England’s Nat Sciver-Brunt named Wisden’s leading women’s cricketer in the world

By Sports Desk April 15, 2024

Nat Sciver-Brunt has become the first English woman to be honoured as Wisden’s leading cricketer in the world, heading an awards list that also includes Harry Brook and Mark Wood among the almanack’s five cricketers of the year.

Sciver-Brunt takes top billing in the women’s game following an outstanding run of form in 2023, with Australia captain Pat Cummins picking up the men’s trophy having led his country to success in both the World Test Championship and 50-over World Cup. He succeeds Ben Stokes, who has landed the prestigious title three times in the last four years.

Sciver-Brunt’s star power was acknowledged by Mumbai Indians at the start of the year, when her £320,000 Women’s Premier League deal made her the United Kingdom’s highest-paid female team athlete and her worth only rose as the calendar unfolded.

She hit three ODI centuries in five innings, including two Ashes tons in the space of 72 hours as England came from 6-0 down to draw the marquee series 8-8.

Sciver-Brunt also thrashed a 66-ball hundred against Sri Lanka, a new English record, having previously been named player of the final and second top run-scorer in the WPL to justify her huge price tag.

In earning Wisden’s nod, Sciver-Brunt finally places an English name on the women’s gong, which has been won five times by Australians in the 10 years since its inception.

There was also a distinct Ashes flavour to the historic cricketers of the year panel, the coveted once-in-a-career award dating back to 1889 and focused on performances during the preceding English summer.

Brook appears on the back of scoring 363 runs at a shade over 40 in his maiden series against the Australians, capped by a fourth-innings turn of 75 in the pressure of a must-win home Test at Headingley. The Yorkshireman also won a place in both limited-overs teams and hit the only men’s century in the third edition of The Hundred.

“Harry Brook passed 50 four times during the Ashes – more times than anyone – and played crucial hands in England’s wins at Headingley and The Oval,” noted Wisden editor Lawrence Booth.

“He smashed a record 41-ball century for Northern Superchargers, then forced his way into England’s World Cup squad with some breath-taking innings against New Zealand.”

Wood, almost a decade older than Brook at 34 and perhaps running out of chances to make the cut, is honoured for a transformative impact on the Ashes contest. Entering the contest with England 2-0 down, his raw pace helped lift the hosts off the mat in Leeds and he finished with 14 wickets at 20.21 in three undefeated outings against the old enemy.

“The selection of Mark Wood for the Third Test at Headingley turned the Ashes on its head,” Booth concluded.

“He topped 96mph, took five for 34, and pushed Australia on the back foot, literally and figuratively.”

That England did not regain the urn with an outright win owed much to the efforts Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Starc. They finished a thrilling series as top run-scorer with 496 and top-wicket-taker with 23, respectively, and also take their places in the cricketer of the year lineage.

Compatriot Ashleigh Gardner joins them, with a 12-wicket haul in the standalone women’s Ashes Test proving a pivotal contribution.

Yet another Australian will take custody of the Wisden Trophy for Test performance of the year, Travis Head winning out for his decisive 163 in the WTC final against India at The Oval.

West Indian Hayley Matthews becomes the first woman to be named leading T20 cricketer of the year after seven years.

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