Zak Crawley, who turned his maiden Test hundred into a mammoth 267 during the summer, has been voted the Cricket Writers’ Club NV Play Young Cricketer of the Year. Former England captain Alastair Cook was named County Championship Player of the Year for his performances in the Bob Willis Trophy, while England spinner Sophie Ecclestone claimed the CWC Women’s Cricket Award.
Jason Holder and the West Indies men’s team were also recognised with the Peter Smith Award, given for outstanding contribution to the presentation of cricket to the public, after helping England to fulfil their international commitments during the Covid-19 pandemic, and for leading the way in cricket’s Black Lives Matter conversation.
The CWC young cricketer award is voted on by members of the club, and is restricted to England-qualified players under the age of 23 at the start of the season. It has been awarded every year since 1950, with many recipients going on to enjoy long careers in international cricket.
Crawley, the Kent opener who was also voted the Professional Cricketers’ Association’s Young Player of the Year, scored 417 runs at an average of 69.50 in four Test appearances during England’s bio-secure series against West Indies and Pakistan. He also recorded a maiden T20 hundred, and added another in Kent’s Bob Willis Trophy campaign.
“To get the cricket we did and have a decent summer was very special,” Crawley said. “To win this award, voted for by the cricket media is very special, so thanks to everyone who voted for me.”
Cook was the leading run-scorer in the Bob Willis Trophy, with his imperious 172 in the final at Lord’s helping Essex to secure the county red-ball title for the third time in four seasons. “It was a great year, actually,” Cook said. “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.”
Ecclestone, 21, is currently ranked the ICC’s No. 1 bowler in women’s T20Is. She was commended by Isabelle Westbury, convenor of the Women’s Cricket Award selection panel, for “another outstanding 12 months in international cricket” after helping England to the semi-final of the Women’s T20 World Cup, as well as a 5-0 series sweep against West Indies last month.
“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,” Ecclestone said.
The Lord’s Taverners Disability Cricketer of the Year went to Dan Bower, who scored 499 runs at an average of 99.80 in England’s 8-0 whitewash of Australia last October.
The discretionary Peter Smith Award, named after the late Daily Mail cricket correspondent, was determined by a panel of media members chaired by journalist Tanya Aldred.
The panel’s citation read: “Holder led a trailblazing tour party that flew into the unknown at the height of the Covid-crisis in the UK, from the relative safety of the Caribbean. As the first sports team to enter a bio-bubble, they showed great forbearance, holed up in two hotels for seven weeks, and were instrumental in rescuing the international summer for cricket lovers and the ECB. Holder also conducted himself with grace on and off the field, speaking eloquently on race and racism and the need for education and unity, during a period of turbulence precipitated by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.”
Winner of the CWC Derek Hodgson Book Award was Duncan Hamilton, for The Great Romantic, while Ashley Gray’s The Unforgiven was also highly commended.
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.”