekerk (Well, don’t). The South Africa skipper has had an unfortunate run of injuries – it involves avocados and home accidents apart from the sport-related injuries – and has been ruled out of the global event. Van Niekerk did show up for a commentary gig in the ongoing South Africa-West Indies series in crutches. We would rather see you at the World Cup Dane and will miss you at the tournament, maybe Maroof’s loopy leg-spin will make up for that.

ALSO READ: Fitter and hungrier: The reinvention of Beth Mooney, the run-machine

But we digress; this writer had a papercut and had to take a week’s break. We should get back to Mooney. So, after she had the surgery – it’s a miracle that she didn’t do it by the net’s side and carried on batting from there – and was on fluid diets, she was in the Australian team at the Manuka Oval. The left-hander miraculously recovered and then took a blinder of a catch on the boundary after scoring her career-best Test score, providing further proof that you can achieve great heights even when you’re nowhere close to full fitness as long as you don't like people.

The jaw dropping catch Mooney took dismissed the young Sophia Dunkley – who didn’t get the memo that the ‘Summer of Sophia’ should be over by now – as she smacked 45 off 32 balls as the Test meandered towards a draw. Well to sum it up, England needed only 257 runs from 48 overs and yet they lost nine of their wickets in pursuit and fell 13 runs short. This is the moment where we should be demanding more Test matches for women and their right to play out more mind-numbing draws. But instead, we will talk about the two captains – Meg Lanning and Heather Knight.

Lanning, who played a magnificent knock herself in the first innings, resisted the temptation to declare the second innings as soon as she got out, only to walk away with the applause for her magnanimous gesture of taking the onus to make Women’s Tests interesting by herself. Knight – the hero Manuka Oval deserves, but not the one it needs now for there were other heroes – scored an unbeaten 168 in the first innings and then went on to add another 48 runs in the second. Not much of a silent guardian, but more of a watchful protector for her side. A Heather Knight.

ALSO READ: Heather Knight makes her temperament stand out on a tough day in Canberra

So, to cut the story short, England almost pulled off the improbable with a collective effort in the second gig and now people are demanding for more of the same. Mad, ain’t it? Who has the time to watch an England side travel Down Under and put up a fight? Give me the utter capitulation of their men’s side any day.

Even though we described the Ashes Test, we missed out on doing the same for the Day of the Ashes – So, here it goes. Allrounder Ashleigh Gardner won the Belinda Clark Medal for Australia Cricketer of the Year and former Brisbane Heat and Queensland cricketer Ashleigh Barty won the Australian Open (a quick google search tells this writer that it’s not a cricket competition) on the same day.

publive-image                                                              © Women's CricZone/ Mohan Nag

We will try to come back with another ‘Not a Monthly Review’ next month. But we can’t promise anything – including more Women’s Test matches.

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