Johannesburg - The International Cricket Council, underlined Lizelle Lee’s status as one of the most destructive white ball players in the sport, by naming her the Women’s ODI Cricketer of the Year on Monday.
For 29 year old Lee, its reward for years of hard work that have led to a level of consistency in the last few seasons which has made her one of the premier limited overs batters in the world, who is sought after in the biggest women’s franchise tournaments in Australia and England Lee finished 2021 as the highest run-score in the 50 over format, scoring 632 runs at an average of 90.28, that included a century against India and five half-centuries during the year.
“Its a massive honour. “It’s amazing,” Lee said of the honour. “There are so many people to give credit to. My family has been my no.1 supporter, my wife (Tanya Cronje) and I have to give credit to the coaching staff, if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t even be able to play.”
Lee cited her hundred against India in Luck now and the unbeaten 91 she scored against the West Indies in Antigua as he best innings’ last year. The 132* in the third ODI against India was a crucial knock in terms of the series, with Lee holding the South African run chase together as the Proteas took a series lead which they eventually turned into a win.
It was a career best knock in a chase of 249, in which Lee mixed caution with aggression and kept building partnerships, first with Laura Wolvaardt and then with Lara Goodall. She then shared a 97-run partnership with Mignon du Preez. It looked like they would take South Africa home, but India came back into the game by picking up two wickets. With rain around the corner, Lee hit three fours and a six in three overs to put South Africa ahead of the DLS par score. South Africa eventually ended up winning the match by 6 runs on the DLS method.
“The 91 not out, I thought was one of my best, because it came in such a hard fought game,” Lee said of her innings in the first ODI against the West Indies. She finished that series as the leading run-scorer, with three fifties in four innings.
With the World Cup on the horizon, Lee will be a crucial part of the Proteas’ plans for that event and with the team having recently been struck a blow with captain Dane van Niekerk missing the tournament with an injury, the recognition for Lee is a timely fill-up.