Brathwaite, Matthews win top ESPN performance awards
Barbados and West Indies all-rounders Carlos Brathwaite and Hayley Matthews’ career-defining innings in the men’s and women’s World T20 finals were voted the best T20 batting performances of 2016 at the ESPNcricinfo Awards, announced Friday.
Brathwaite’s electric performance had also been earlier recognized. Last December he was the only West Indies player who featured in the 2016 International Cricket Council’s Awards when he copped the ICC Twenty20 Performance-of-the-Year award for his Eden Gardens history-making innings.
Ben Stokes won the Test batting award for his 198-ball 258 in Cape Town, the second-fastest Test double-century, while his team-mate Stuart Broad won the Test bowling award for a second year running.
Quinton de Kock’s 178 – an innings that kick-started South Africa’s 5-0 whitewash against Australia at home – was named the ODI batting performance of the year.
South Africa were the opposition that Sunil Narine destroyed on his comeback, with 6 for 27 in Guyana, which was voted the ODI bowling performance of the year.
The ESPNcricinfo awards honour the best batting and bowling performances across the international formats of the game in the preceding calendar year. The jury for this year’s awards included Ian Chappell, Mahela Jayawardene, Courtney Walsh, Mark Butcher, Ramiz Raja, and ESPNcricinfo’s senior writers and editors.
On the night when Brathwaite hit four consecutive sixes to give the West Indies men their second World T20 title, 18-year-old Matthews made her maiden T20I half-century – the highest score in a Women’s World T20 final – and was instrumental in West Indies winning their first global title after failing to qualify for the final on three previous occasions.
New Zealand offspinner Leigh Kasperek won the women’s T20 bowling award for her 3 for 13 in a six-wicket win in a World T20 group game against Australia in Nagpur.
The men’s T20I bowling award went to Bangladesh’s Mustafizur Rahman, who took five New Zealand wickets for 22 runs with his cutters in a World T20 game in Kolkata.
Last year Mustafizur was named the debutant of the year – a category voted on by ESPNcricinfo’s users, in addition to the jury. This year that honour went to another young Bangladesh bowler – Mehedi Hasan, who took a record 19 wickets in his debut Test series, against England.
Broad, who won last year for his phenomenal 8 for 15 in the Trent Bridge Ashes Test, took home the award this year for his series-sealing spell of 6 for 17, which razed South Africa for 83 runs in Johannesburg.
Afghanistan dominated the nominations in the Associates categories and bagged both batting and bowling awards. Opener Mohammad Shahzad for his 118 in an 81-run win against Zimbabwe in Sharjah; it was not only Afghanistan’s first T20I century but also the highest score by a player from an Associate nation against a Full Member. And offspinner Mohammad Nabi for a miserly 2 for 16 (including three maidens) off ten overs in a two-wicket win against Bangladesh in an ODI in Mirpur.
Virat Kohli was named captain of the year, for India’s unbeaten run in Tests in 2016, including a series win in the West Indies and a 4-0 win over England at home. Out of 12 Tests last year, India won nine and drew three. Kohli’s personal batting form remained exceptional all through; he averaged nearly 76 in the 12 Tests and scored three double-hundreds.
“The ESPNcricinfo Awards are about meaning and context,” Sambit Bal, editor-in-chief of ESPNcricinfo, said, “so we are chuffed a ten-ball innings sits beside a score of 258 in the list of winners. There is delight and irony in the fact that these two performances belong to Carlos Brathwaite and Ben Stokes, whose names will be forever entwined for those dramatic four balls in the World T20 final. It’s also our great pleasure to introduce winners from women and Associates cricket in the tenth year of the awards. We should have had them earlier, but it’s not too late to make amends.”