Minor League Cricket announced today the 2021 MVP awards for each of the league’s four divisions. More than 200 games took place in the inaugural Toyota Minor League Cricket Championship, the most extensive competition in American cricket history, with 27 teams competing nationwide. The championship title was claimed on Sunday by the Silicon Valley Strikers, who defeated the New Jersey Stallions by six wickets.
In the Atlantic Conference, winners of the divisional awards were Christopher Barnwell of the Empire State Titans in the East and Corne Dry of the Atlanta Fire in the South. In the Pacific Conference, the Michigan Cricket Stars’ Ryan Scott won the Central award, while Hammad Azam of the Golden State Grizzlies was the winner in the West.
Azam has already been named the overall 2021 Minor League Cricket Championship MVP. The Golden State Grizzlies’ star all-rounder led his team to the Western Division title, scoring 411 runs in 14 innings at an average of 51.38 and registering a blistering 184.30 strike rate (the best of any player to score over 300 runs in the season). The 30-year-old Azam also contributed with the ball, taking 12 wickets at an impressive economy rate of 5.83. Azam led the league’s overall Player Impact rankings, finishing 13% ahead of Barnwell in second place.
Ryan Scott, the Central Division MVP, scored 446 runs in 13 innings at a superb strike rate of 181.30, belting 38 sixes. The Michigan Cricket Star batter was the only player to record two centuries during the season. Scott’s 118 against the Houston Hurricanes on Aug. 14 was the first century recorded in Minor League Cricket, a match-winning effort that came off only 48 balls. Scott closed the season with his second century, scoring 107 from 49 balls against the Chicago Blasters.
In the Atlantic, Eastern Division MVP Barnwell helped lead the Empire State Titans to a divisional title, averaging 50.82 while compiling 559 runs in 16 innings at a strike rate of 151.49, with a top score of 114 not out versus the Manhattan Yorkers. The all-rounder smashed 45 sixes during the season while also contributing significantly with the ball, taking 15 wickets at an average of 19.27, registering a 6.62 economy rate.
The Southern Division MVP, Corne Dry, helped the Atlanta Fire to the division title. Dry led the Southern Division in wickets, which came at an average of only 14.07 at an excellent strike rate of a wicket every 12 deliveries. The South African also offered rapid late-order runs for the Fire, scoring 108 at a strike rate of 171.43.
The MVP awards were selected based on player performance throughout the season. The data reviewed included not only the raw metric statistics recorded from each match, but took into account league-wide Player Impact rankings that calibrate the contributions of each player to adjust for key factors that impact performance. Regular season Impact Rankings were released in September, and updated following the conclusion of the playoffs.
Critically, utilizing ball-by-ball data, these rankings factor in the impact of the pitch surface (artificial or natural turf) on batting and bowling along with accounting for the value of each individual contribution in a match situation, allowing for a holistic analysis of performance. More information about the league’s Player Impact rankings, developed independently by CricSims founder Tom Nielsen, can be found here and the full season rankings can be viewed here.