‘I just want to fly under the radar’: modest Beth Mooney handed top Wisden award

Beth Mooney has been given the 2021 Leading Woman Cricketer in the World award by Wisden – but, typical of Australia’s low-profile World Cup-winning heroine, she would rather not have the honour at all.

The new edition of Wisden, the annual English cricketing bible, reports that on hearing of her prestigious award, Mooney protested: “I don’t want that tag. I just want to be me, and fly under the radar.”

But once again, after her heroics in 2020, it appears there is little chance for the brilliant 27-year-old Victorian to avoid the limelight as she follows teammates Ellyse Perry, the 2019 and 2016 winner, and Meg Lanning (2014) as Australian recipients of the award.

Mooney was considered the overwhelming choice for the accolade after also being voted the player of the T20 World Cup in which she played such a huge part in Australia’s triumph, with innings of 81 not out, 60, 28, and 78 not out in the final at the MCG against India.

Her tournament aggregate of 259 runs was an all-time record but still the modest Mooney asked innocently afterwards whether organisers might have made a mistake by choosing her.

She was subsequently elevated to No 1 in the world T20 batting rankings and solidified her reputation by being the leading run scorer in the 2021 edition of the Women’s Big Bash League, compiling 551 runs for Perth Scorchers.

The equivalent men’s award of world’s leading cricketer was won by England allrounder Ben Stokes, who, after his World Cup and Ashes heroics of 2019, was given the accolade for the second year running.

Stokes amassed 641 Test runs at 58.27 for the calendar year, which was more than anyone else, while his 19 wickets cost just 18.73 runs apiece.

“Ben Stokes becomes the first England player to be named Wisden’s Leading Cricketer in the World more than once, retaining the title he claimed in 2020,” said Wisden’s editor, Lawrence Booth.

“He did it all against a backdrop of personal tragedy: his father, Ged, died in December at the age of 65.”

One of the surprise awards of the 2021 Wisden went to former Australia captain Steve Waugh, who won photograph of the year for his image of children playing cricket among the sand dunes near Osian, in India.

Waugh, a keen amateur photographer in his playing days, had been travelling around India for three weeks in January 2020, working on his book The Spirit of Cricket –India’ when he captured the brilliant image.