2021 was truly a remarkable year for individuals in the Women’s Competitions with the standard of performance being lifted right across the province to previously unheard of levels. As the overall standard rose however, so too did the performances of Ireland captain Laura Delany, as her exploits for Leinster CC in the 2021 season has seen her claim each of the awards for the leading batter and bowler in Division 1, as well as the leading overall all-rounder in all divisions.
CRAWFORD CUP – BATTING
Starting off with the Division One batting cup – the Crawford Cup. Delany began the season having not been dismissed in league cricket for over 18 months, her immovable nature again led the way in the batting stakes in the league this season. In 9 matches she batted 8 times, amassing 512 runs and getting out on just half of the occasions on which she batted, resulting in an amazing average of 128. The highlight of Delany’s season was undoubtedly her unbeaten century against Merrion in the Senior Cup semi-final at Anglesea Road in mid-July. Merrion’s bowlers were well on top throughout the innings, exemplified by the fact that Laura’s 106* accounted for more than two-thirds of her side’s total on that day, and whilst she was on the losing side that day it was certainly one of the best innings’ played all season.
The overall strength of the batting performances across Division One this season was further underlined by the fact that a further three batters averaged more than 80 during the season. Phoenix’s Lara Maritz was second, managing 423 runs at an average of 84.6, followed by YMCA captain Gaby Lewis who’s 416 runs came at an average of 83.2, with fourth place belonging to Merrion’s skipper Leah Paul, who made the most runs in the season with 567 at an also excellent average of 81.
Another startling stat on the batting front this season was that the all-time individual record for highest senior T20 score fell twice in the space of just three weeks. Firstly, Gaby Lewis made a dominant 126* as her side chased 168 in just 15 overs against Merrion in Anglesea Road, breaking her own previous record from 2019. However on August 12th, in the first round of fixtures after the split in the league, Phoenix’s Georgina Dempsey kicked the record to touch as Pembroke were on the receiving end of a brutal blitz of power in The Park. Dempsey’s 139* came from just 68 balls and included 14 fours and 5 maximums.
Laura Delany however was the model of consistency throughout the season, making runs at almost every opportunity she got at the wicket and as such a deserving winner of the Crawford Cup for the 2021 season.
HARRISON CUP – BOWLING
Next up is the Division One Bowling award – the Harrison Cup. Delany’s haul of 14 wickets came at an average of just 13.71 across the course of the season, but again she had one truly stand out performance which has helped propel her to the top of the tree on this occasion. In the Pilkington Plate encounter with Phoenix on July 18th – just days after the Senior Cup semi-final mentioned earlier – Delany produced the best bowling figures on record in Senior cricket. She took 8-12 as her side cut their hosts down from 75/2 when Delany entered the attack to be all out for 166 chasing Leinster’s first innings total of 216. Her consistency throughout the season saw Delany chip in with wickets elsewhere, in a season where her bowling has regained an excellent standard and ultimately saw her become a vital cog in the Irish bowling attack again.
A familiar name lies second to Delany in the bowling stakes, Georgina Dempsey’s raw pace also delivered 14 wickets, at the slightly greater average of 15.43, the highlight of her season would arguably have been the performance of the season any other year, with her 5/19 against Malahide including a hat-trick, helping Phoenix recover what seemed an impossible position. With their hosts 107/0 chasing 157 to win, Dempsey shredded Malahide’s middle order and tail as 10 wickets fell for just 17 runs.
Other bowlers to have slid under the bar of an average of 20 were Malahide’s Anna Kerrison, who took 12 wickets costing 15.83 apiece, Leinster’s Katie Dillon who claimed 16 wickets at an average of 16.44. Pembroke pair Mhairi Nicholl and Anna Beale took 16 and 14 wickets at averages of 18.56 and 18 respectively, with the list rounded off by Rachel Delaney of Merrion who took 16 wickets at an average of exactly 19.
Again however in the bowling stakes, Laura Delany stood well above the rest with her average putting her well clear of Georgina Dempsey and making her the winner of the Harrison Cup for 2021.
HOWARD CUP – ALL-ROUNDERS
Delany’s final gong for the mantelpiece is the Howard Cup – this is for the leading all-rounder across all divisions of Women’s Competitions and is based on a system of 1 point per run and 10 points per wicket, the player with the highest average points per game is deemed to be the winner of the award.
Delany’s 512 runs and 14 wickets are enough to secure her 652 points, which when divided out give her an average of 72.44. Her all-rounder credentials were underlined in a game which we’ve already looked at in the bowling award, as was noted above, Delany took 8/12 to help her side defend 216 in the Pilkington Plate tie, however her performance in the first innings was also something to behold. The Ireland skipper made 112 from 93 balls to see her side all the way from 19/2 to be last out having guided her side to a competitive total. Her all-round score for that game alone is 252, over three times her average points, showing just how dominant and complete a performance it was.
There are two names that have, unsurprisingly, been mentioned before occupying 2nd and 3rd spot on the leaderboard. Phoenix’s Georgina Dempsey was second with her 558 points averaging out at 50.73 points per game, whilst Merrion’s Rachel Delaney amassed 589 points but averaged just 42.07 per game. After the top three, another one of Rush’s excellent youth products Ellie McGee was in 4th place, she managed the most points of any player, with 713 however her average was just 35.65, although that shouldn’t take away from an excellent performance by the Rush youngster to accumulate so many points in the first instance.
Although it may have seemed like a forgone conclusion that Laura Delany would win the all-rounder’s award having already mopped up the batting and bowling award, the slightly varying criteria of average points per game obviously adds another level in rewarding consistency of performance, which Delany delivered in abundance this season.
A massive congratulations to Laura from all at Cricket Leinster on this unprecedented achievement – claiming each of the Crawford Cup, Harrison Cup and Howard Cup for the 2021 season!