Stellar performers from three different countries make it to the shortlist for the ICC Men’s Player of the Month Award for February 2023.
Harry Brook took his budding Test career to greater heights in February, scoring two fifties and a hundred. The 24-year-old scored just six runs in his first cricketing engagement of the month, an ODI against South Africa.
Brook, however, picked up the pace after switching to Test cricket, a format where his performances during the tour of Pakistan had seen him win the ICC Men’s Player of the Month for December 2022.
In the first Test against New Zealand at Mount Maunganui, Brook hit half-centuries in both innings. Coming in at number five in the first innings, Brook smashed 15 fours and a six during his blistering 89 from 81 deliveries.
In the second dig, Brook got a rapid 54 from 41, hitting seven fours and two sixes during his knock. He was awarded the Player of the Match award for his efforts in an emphatic England win.
Things still got better at a personal level for Brook in the second Test at Wellington. Walking in at a precarious 21/3 in England’s first innings, the Yorkshire batter smashed a career-best 186 from 176 balls, which saw him hit 24 fours and five sixes.
His stand of 302 runs with Joe Root, helped England into the driving seat. His medium pace also earned him a maiden wicket in the game, that of the renowned New Zealand batter Kane Williamson.
Brook was unfortunate to get a diamond duck during the second innings, as England went on to lose the game by one run. Still, his efforts saw him earn the Player of the Series award.
India’s star all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja celebrated his return to international cricket after an injury lay-off by delivering back-to-back match-winning performances for his side.
During the first Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy at Nagpur, Jadeja ran through Australia’s middle-order in the first innings. The 34-year-old picked up superb figures of 5/47 as the tourists were floored for 177. In response, after India had lost half their side while they were nine runs in deficit, Jadeja (70 runs) forged crucial partnerships with Rohit Sharma and Axar Patel to ensure that his team got a substantial lead.
His 2/34 helped bundle Australia out for an innings defeat.
The Saurashtra player continued his splendid run in Delhi. He got the crucial wicket of Australia’s top-scorer Usman Khawaja on the way to 3/68 in the first innings. The all-rounder came good with the bat as well, scoring a crucial 26 in an important 59-run stand for the fifth wicket.
His best, however, came in the second innings. At the end of the second day’s play, it seemed like Australia had an advantage with a lead of 62 runs and nine wickets in hand.
On the morning of the third day, Jadeja’s slow left-arm orthodox spin ripped through the Australia line-up, bowling the tourists out for 113. His 7/42 turned the game on its head, as India went on to secure a comfortable six-wicket win.
Jadeja’s performances saw him win the Player of the Match award in both games.
After a sedate start to his career on a seaming wicket at North Sound last June, Gudakesh Motie came to his own during West Indies’ tour of Zimbabwe in February.
Motie picked 19 wickets in the two-Test series to help his side secure a 1-0 series win. In the first Test at Bulawayo, the left-arm spinner had an ordinary start picking 2/110 in the first innings. However, the Motie magic started in the second innings and the spinner didn’t look back after that.
Motie picked 4/50 from his 24 overs as Zimbabwe had to fight out to earn a draw.
Come the second Test at the same venue, Motie was in top form. Zimbabwe batters had no answer to his turn and guile, as the Guyana player picked 13/99 in an innings victory for his team. His performance won him both Player of the Match and Player of the Series awards.
West Indies, who have yearned for a world-class spin option in red-ball cricket for years, will hope that Motie builds on this exceptional beginning to serve them well in the near future.
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