Award: ICC Associate Member Women’s Performance of the Year
The winner of this award will be for the women’s on-field performance of the year by an Associate Member in an ICC event or bilateral cricket.
Winner: Thailand Women – vs Ireland, Match 9, Group B, ICC T20 World Cup Qualifiers 2019 in Scotland
At the ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2020 in Australia, the journey of the Thailand Women's team reached a pinnacle. Their considerable skills, effervescent smiles and positivity won them new fans; the respect they showed the game and their opponents earned them respect in return. They gave several teams a strong fight and came close to toppling Pakistan before rain played spoilsport.
But all these achievements in Australia were built on another milestone in their journey, during the ICC Women's T20 World Cup Qualifier 2019 in Scotland.
Thailand’s biggest test in those global qualifiers had been Ireland, who were regular participants in Women’s T20 World Cups. And toppling Ireland in that tournament was crucial to Thailand's ambitions.
On that damp September day, in a match reduced to 17 overs, Thailand posted 92/7, with Ireland set a DLS-adjusted target of 93. The onus was on the bowlers, and they stepped up, showing character and executing their plans beautifully in trying conditions.
Suleeporn Laomi picked up 3/17 with her leg-spin, while Chanida Sutthiruang, who was outstanding with her in-swing bowling all-tournament, conceded just three runs in the penultimate over and took one wicket to finish with 3/14.
It all came down to the final ball. Ireland needed three runs to win off the last ball bowled by Onnicha Kamchomphu. But batter Lara Maritz stepped down the track to go for a boundary and was stumped, as Thailand pulled off a famous win.
It was their third win over Ireland in a month, taking them to the top the group and setting them up for pole position to qualify. They eventually beat PNG to seal their World Cup berth, a moment that was marked by pure joy, tears and celebration in the dressing room.
This victory was a turning point, paving the way for them to become the first South-East Asian nation to qualify for a T20 World Cup.
The Thailand Cricket Association described the team’s achievements as "an inspiration for aspiring female cricketers amongst developing Associate nations”. Shan Khader, the development manager, explained, "Thailand, having no affiliation historically of being colonised (by the British) or the sport (of cricket), have excelled considerably in the past decade.
"The national women’s team consists of ethnic Thai girls that are the product of Thailand’s coaching system over the past decade. These girls are resilient because of their upbringing and have accomplished what many thought was impossible in qualifying for the T20 World Cup.
"The Thailand women’s team is an example of pure grit, determination and devotion to succeed.
"[They have] shown the way for other indigenous females from similar backgrounds and demographics, that becoming a top flight cricket team or player is possible and not a thing of fairy-tales."