England trio Heather Knight, Natalie Sciver and Anya Shrubsole have been named among Wisden’s five Cricketers of the Year after a transformative 2017 for the women’s game.
Only two females – Claire Taylor and Charlotte Edwards, Knight’s immediate predecessor as England captain – have previously been bestowed the honour since its inception in the Almanack in 1889.
But the impact of England’s successful World Cup campaign has prompted three of the team’s players to receive distinction alongside West Indies batsman Shai Hope and Essex seamer Jamie Porter.
A tournament that received increased media coverage culminated in a final that was played in front of a sell-out 26,500 crowd at Lord’s last July and gained a peak television audience of 1.1million viewers as England dramatically overcame India.
In a historic year for the Almanack, a comprehensive chronicling of the past 12 months published on Thursday, Shrubsole has become the first woman to grace the cover of the book in its 155th edition.
Lawrence Booth wrote in his editor’s notes: “When the cover was unveiled in January, it generated seven times as much social media interest as its predecessor, which depicted Virat Kohli, the most marketable player of the world’s best-supported team.
“Wisden shouldn’t be too smug: we have often been slow to acknowledge the women’s game. Thanks to Shrubsole and her team-mates, the case has become unanswerable. There were few cries of tokenism.”
The prestigious Cricketer of the Year accolade can be won only once by any player and is primarily judged on the influence of the previous English summer.
Knight, Sciver and Shrubsole were all at the vanguard for England, the former leading from the front and amassing 364 runs at an average of 45.5.
Wisden said: “Knight’s contribution to England’s triumph extended beyond the armband.”
All-rounder Sciver registered 369 runs at 46.12 but her instinctive reaction to send a yorker between her legs during her century against New Zealand brought her to prominence.
“Pick a stroke to define last summer, and few would quibble with ‘Natmeg’,” Wisden noted. “If the tournament proved a turning point for women’s cricket it was a coming of age for Sciver.”
Shrubsole’s contribution was particularly memorable as she took five wickets for 11 runs in the space of 18 legal deliveries in the final, with Wisden adding: “She was the face of England’s World Cup success.”
Hope is the first West Indian to be selected since Marlon Samuels in 2013 after his twin hundreds against England at Headingley – the first time any batsmen had scored centuries in both innings of a first-class match at the ground.
There is no recognition for an England male international for the first time since 2002 but Porter has been linked with a senior call-up and completes the list after a breakthrough season.
The 24-year-old was the County Championship’s leading wicket-taker with 75 scalps in 13 matches at a sensational average of 16.82 to help Essex to the Division One title.
India captain Kohli was named the leading men’s cricketer in the world for the second year in succession after playing a starring role across all formats.
Compatriot Mithali Raj was awarded the women’s gong after a year in which she became the leading run-scorer in women’s one-day internationals during India’s march to the World Cup final.
Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan collected the inaugural leading Twenty20 cricketer in the world prize.