Oman’s Zeeshan Maqsood and Austria’s Andrea-Mae Zepeda were respective winners of the ICC Men’s and Women’s Associate Player of the Year for 2021, as part of the annual ICC awards.
Men’s Associate Player of the Year – Zeeshan Maqsood
Oman captain Zeeshan Maqsood won ICC Associate player of the year after a strong year with bat and ball. The 34-year-old starred in both Cricket World Cup League 2 and the T20 World Cup.
Oman’s international fixtures were concentrated into the autumn, starting with two CWCL2 tri-series – first against Nepal and USA, and later against Scotland and PNG. Across the 7 completed games in the two series, Maqsood accumulated 188 runs at an average of 31.3, the highlight of which being a run-a-ball 53 vs USA. The slow-left-armer was also key with the ball, snaring 10 wickets across the 7 ODIs at an average of 24.8. The stellar all-round record was bolstered further by Maqsood’s captaincy, with Oman taking a 5-2 record across the 7 completed matches.
But Maqsood would step into the spotlight at the T20 World Cup, in which Oman were co-hosts. In the tournament opener, Maqsood would out-fox four of PNG’s batter, effecting a collapse from 112/4 to 118/9. Maqsood would add to his wicket tally against Bangladesh, as well as accruing 46 runs across two innings.
Finally, Maqsood led the Oman team to Namibia for a CWCL2 tri-series. Although the series was curtailed after two games by the Omicron outbreak, Maqsood added a further 82 runs and 6 wickets to his record. He finished the year with a total of 316 runs and 21 wickets in a standout year.
Women’s Associate Player of the Year – Andrea-Mae Zepeda
Austrian Women’s captain Andrea-Mae Zepeda produced a standout year to claim Women’s Associate player of the year, following performances across 8 T20Is in 2021.
Austria’s first challenge was a 5-match series away in Italy. In a low-scoring and fiercely competitive series against the hosts, Zepeda’s Austria came away 3-2 victors. Though she often opted to bat time, the highlight of the series came in the 3rd T20I when Zepeda scored 43 off 44 balls in Austria’s 120/5. The total would prove 7 runs beyond the reach of the Italians, emphasising the importance of the fast innings. Zepeda would make 111 runs across the 5 games, her side’s leading run scorer. Zepeda also bowled 19 overs across the 5 games. Although she only took 1 wicket, she maintained an effective economy rate throughout.
Later in the summer, Zepeda’s Austria hosted Belgium for 3 T20Is. This series would prove lucrative run-scoring for Zepeda, who scored 250 runs across the three games. Within, Zepeda made her first international century in the 1st T20I, as well as an unbeaten 84 in the 3rd, as Austria proved dominant 3-0 victors.
In a year which saw Austria win their first T20I, Zepeda’s numbers – 361 runs at a 51 average, and two wickets – show her as a genuine star of European women’s cricket.
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