In keeping with the age-old tradition of giving out rather tacky metal-looking gongs to various individuals and thereby upsetting all those who do not get them, Women's Cricket Blog has decided to award the inaugural WCB Gongs of the Year. Please imagine Stephen Fry is presenting these awards, as this will add gravitas and to the general sense of occasion (we'd like to thank Stephen for giving up his time for this worthy cause!).
Unluckiest Team of the Year
This goes to Somerset 1st XI. Not only were they denied the chance of being promoted to Division One when their second play-off game (having already beaten Div 2 league winners Lancashire) against Div 1 losers Essex was called off due to a waterlogged pitch, but they also lost out on a place in the T20 Finals as best runner-up by one run. In the south west comp they lost to Berkshire by just 3 runs and must have felt confident that they would have the best net run-rate of the losing finalists, only to be told that Kent had contrived to lose to Sussex by just 2 runs, when they needed only 5 from the last over with 8 wickets in hand. Kent, of course, had the last laugh, beating Sussex in the final.
Best Crowd of the Year
This goes to the Chelmsford Massive, who turned up in their thousands to watch an England v Australia T20 game without the need to be bored by the men afterwards.
Best Knock of the Year
Four joint winners
Heather Knight for her majestic 157 against the Aussies at Wormsley - it saved the game and set England up for their series win
Lydia Greenway's reverse sweeping 80 from 64 balls in the second T20 which sealed the Ashes series for England
Sarah Taylor's 128no for Sussex v Yorkshire in the County Championship Play-Off Final - it brightened up a dreary, dank afternoon for anyone who wasn't supporting Yorkshire
Laura Marsh - it may only have been 55, but her knock against the Aussies at Wormsley occupied 304 balls and, together with the aforementioned Heather Knight, she added a record-breaking 156 for the 7th wicket.
Best Catch of the Year
No competition really......Sarah Taylor's remarkable piece of anticipation and outstanding reflexes to catch Aussie skipper Jodie Fields as she tried to reverse sweep Dani Hazell at Hove in the 3rd ODI at Hove.
Best Spirit of Cricket Moment of the Year
Two winners this time
Yorkshire 1st XI for agreeing to play their cancelled league game against Middlesex when they knew a loss would lose them their place in the County Championship Final - they won and got there on merit!
Yorkshire U17s for their grace and good humour having lost the T20 Final to Sussex when the scores were tied off the last ball, by reason of Sussex losing one less wicket. The maturity of youth!
Best Idea of the Year
Turning the Women's Ashes into a Women's Ashes Series with points for the Test, ODIs and T20s - inspired (still too many points for the Test, but heh). It has created an Ashes series worth playing for and worth watching.
Worst Idea of the Year
Using Net Run Rate (NRR) to calculate any winner or loser of a tournament. There are only three people on the planet who understand it and they are never around when you need them. In addition cumulative Net Run Rate, as used at the ODI World Cup and by the ECB, favours a side batting first - I could explain how, but life is too short!
Surprise of the Year
Sri Lanka beating England at the ODI World Cup to record their first-ever ODI win over England. It was a great day for Sri Lanka and a miserable one for England, which ultimately cost them a place in the World Cup Final. Cricket can be a cruel game. Credit to England for coming back to win the Ashes after a disappointing tournament.
Congratulations to all the winners and indeed to all the losers. It has been a great season, and one in which women's cricket has perhaps come of age, helped in no small regard by a compelling and victorious Ashes series for England. Crowds and television viewers have enjoyed the women's game. The task now is to build on that for the future. The County Championship and the County T20 competitions need to be extended and better funded; England need to retain the Ashes in Australia; and winning back the T20 World Champions' crown in April would be a good start to the 2014 season.