CWC PLAYER AWARDS
England batsmen past and present, and a world number one spinner were among the winners of the 2020 Cricket Writers' Club player awards, with Zak Crawley taking the CWC NV Play Young Cricketer of the Year Award after a breakthrough international campaign.
Sir Alastair Cook the CWC Championship Player of the Year, in association with William Hill, which in a Covid-19 truncated season reflected performances in the Bob Willis Trophy.
Left arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone won the CWC Women's Cricket Award after becoming the number one T20 bowler in the world rankings.
Dan Bowser of the England Learning Disability squad was named the Lord's Taverners Disability Cricketer of the Year after starring in a series whitewash of Australia.
CWC Chair Alison Mitchell said: “I’d like to congratulate all of our 2020 winners – in a year in which we wondered whether we would see any summer cricket at all. Huge praise must go to Steve Elworthy, his team at the ECB, and the counties, for staging both domestic and international men’s and women’s matches in safe environments.
“Naturally it is disappointing that we can’t honour our winners at the usual CWC Lunch event this year, but we hope we can formally present the trophies at an event in the future.”
NV PLAY YOUNG CRICKETER OF THE YEAR
Zak Crawley (Kent and England) became the winner of one cricket's most established individual honours after he was voted the NV Play Young Cricketer of the Year for 2020 by the club's 450-strong membership after a season where he scored a monumental 267 in the third Test against Pakistan - his maiden hundred at that level - and averaged 69.5 over the course of the Test season, as well as scoring centuries in both domestic formats.
First presented in 1950, the Young Cricketer award, which by tradition is won just once in a career, is restricted to England-qualified players under the age of 23 at the start of the season.
Previous winners have amassed more than 2,500 Test caps between them.
Crawley said he could not quite believe the breakthrough season he had enjoyed, "especially as in April when we were looking like we weren't going to get any cricket at all". Crawley added: "To get the cricket we did and have a decent summer was very special. To win this award, voted for by the cricket media is very special, so thanks to everyone who voted for me."
The 22-year-old joins a list of winners that includes numerous England greats, several from his own county of Kent - Colin Cowdrey (1953), Alan Knott (1965) and Derek Underwood (1966).
"I hope I can follow in the footsteps of some players who have had good careers," said Crawley, the first winner from Kent since Graham Dilley in 1980.
As for his stunning 267 at the Ageas Bowl, Crawley said the moment he got to his century was his most vivid memory from an epic innings. "I remember getting the two to go to a hundred more than anything else. It was incredibly special, just pure elation. Something I never felt before, a whole new level and I'm definitely craving a few more moments like that."
Crawley was also well aware of just how important a season of bio-secure international cricket in England was for the game as a whole, saying: "It was huge. To have a summer without Test cricket would have been damaging to all forms of cricket in this country with the way TV deals work. You can't underestimate the value of those games and we are all very thankful to the West Indies and Pakistan for coming over and putting themselves at risk to play in those series."
COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYER OF THE YEAR in association with William Hill
He may have retired from Test cricket but Sir Alastair Cook remains a force at first-class level and his achievement in becoming the leading run-scorer in the specially created Bob Willis Trophy saw Cook top the poll for the CWC county award, which is usually based on performances in the County Championship. Cook scored 563 runs in the Bob Willis Trophy, including two hundreds, with his 172 in the final against Somerset at Lord's helping Essex achieve a first-innings lead that proved to be the decisive factor in his side taking the title after the match ended in a draw.
"It was a great year, actually," said Cook, who succeeded Essex team-mate Simon Harmer as the winner of this award. "I was very sceptical to start with. I thought a five-match tournament, six with the final, I didn't think it would work. I was totally and utterly wrong. It was a brilliant tournament.
"Every game mattered and because there were no overseas players, because counties had a 'free shot' with no relegation, promotion wasn't spoken about, everyone could win it, clubs backed their own youngsters," added the 35-year-old Cook, a CWC Young Cricketer of the Year back in 2005. "Certainly at Essex, someone like Paul Walter came in and took their chances. In Tom Lammonby, Somerset have unearthed yet another very good left-hander."
"The icing on a cake was to play in a Lord's final. They kicked us out about nine o'clock in the evening and we had a lively bus journey home. I know everyone's said it, but it's such a shame that this season there were no crowds… I reckon that Lord's final would have sold-out. It was a great game of cricket. You never get bored (of that feeling) when you've contributed to a win and hopefully with Essex we can continue our four-day stuff."
At international level, Cook was an admirer of Crawley's progress, with England's all-time leading run-scorer saying: "To turn a maiden Test hundred into 267 and just the shots he played, it would have been an extraordinary innings by anyone. To dominate that Pakistan seam attack, like he did was incredible. He's got a massive future but he's got that to live up to but the fact he scored runs in both county competitions for Kent was encouraging."
WOMEN'S CRICKET AWARD
Sophie Ecclestone (Thunder and England) won the CWC Women's Cricket Award after an impressive 2020. The 21-year-old left-arm spinner became the youngest woman to take 50 wickets in T20 internationals and she rose to the top of the global bowling rankings in the format.
“Ecclestone has had another outstanding 12 months in international cricket, most notably being instrumental in getting England to the T20 World Cup semi-final earlier this year," said Isabelle Westbury, convenor of the women's award panel. “Her eight wickets in the tournament were achieved at a staggering economy of just over three runs per over and an average of 6.12, when the next best average for anyone bowling more than 10 overs in the tournament exceeded 10.
"I'm really honoured to receive this award, given the girls who've won it before and hopefully there's more to come in the future," said Ecclestone, who thanked her father and brothers for their role in developing her game at the very start.
Australia remain the benchmark in the women's game, having now won 21 successive one-day internationals but Ecclestone insisted reigning world champions England were narrowing the gap to their arch-rivals. "We're definitely not that far away. Last year against them, we were terrible in some ways, but now we are not far off."
LORD'S TAVERNERS DISABILITY CRICKETER OF THE YEAR
The Lord’s Taverners Disability Cricketer of the Year award, now in its fourth year, showcases the development and contribution of members of the national disability cricket squads. This year’s award winner is Dan Bowser who is part of the England Learning Disability Squad. During England’s 8-0 whitewash of Australia in October last year, Dan scored 499 runs at an average of 99.8 for which he was named player of the series. The Devon left-hander’s innings included an unbeaten 131 to wrap up the series win for this country. Oct 20 2020