DUBLIN – Paul Stirling and Kim Garth were announced the men’s and women’s International Player of the Decade respectively amongst the 14 categories of awards handed out at the ITW Irish Cricket Awards 2021.
The event was broadcast via Youtube and was hosted by sports journalist and broadcaster Marie Crowe, supported by RTE’s John Kenny and former Ireland Men’s captain Kyle McCallan. Viewers were treated with interviews with each winner, and a heartfelt tribute to the late Roy Torrens, which featured contributions from former Irish coaches Adi Birrell and Phil Simmons.
Each winner will receive an engraved award designed to the iconic Irish brand, Waterford – an organisation that is proudly extending its generational links with cricket.
ITW International Player of the Decade – Men
- Winner: Paul Stirling
- Shortlist: Ed Joyce, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O’Brien, William Porterfield, Paul Stirling
- Quote from judging panel: “Paul’s consistency over the decade, improving year by year, was world-class. He has an amazing natural talent with power and match winning qualities. Opening the batting against top quality bowling attacks, he has an outstanding strike rate which gives the team the best chance of being successful against the top nations.”
Hanley Energy International Player of the Decade – Women
- Winner: Kim Garth
- Shortlist: Laura Delany, Kim Garth, Cecelia Joyce, Isobel Joyce, Clare Shillington
- Quote from judging panel: “Kim debuted at 14 years of age, and finished the decade with the highest batting average by an Irish player in T20Is, and the best bowling average over the past decade in ODIs for Ireland Women. With the ball, she’s not only a wicket-taker, but economical too. She was named as the standout player in the Irish team by the International Cricket Council at the T20 World Cup in 2018, was one of the 6 players awarded a professional contract in 2019, and finished that year as the leading run-scorer for Ireland in the T20 World Cup Qualifier. She has also extensive WBBL experience with two winners medals with Sydney Sixers.”
ITW International Men’s Player of the Year
- Winner: Paul Stirling
- Runners-up: Andrew Balbirnie, Craig Young
- Process: This was a peer-nominated award, with players all awarding 3-2-1 rankings to their teammates after each game. Of the total ranking votes available: Paul Stirling received 42%, Andrew Balbirnie 20% and Craig Young 14% – making them the three highest-ranked players in 2020.
Test Triangle Inter-Provincial Player of the Year
- Winner: Simi Singh
- Quote from judging panel: “Simi had an excellent season at inter-provincial level, showing his significant all-round value. In the IP50 competition Simi scored 104 runs at a strike rate of 104, and took 10 wickets, topping the averages at 13.70 per wicket. He took a wicket every 20 balls and had an economy rate of just over 4 runs per over. In the IP20 competition, Simi was never dismissed and scored 64 runs at a strike rate of 108.47, while also being leading wicket taker in the competition with 8 wickets at an average of 6.62 per wicket. He took a wicket every 9.75 balls and had an economy rate of just over 4 runs per over.”
Arachas Super Series Player of the Year
- Winner: Laura Delany
- Quote from judging panel: “Laura had an excellent season at Super Series level captaining the Typhoons to their first-ever title win. She was the highest ranked Typhoons batter, scoring 219 runs at an average of 43.80 with a strike rate of 74.2 and 2 half centuries; and claimed 7 wickets at an average of 22.29 with an economy of 3.39 – consistently taking wickets at crucial times, whilst being extremely economical.”
Tildenet Club of the Year
- Winner: Limerick Cricket Club
- Shortlist: Limerick Cricket Club, Newbuildings Cricket Club, North Down Cricket Club, YMCA Cricket Club
- Quote from judging panel: “In 2020, Limerick cleaned up titles and saw significant membership growth – now having a vibrant youth section. They continued to develop their new home ground in Adare and 2021 will see excellent new clubhouse opened. In a significant advance for the club and cricket in Limerick generally, the club has entered into partnership with Limerick City Council on the development of a city centre venue which will provide training facilities for both youth and adult players and a venue for youth games.”
O’Neill’s Club Male Player of the Year
- Winner: John Anderson
- Shortlist: John Anderson, Chris Dougherty, Gareth McKeegan, Swaroop Burra
- Quote from judging panel: “John had an excellent season. He played in all six matches of the Merrion campaign, scoring 364 runs over 6 innings, with one not out. His average of 72.8 was twenty runs higher than the next challenger. He passed the half-century mark on no fewer than four occasions, with his highest score of 81 coming against North Kildare at The Maws. His other two scores were 49 and 23. Looking down the list, John’s season is even more remarkable when it’s considered that the next man, in terms of aggregate runs, Kenny Carroll, took 9 games to reach 326 at an average of 40.75.”
O’Neiil’s Club Female Player of the Year
- Winner: Alana Dalzell
- Shortlist: Alana Dalzell, Charlotte Lyons, Rebecca Stokell
- Quote from judging panel: “In a difficult year Alana was a stand-out player within the North West region. She plays her cricket for Bready CC where she is captain of the Women’s team, in 2020 this was a very youthful side, with several of the usual team being unavailable due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Alana also plays regularly for the Bready CC Men’s 3rd XI side, fulfilling a role in the side as one of the seam attack in what is also generally a youthful side. Late in the season she was called into the Bready CC Men’s 1st XI, making her ‘Senior’ debut against Strabane. She returned respectable figures of 0-9 from two overs. Alana also made several appearances during the season at Women’s representative level, both for the NW side against the NCU, but also in the Super Series/”
Cricket Writers of Ireland Hall of Fame
- Inductee 1: Caitriona Beggs
- Citation: Caitriona played 66 times for Ireland Women from 1995 to 2008. She scored 1,450 runs (at an average 27.88), including nine fifties. She played her first women’s league match aged 8, and was on the Leinster Under-19s squad at age 11. She was a top order batter and played in three World Cups – her 68 against Pakistan is also the highest score by an Irishwoman in Test cricket. Additionally, she was top-scorer against England in 2001, when her 35 helped Ireland to a memorable win in the European Championship. And when the ICC unveiled their ODI world rankings in 2008 she was the only player from an Associate nation to make the top 20.
