Netravalkar becomes the second repeat winner of the USA Bowler of the Year honor, following in the footsteps of legspinner Timil Patel who claimed the award in 2015 and 2016.
Photo credit: Peter Della Penna
By Peter Della Penna (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna
DreamCricket is once again celebrating USA’s top performers from the calendar year through the New Inning Foundation USA Cricket Awards. This edition of the awards recognizes performances in 2021.
The New Inning Foundation Bowler of the Year is California’s Saurabh Netravalkar. The left-arm pace bowler claims his second consecutive honor after walking away with the same award for 2019-20, and becomes the second two-time winner of the award after legspinner Timil Patel claimed the honor also on back-to-back occasions during 2015 and 2016.
Netravalkar claimed the most ODI wickets for USA on the year with 12 in six matches at an average of 16.16 and an economy rate of 3.86. He also took seven wickets in seven T20Is at an average of 18.28 and an economy rate of 5.86. Collectively, Netravalkar finished tied for the overall lead in wickets taken across all internationals for USA on the year with 19, joint-best with left-arm spinner Nisarg Patel. Separately, Netravalkar was also a spearhead of the champion Silicon Valley Strikers squad in the inaugural season of Minor League T20 franchise cricket, finishing tied for second on the team with 18 wickets despite missing several matches while away on international duty for USA.
However, Netravalkar secured the award for his consistent contributions in particular in winning performances against higher echelon competition. He kicked off USA’s resumption of international play last September with back-to-back miserly performances against Papua New Guinea, taking 2 for 23 in seven overs and 2 for 19 in 7.1 overs in a pair of ODI wins in Oman. Eight days later, he helped set up USA’s only win of the Cricket World Cup League Two tri-series portion of that same tour with a sensational death overs spell against Nepal, wiping out the middle order to spark a collapse from 140 for 4 to 174 all out claiming 4 for 29 in the process, a match-winning performance which became overshadowed in the chase by Steven Taylor’s 92 off 63 balls.
In the ICC Americas T20 World Cup Regional Qualifier in Antigua, Netravalkar was miserly without being incisive, producing a 4.92 economy rate across 14 overs in five matches while finishing with two wickets. However, he ended the year with a bang against Ireland, finishing as USA’s leading wicket-taker in the split two-match T20I series held at Florida in December. Netravalkar claimed the big wicket of Paul Stirling in the Powerplay during Ireland’s chase of USA’s 188, and eventually finished with 2 for 26 in a famous win. A day later, he improved on that with 3 for 33 in 3.5 overs, including the wickets of captain Andy Balbirnie and top-scorer Lorcan Tucker, helping to bowl out Ireland for 155 in just 18.5 overs in a match where USA fell short by nine runs.
All of these performances came during a season when Netravalkar gracefully stepped down from the national team captaincy, a position he had held for three years since being appointed in September 2018. Though he may no longer be in charge of the USA squad on the field, his bowling prowess didn’t take a step back. At age 30, Netravalkar showed he still has plenty left in the tank to contribute to USA over the coming years.
In recognition of his achievement, Netravalkar will receive a plaque as well as a $500 DreamCricket.com Pavilion Shop gift card sponsored by New Inning Foundation.