UAE's opening batter Esha Oza has been named ICC Women's Associate Cricketer of 2022, cricket's governing body announced on Wednesday.
While Oza has enjoyed an admirable start to her international career since debuting in 2018, the batting all-rounder made 2022 her own with a long list of strong performances in T20I cricket.
"Honored, Humbled and grateful," the 24-year-old cricketer wrote on Facebook after winning the award.
"2022 has been a year of success, failures , harsh lessons and invaluable learnings. Achieving this would not have been possible without the support from Family, friends, teammates and coaches.
"I’ve trained at various academies since I began playing cricket and I would like to thank the coaches from each of these academies!"
Prior to 2022, Oza had made just 463 T20I runs at 23.15, and a strike rate of 100.43. In 2022, the right-hander took it up a notch, making almost 700 runs across just 23 innings. Incredibly, Oza achieved this while taking on 16 different opponents over the year, across no less than four competitions and a bilateral series against Hong Kong.
Oza kickstarted her year with scores of 28* (14) and 67 (31) against Kuwait and Oman respectively at the Gulf Cricket Council T20 Championship Cup, though it pales in comparison to her spellbinding 158* (71) in the next game over Bahrain.
It took until her 12th innings of the year to finally be dismissed for single figures, and in that time, she made another hundred, this time an effort of 115 (67) against Qatar in the ACC Women’s T20 Championship, in a tournament they went on to win.
Oza was also standout at the T20 World Cup Qualifier on home soil, making strong contributions in UAE's wins over USA and Zimbabwe, and at one point was the fastest (by innings) to reach 1000 T20I runs, only to be usurped by Tanzania's Fatima Kibasu late last year.
It is understood that the UAE with three venues — Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah — are favourites to host the tournament but the decision has been withheld for the time being
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