- Inductee 2: Peter Gillespie
- Citation: When Peter retired in 2007, he was Ireland’s most capped player – 124 games from 1995 until just after the World Cup in the Caribbean. First picked as a fast bowler, he found his feet as a middle-order batsman. In all he made 2,774 runs at an average of 27.47, but those figures do not reflect some important innings. One such came at the Lawn in 1998, when his 94 drove Ireland to a notable win over Bangladesh. He will be best remembered for his 47-ball century at Bangor in 2005, still the fastest for Ireland despite some challengers in the last decade. In 2007, Adi Birrell described him as the “heartbeat of the team”, but his team-mates knew him only as “PG” or “Polish”.
- Inductee 3 (posthumous): Jimmy Boucher
- Citation: The first of our posthumous inductees is probably the greatest spin bowler Ireland has produced. First capped as a schoolboy in 1929, he soon became a key member of the Irish side and enjoyed a 25-year international career interrupted only by the Second World War. He won sixty caps for Ireland, and took 307 wickets, averaging 15.26, including 31 five-fors and 10 wickets in a match on 7 occasions. His best bowling, 7-13, was against New Zealand at Rathmines. After retirement he became an Irish selector and served as Hon Secretary of the Irish Cricket Union for more than 20 years..
See previous Hall of Fame inductees
Gibney’s Outstanding Contribution and Service to Irish Cricket
- Winner: Roy Torrens
- Quote from Robin Walsh: “Roy was an icon, there was no doubt he was one of the greatest figures in Irish cricket – in fact, I could give you an argument why he was the greatest all-round figure in Irish cricket.”
Clear Currency Volunteering Excellence Award
- Winner: Michael Hickey
- Quote from judging panel: “Michael had a long playing career with Lismore Cricket Club and following retirement he took up umpiring, and became an umpiring instructor. He has served on the Executive and Board of Munster Cricket since 2006, was President of the Union in 2016 and 2017, and acted as secretary for the Union since 2018 – retiring from that role this January. He played a very significant part in the work carried out in recent years to modernise the governance structures of Munster Cricket which culminated in the incorporation of the Union from 1 January 2020.”
Techfynder Cricket Official of the Year
- Winner: Ian Houston
- Quote from judging panel: “Ian has been the Appointments Secretary for NIACUS for 25 years. He’s appointed for well over 30,000 fixtures during his tenure and has never failed to have a fixture covered. Despite Covid-19, in 2020 Ian kept the show on the road during a very taxing time. Ian also mentors newly qualified officials, passing on his vast experience and advice. Many of today’s top officials owe Ian a huge debt of gratitude in mastering the umpiring arts.”
Shapoorji Pallonji Outstanding Contribution to Coaching
- Winner: Brían O’Rourke
- Quote from judging panel: “Brían is an Irish coaching legend and has been instrumental in the growth and development of countless inter-provincial and international cricketers over the past 25 years. He has fulfilled a variety of roles since 1995, coaching Ireland teams from Under-15 through to Under-19 level, taking charge of Under-19 World Cup campaigns in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. Brían has also been heavily involved at inter-provincial level, leading Leinster Under 15’s at every tournament since 1997 enjoying an unprecedented and unrivalled level of success over that period.”
Turkish Airlines Special Jury Award – Spirit of Cricket Award
- Winner: Bready Cricket Club
- Shortlist: Bready Cricket Club, Kerry Cricket Club, North Down Cricket Club, Pembroke Cricket Club
- Quote from judging panel: “At the start of lockdown, Bready Cricket Club’s General Committee made the decision to proactively support elderly and vulnerable residents in the area who were self-isolating. Initially planned for 1 week, and to cover 60 people, the Club realised a longer term need existed for the popular service. Since then, the team of volunteers – made up mostly of players and members of the club – have been known as the ‘Cricketing Cooks’. By the end of this month, they will have provided over 3,000 meals to the elderly & vulnerable in the community. On top of this, players have also been carrying Pharmacy / Grocery deliveries for families who have been housebound. And when lockdown eased during the Summer, the club ran a pilot fitness programme for community residents, which saw up to 60 men & women of all ages take part in a Circuit Training programme.”
General Award Judging Panel:
- Aideen Rice, Ger Siggins, Ian Callender, Peter McCartney, Angela Platt, Philip Smith, Joe Moynihan
Expert Juries – Players of the Decade:
- Men’s Award: Peter Gillespie, Alan Lewis, Kyle McCallan, Andrew White
- Women’s Award: Carrie Archer, Miriam Grealey, Barbara McDonald, Rob O’Connor
NOTES TO EDITORS
- This year, due to the unfortunate cancellation / postponement of all Ireland Women’s cricket fixtures in 2020, there cannot be an award presented in that category. However, in consultation with the Irish Cricketers Association, it was agreed that the ITW International Men’s Player of the Year would still go ahead, as the Men’s team played 12 fixtures during the period. The International Women’s Player of the Year award will be reinstated in 2022.
- ITW website: www.itwglobal.com