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Cricketers of the year

Nat Sciver-Brunt - The Leading Women's Cricketer in the World in 2023

England batter was the pre-eminent performer across formats in the women's game

Raf Nicholson
Raf Nicholson
Nat Sciver-Brunt scored the fastest hundred by an Englishwoman  •  Getty Images

Nat Sciver-Brunt scored the fastest hundred by an Englishwoman  •  Getty Images

Nat Sciver-Brunt once said her broad shoulders were her most distinctive feature. It's both literally true - her batting packs serious punch - and the perfect metaphor: those shoulders bear the weight of every team she represents.
Her bowling took a back seat in 2023 due to a knee injury, but she made up for it with the bat. She was England's leading run-scorer in both one-day internationals (393, with a strike-rate of 107) and T20s (364, and 135). And she was their outstanding performer in the T20 World Cup and the Ashes.
She struck three ODI centuries, more than anyone in the world, from just five innings, including - unforgettably - two in the two last matches of the Ashes, as England came from 6-0 down on points to draw the multiformat series 8-8.
"We surprised people," she says. "We were written off, and we kept coming back. I feel very proud about that."
Sciver-Brunt had begun the year by securing a £320,000 contract from Mumbai Indians in the inaugural Women's Premier League, the joint-highest bid for an overseas player. Overnight, that made her the best-paid female team athlete in the UK. Even then, her franchise got a bargain: she scored 332 runs at 66, as Mumbai stormed to the title.
Since her England debut in July 2013, Sciver-Brunt's numbers have always been impressive. Since the pandemic, her game has been stratospheric: in July 2023, she topped the ODI batting rankings for the first time. She was still there at the end of the year.
"Growing older helps," she says. "I've got more experience. When I was young, I just played how I wanted to play, and didn't think too much about the consequences. I've grown up a lot."
Perhaps her real gift is an ability to elevate team-mates by her mere presence. In September, with Sciver-Brunt rested, England suffered a humiliating T20 series defeat at home by Sri Lanka. When their taliswoman returned for the ODIs, they hammered the same opponents by seven wickets and 161 runs.
In the second win, at Leicester, she hit a 66-ball hundred, England's fastest. In India in December, she gave England the perfect start to a T20 series they ended up winning, with a typically powerful 53-ball 77.
Asked about her capacity to motivate others, she says simply: "My natural instinct is to try to help people." It's a good thing those shoulders are so broad.

Raf Nicholson is a writer on and historian of women's cricket. @RafNicholson