ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2021 Women's bowling nominees: Megan Schutt strikes, rookies Darcie Brown, Fatima Sana shine

Veterans and newcomers alike on this shortlist made an impact for their teams in key games

Annesha Ghosh
Annesha Ghosh
21-Jan-2022
Darcie Brown takes a photo with Megan Schutt after getting her Australia cap, New Zealand vs Australia, 2nd T20I, Napier, March 30, 2021

Megan Schutt (right) powered Australia to their 22nd consecutive ODI win, against New Zealand, and Darcie Brown extended the streak to 25, against India  •  Kerry Marshall/Getty Images

Shabnim Ismail
5 for 12 vs Pakistan
second T20I, Durban

Pakistan needed 134 to push the three-T20I series into a decider, but Ismail's fiery new-ball spell of three overs for as many wickets derailed their chase, and they sank further to 20 for 4 inside the powerplay. After Marizanne Kapp drew first blood in the third over, Ismail had Muneeba Ali caught behind and Nida Dar bowled off successive deliveries in the fourth. Ayesha Zafar was the next to have her stumps rattled by Ismail, in the sixth over. In the final over, Ismail came on to defend 21, with set batters Ayesha Naseem and Aliya Riaz in the middle. She got both out caught, South Africa completed an 18-run victory, and Ismail had her career-best T20I returns.
Megan Schutt
4 for 32 vs New Zealand
first ODI, Mount Maunganui

Meg Lanning's team eclipsed Ricky Ponting's 2003 side with a world-record 22nd ODI win in a row, and Schutt was the chief architect of their triumph. Her first ball, an impish inswinger, drew Hayley Jensen forward and sneaked through onto the stumps. After keeping New Zealand honest with 4-0-12-1 in her first spell, Schutt returned in the 34th over, by when opener Lauren Down had added 90 with the No. 3, Amelia Kerr. In the 38th, Schutt broke that stand with a smart stumping of Kerr by Alyssa Healy. The breakthrough triggered the hosts' slide from 159 for 2 to 212 all out in the 49th; Maddy Green and Jess Kerr were Schutt's other two wickets.
Kate Cross
5 for 34 vs India
second ODI, Taunton

England's first-change bowler gave them their first breakthrough of the game, forcing Smriti Mandhana to chop on. The 56-run opening stand broken, Cross continued to operate menacingly, and soon enough, Jemimah Rodrigues offered a leading edge. In her second spell, in the 34th over, Cross snapped the 68-run fourth-wicket stand when Harmanpreet Kaur imploded with a misjudged hoick. Cross used variations in speed, and the surprise short ball, to good effect, one of the latter clanging India captain Mithali Raj on the helmet. The over after, Deepti Sharma flicked Cross to be caught at deep midwicket, and three balls later, Sneh Rana got a leading edge to mid-off, giving Cross her second ODI five-for and restricting India to a gettable 221.
Fatima Sana
5 for 39 vs West Indies
fifth ODI, Coolidge

Rookie seamer Sana, then 19, returned the best ODI figures by a Pakistan women's quick bowler, the game after she took 4 for 30 . West Indies' target was revised to 194 from 34 overs due to rain. Sana came on in the 15th over and bowled opener Deandra Dottin. Six overs later another set batter, Britney Cooper, became her second wicket. With 32 needed off 12, Sana cut the lower-middle order and tail to ribbons, removing Rashada Williams, Chinelle Henry, and Anisa Mohammed all in one over to claim her maiden five-for and a second player-of-the-match award in as many games.
Darcie Brown
4 for 33 vs India
first ODI, Mackay

The absence of their two bowling mainstays, Megan Schutt and Jess Jonassen, hardly posed Australia a challenge in the first game of the multi-format series, thanks to teen quick bowler Brown. Playing only her second ODI, the 18-year-old accounted for four out of India's top five, unsettling them with 120kph pace and well-directed bouncers. In her five-over opening spell, Brown capitalised on Shafali Verma's discomfort against the short ball and Smriti Mandhana's vulnerability in the point region. She then took out Yastika Bhatia (caught at point) and Deepti Sharma (top edge to square leg) in her second to become the youngest Australian to claim four wickets in an ODI. Her haul set her side on course for a record 25th consecutive ODI win.

Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha