PCA PRESS RELEASE
Pair round off season in style with September awards.
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Liam Norwell and Linsey Smith have rounded off their brilliant individual seasons by being voted your September PCA Players of the Month.
Norwell was the outstanding bowler for Warwickshire during an historic month for the Bears which saw them claim a first LV= County Championship title since 2012, before following it up with victory in the Bob Willis Trophy final at Lord’s just a week later.
The seam bowler’s wickets have won him the award and Norwell joins Matt Critchley (April), Simon Harmer (May, August), Harry Brook (June) and Tom Hartley (July) in having picked up a men’s PCA Player of the Month award this season.
It is a perfect end to a near-perfect season for Norwell, who spoke to the PCA about his whirlwind September: “It hasn’t sunk in yet. To win the County Championship and then go on to claim the Bob Willis Trophy is more than we ever could have hoped for at the start of the year. We’re confident in our ability but to actually go out and win it hasn’t sunk in, and I think that’s going to be the case for most of the lads.
“The win at Edgbaston was the absolute highlight. We won it late on the last day, our home support was absolutely outstanding, and there were mass celebrations. That day will live in my memory forever.
“It was incredibly special for everyone. Will Rhodes is a young captain, it was Mark Robinson’s first year at the club, and it’s basically the same team that struggled in red-ball cricket last year. We’re lucky that Dom Sibley and Chris Woakes came in to boost us at the end of the season, but it was just a great team effort. Everyone played a role throughout the season.”
Norwell’s individual highlights from September included match figures of 7-65 in a low-scoring victory over Yorkshire, which set Warwickshire on the path towards Championship glory.
The 29-year-old also claimed miserly figures of 2-9 from six overs as his side removed Lancashire for just 78 on a stunning first morning of the Bob Willis Trophy final at Lord’s.
“There have been a lot of highlights, but the win at Yorkshire was right up there. Myself, Craig Miles and Woakesy took 19 of the 20 wickets to fall and bowled really well as a unit. It was enjoyable getting to play with someone like Chris who you can learn so much from, and we obviously also won the game which put us right in the frame to win the title.
“I’ve had some tough years with injuries, so to end up as the leading wicket-taker in a team that wins the Championship is obviously pretty special."
“It was a mad morning at Lord’s. You don’t expect to bowl a team out for 78 when you win the toss and bowl, but Miles was superb, and it’s an honour to take the ball and open up at Lord’s. It’s something you really cherish and it’s not something you get to do very often. That will really stay with me.”
Warwickshire’s top Championship wicket-taker in an historic year for the club in red-ball cricket, Norwell has already set his sights on backing up a brilliant 2021 campaign.
“I’ve had some tough years with injuries, so it was just nice to be able to be fit for the entire season. To end up as the leading wicket-taker in a team that wins the Championship is obviously pretty special, and I was just glad to be a part of a team that did what we did.
“After a bit of time with the family, I’ll be working as hard as I can to keep my bowling at the same level as this year, and as a squad we’ll be making sure we’ll be doing everything we can to be right back in the title picture next year.”
Smith aims to build on successful season
A busy September for Smith saw her reach the final of both the Charlotte Edwards Cup and the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy with Northern Diamonds, and the left-arm spinner consistently took wickets in both competitions to be voted your final women’s PCA Player of the Month of 2021.
Smith joins her namesake Bryony Smith (June) and Eve Jones (July, August) in having picked up a women’s PCA Player of the Month award during the first season in which they have been up for grabs.
It is a deserved win for Smith, who was nominated for a second time in succession after also being in contention for the award in August: “It’s a great feeling. A pleasant surprise which I wasn’t expecting. All the four players who were nominated have had great months and seasons, so to win the PCA Player of the Month is a real honour.
“The competition is tough, so I never really think about winning the award despite having been nominated twice in a row. But it’s nice to win it this month and it tops off a great season for me personally.”
Smith, 26, has been the outstanding spin bowler in women’s domestic cricket this season, and this was recognised in her being included in the first ever PCA Women’s Team of the Year at the 2021 cinch PCA Awards.
However, the aspiring all-rounder, who was moved up the order to open against Southern Vipers in the RHF Trophy final, has outlined her ambitions to add further elements to her game.
“I didn’t know it was coming my way, but to be included in the first PCA Women’s Team of the Year was a real honour. It’s been a really good season and I think all the girls who were picked in the team had really good years, so it’s an honour to be amongst them.
“My coach Dani Hazell and I put in a lot of work together over the winter to work on being more of a threat in 50-over cricket, and I think my performances have shown that the hard work has paid off.
“I want to be seen as a genuine all-rounder. My batting is definitely coming along, so hopefully I can keep putting in performances which will show the coaches what I can do. We chose to open up with myself for the final and hopefully I’ll get more opportunities up there next year as well.”
"I was getting ready to hang my boots up for another season, but then you get that opportunity and it’s something you absolutely can’t say no to!"
The excitement doesn’t end here for Smith, as she has flown out to Australia to play for Melbourne Stars in the Women’s Big Bash League, an opportunity which she is relishing.
“I found out that I was going to play for the Stars the day after the RHF Trophy final. I was getting ready to hang my boots up for another season, but then you get that opportunity and it’s something you absolutely can’t say no to!
“It’s a really exciting time after a great season, so hopefully I can come out here, keep putting in some good performances and take lots of knowledge and learning from this experience.”