Gardner claims second Belinda Clark Award

Ashleigh Gardner's heroics in Trent Bridge Ashes Test see her edge past Ellyse Perry to claim the prestigious award

Ashleigh Gardner has won her second Belinda Clark Award in three years, after standout period that saw her rewrite the record books with the red ball and strengthen her credentials as one of the world's leading allrounders.

Gardner was officially crowned Australia's best women's cricketer from the past 12 months at the Australian Cricket Awards on Wednesday night, adding to the honour she received in 2022.

Ashleigh Gardner's memorable 12 months

Test: M: 2 | W: 17 | Ave: 16.64| BBI: 8-66 | BBM: 12-165 |Inns: 4 | Runs: 59 | Ave: 14.75 | HS: 40


ODIs: M: 11 | W: 20 | Ave: 18.55 | Eco: 4.55 | BBI: 3-38 | Inns: 7 | Runs: 199 | Ave: 33.16 | SR: 117.06 | 50s: 1 | HS: 65


T20Is: M: 17 | HS: 32 |W: 19 | Ave: 22.74 | Eco: 7.49 | BBI: 5-12 | Inns: 15 | Runs: 241 | Ave: 24.1 | SR: 118.14

(* Figures for voting period Jan 22, 2023 – Jan 9, 2024)

The 26-year-old allrounder totalled 147 votes to win the award ahead of Ellyse Perry with 134 votes, while Annabel Sutherland finished third with 106 votes, under the system that factors in votes from players, team officials, media and umpires.

The voting period took in last January's T20Is against Pakistan, the T20 World Cup in South Africa, the multi-format Ashes, ODI tour of Ireland, the home ODIs and T20Is against West Indies and the multi-format tour of India.

During that time, which spanned January 22 2023 to January 9 2024, Gardner took more wickets than any other Australian woman across all formats, claiming 56 in 30 matches at 19.39 – miles ahead of Georgia Wareham (30 at 21.13) and Megan Schutt (28 at 23.36).

Gardner is now part of a star-studded club of players to have won the Belinda Clark Award on more than one occasion, joining Karen Rolton (four awards), Shelley Nitschke (four), Meg Lanning (three), Ellyse Perry (three), Beth Mooney (two) and Lisa Sthalekar (two).

The off-spinner last year set a new world record for most wickets in a calendar year by any female, with her 58 eclipsing the 56 taken by Sophie Ecclestone a year prior, and in far fewer matches – 29 compared to the England star's 39.

It was Gardner's heroics in the Test arena in particular that helped the New South Wales native claim the award.

With Australia looking for their first Test win since 2015 when they met England at Trent Bridge in June, Gardner spun her team to victory, taking 12-165 for the match, eclipsing the previous Test haul best by an Australian woman, Betty Wilson's 11-16 at Junction Oval in 1958.

The off-spin bowling allrounder captured 4-99 in England's first innings, but it was her devastating display in the second innings that secured a memorable win.

Set 268 to win, England had cantered to 0-55 in 10 overs in their second dig late on day four.

Then, Gardner entered the fray, producing a match-turning three-wicket spell that removed the star trio of Tammy Beaumont, Heather Knight and Natalie Sciver-Brunt in the space of three overs.

Gardner grabs ascendancy for Australia with three wickets

The stage was set for the 25-year-old going into day five, with the Australians needing five wickets and England requiring 152 runs for victory.

Gardner rose to the occasion, spinning the tourists to a famous victory as they took just 90 minutes to roll through the remainder of the English batting line-up.

Her off-spin accounted for all five of those scalps as she finished with figures of 8-66 for the innings and 12-165 for the match.

Only Pakistan's Shaiza Khan has produced better figures in Test, taking 13-226 against West Indies in 2004.

When Australia travelled to India for their first Test on the subcontinent in almost 40 years, it was Gardner who produced a herculean effort in what was ultimately a Test defeat.

In all, she sent down bowled 41 of the 126.3 overs faced by India in their first innings – including more than a third of the total overs on day two – taking four wickets for her efforts.

To put that workload into perspective, Gardner was the first Australian woman to bowl more than 40 overs in a Test innings since pace great Cathryn Fitzpatrick against England during the 2005 Ashes.

While Gardner generated the most headlines for her antics in the Test arena, she was also influential in white-ball cricket – again, mostly with the ball in hand.

She was named Player of the Tournament when Australia won a third-straight T20 World Cup in South Africa last February, for a campaign that saw her take 10 wickets at 12.5 and score 110 runs at a strike rate of 119.56.

Gardner was also Australia's most prolific wicket taker in ODIs, bagging 20 from 11 matches at an average of 18.55.

It was a quieter year with bat in hand for the allrounder, who scored 499 runs in 26 innings and whose sole fifty came when she hammered 75 from 39 balls in an ODI against Ireland in Dublin.