Congratulations to Wisden’s 5 Cricketers of the Year for 2021: Zak Crawley, Darren Stevens, Jason Holder, Dom Sibley and Mohammad Rizwan. All five fulfilled the criteria of having had an outstanding impact on the English summer, and not having been chosen before; and all five awards were very much deserved.
It is notable however that the selection this year reverts to the traditional all-male list, after a run of 3 consecutive years where at least one woman was chosen, which we had hoped had set something of a precedent for always including a woman going forwards.
There are at least two women who could have been chosen.
One was Stafanie Taylor – a bona fide “all time great”, who faced-down coronavirus fears, at a time when England was seen as the basket-case of the world, to lead her West Indies side on a tour of England without which the women’s international summer would have been lost.
The other was Georgia Adams, who played one of the great innings in domestic women’s cricket history with her 150 versus Western Storm, scored three other 50s besides, and led her side from the front to victory in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy Final at Edgbaston.
Of course, the award is not based on number or stats or votes, still less what I think! It is 100% in the gift of the editor of Wisden, Lawrence Booth – a writer for whom we have enormous respect, and who has done a lot to improve the profile of women’s cricket in Wisden during his term of office.
Yet it is unarguable that both Adams and Taylor had a huge impact on the women’s game last summer, so the question is: is the women’s game on a par with the men’s… or not?
Perhaps the RHF Trophy is worth less than the Bob Willis? Maybe a women’s international T20 series is worth less than a men’s Test series. And yes – both were much shorter; but this is a structural issue – it is hardly Georgia Adams’ fault that she “only” played 7 One Day matches; nor Stafanie Taylor’s that the Windies played just 5 T20s.
Wisden were in a position this year to really challenge the narrative that the women’s game is intrinsically worth less than the men’s.
And that’s a pity.