#SJA2017: big-hitter Beaumont’s bat out of heaven

The voting has opened for Sportsman, Sportswoman and Sports Team of the Year at the SJA British Sports Awards sponsored by the National Lottery. As far as JON BATHAM is concerned, there is only one woman in contention.

TAMSIN Beaumont gets my vote for SJA Sportswoman of the year – and here’s why.

While teammate Anya Shrubsole stole the headlines with the match-winning bowling stint in the final against India at Lord’s, Beaumont was named Player of the Tournament – recognition by the ICC she had done more than anyone to showcase the woman’s game on a global stage.

(Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Her 410 runs made her the leading run scorer – the crème de la crème of the best talent in the game – above such names as Indian captain Mithali Raj and Australia’s golden girl Ellyse Perry.

It brought the Kent opener/wicketkeeper full circle in a sporting journey which could have played out very differently.

Despite an ODI debut in 2009 and a Test cap four years later, a slump in form meant a year before the World Cup she had looked likely to be more spectator than pivotal participant.

Yet encouraged by new coach Mark Robinson to stop ‘Poking around’ and commit to hitting the ball, the former T20 specialist began to excel in all international formats.

Such was her upturn in fortunes she was a shoo-in by the time the tournament began, but less we forget she didn’t start well. Shorn of regular opening partner Lauren Winfield by injury, she was initially fretful.

She made just 14 in the opening defeat to India and was dropped first ball of the match against rank outsiders Pakistan. Beaumont didn’t make the most of the reprieve, falling cheaply to another rash shot. Failure against Sri Lanka next time out cranked up the pressure another notch.

Her turning point came courtesy of another timely chat from ‘Robbo’ on the eve of the clash with the dangerous South Africans – just a quiet word from the coach to relax, stop forcing the shots and believe in herself.

Just 24 hours later, in what was a must-win game for England after their Indian blip she flayed the much-vaunted Proteas attack for 148.

A hugely important 49 followed as favourites Australia were beaten before her 93 steadied England after an early wobble against the Kiwis and another 42 helped win a low-scoring affair against the West Indies.

While her contribution to the final was less dramatic, her catch at deep square to dismiss the belligerent Harmanpreet Kaur came with the game slipping away from the hosts.

Yes, her exploits came as part of a team game, but her liberal sprinklings of individual stardust were the bedrock of a World Cup win and as we all know those are not ten-a-penny on these shores.

At the time of writing it remains to be seen whether she can inspire an Ashes win down under too, but regardless, Beaumont has left an indelible mark on the sporting year and for that deserves your vote too.

Voting closes on Wednesday November 8.


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