The Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswoman Award for November: Gaby Lewis (Cricket)
After yet another magical year for so many of our sportswomen, it was fitting that we finished up with a generous dollop of history in our monthly roll of honour, our cricket team producing a string of firsts with their T20I series win over Pakistan in Lahore.
A 3-0 defeat in their one-day international series against their hosts didn’t exactly augur well for Ireland when they began their three-match T20I series, but once they’d acclimatised to the conditions, they found their feet – and form.
By the end of the T20I series they had become the first Irish women’s side to win a series against Pakistan, the first to win an overseas series against a Test-playing nation and the first Irish side, male or female, to win a series against Pakistan. That’s a lot of history-making.
Gaby Lewis, with an unbeaten 69, and Orla Prendergast, who took three wickets for just 10 runs before scoring 39 off 25 deliveries, were the stand-out players in the opening match, which Ireland won by six wickets.
Pakistan then made it 1-1, so it all came down to that third match at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.
And the Laura Delany-captained team produced a quite brilliant performance, electing to bat after winning the toss, Delaney’s decision looking a decidedly wise one after openers Lewis and Amy Hunter put on a 110 run stand – just three short of the Irish record.
Lewis top scored with 71 off just 46 deliveries, including 12 boundaries, Hunter chipping in with 40, before Prendergast continued her success with the bat by adding 37 off 23 balls.
In the end, Ireland set Pakistan a target of 168, leaving their hosts needing to produce their highest-ever T20I chase if they were to win the series.
That task was beyond them, Ireland prevailing by 34 runs, three wickets apiece from Delany and Arlene Kelly, with Jane Maguire dismissing both openers, securing them a commanding victory.
Prendergast would have been a more than worthy choice for our November award, her form with bat and ball a major factor in Ireland’s success, but in the end we nudged towards 21-year-old Dubliner Lewis who was named player of the series.
Lewis, Prendergast and Co won’t be able to put their feet up for too long – on February 13th they open their T20 World Cup campaign against England in South Africa. Also in their group are India, the West Indies and . . . Pakistan. Deja vu, hopefully.
Monthly Winners - December 2021: Ellen Walshe (Swimming); January: Lucy Mulhall (Rugby); February: Leona Maguire (Golf); March: Rachael Blackmore (Horse racing; April: Katie Taylor (Boxing); May: Lisa O’Rourke and Amy Broadhurst (Boxing); June: Rhasidat Adeleke (Athletics); July: Niamh O’Sullivan (Gaelic football); August: Ciara Mageean (Athletics); September: Katie O’Brien (Rowing); October: Courtney Brosnan (Soccer) and Kellie Harrington (Boxing); November: Gaby Lewis (Cricket).