With a growing presence and swiftly developing international recognition, women’s cricket has been one of the real success stories of women’s sport in recent years. Today marks the beginning of the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka, culminating with a final played out in Colombo on October 7th. Excitingly – and in a move matched recently by the ECB in certain matches – the semi-finals will be played out alongside the men’s event; a fantastic move toward sporting equality.
For now, and to aid in your cricketing pleasure, we have profiles the teams and some players to keep an eye out for.
Like their male counterparts, Australia’s women’s team have an exceptional international pedigree coming into the tournament as holders and on the back of consecutive 4-1 series wins over New Zealand and India.
One to Watch – Lisa Sthalekar
Now 33 years of age, Indian born Lisa Sthalekar tops the ICC T20 bowling rankings having taken 56 wickets in her 46 match T20 career. Currently bowling arguably the best figures of her career, with 15 wickets in 9 matches this year, Shtalekar’s right arm deliveries will be crucial to Australian hopes in this tournament.
Semi Finals – then, who knows?
A bit of an enigma, India have performed well enough in the two T20 World Cups so far to reach the semi-finals, but lack the cutting edge to press onto the final challenge. In a manner that will come as no surprise to fans of the wider game, India traditionally struggle in Western conditions and have lost warm up series to both Australia and England. That said sub-continent conditions may play into their hands this time around.
One to Watch – Mithali Raj
Captain and leading batswoman Mithali Raj boasts a T20 batting average of over 31.3 and has broken the half century barrier on 3 occasions to date. The top ranked ICC Batswoman in the one day format (though she ‘only’ holds the third ranking in the T20 format), Mithali Raj will look to hold India’s middle order together.
Depends on the conditions, but may struggle to get out of an exceptionally difficult group
With a burgeoning reputation and improved profile throughout the country, English women’s cricket is in a good place. Winners of the inaugural tournament in 2009, England failed to meet expectations in 2010 departing at the Group stages. Better things will be expected in this tournament.
One to Watch – Sarah Taylor
A superstar in the making, 23 year-old Sarah Taylor has proven a phenomenon within the women’s cricketing world with over 3,000 runs already accumulated in non-Test match formats. In 39 T20 innings, Taylor has a high score of 73, 7 half centuries, an average of almost 31 and a strike rate of over 112. Aggressive and rangy, Taylor will look to put bowling attacks on the back foot from the early stages throughout the tournament.
Should make the semi finals, at the very least and in with a genuine shot at the title. That said, these are different conditions for the team to adapt to; their ability to do so swiftly will be vital.
Comfortable in sub-continental conditions, Pakistan remain a developing force in women’s cricket and come into this tournament having never won a match at T20 World Cup level. In a Group containing three strong teams, they may be lucky to break their duck here.
One to Watch – Javeria Khan
Once an all-rounder, Khan is now limited to plying her trade as a specialist batswoman having been adjudged to possess an illegal bowling actions. Familiarity with sub-continental conditions may aid her here, but T20 is not a format for fire fighting and this may be the best Pakistan can hope for.
Low. Very, very low.
The nearly-women of the T20 World Cup, New Zealand have never lost a game during the T20 tournament before the final stage. Unfortunately, they have lost both of these, to England in 2009 and Australia in 2010. Hopes may be high, but they do not come into this tournament in the best of form, having suffered a 4-0 series defeat to England earlier in the year.
One to Watch – Suzie Bates
25 year-old Captain and all-rounder for the White Ferns, Suzie Bates enjoys strong batting and bowling averages for the early Group B favourites. Boasting the team’s highest batting average, as well as its highest score, Bates is no stranger to the big occasion – she represented her country during the 2008 Olympic Games in basketball.
Have to win the Group, thereafter much will depend on the semi-final draw and their own ability to forget about past defeats in T20 Finals. A threat to the latter stages, and nobody should write them off.
Hopeless in 2009, given no hope in 2010, the West Indians pulled off the shock of the tournament to dispose of England in the Group stages and make it through to the semi finals. The less said about that the better, though, as they were summarily dispatched by Group B counterparts New Zealand.
One to Watch – Stafanie Taylor
One of the West Indian powerhouses, Taylor boasts over 80 international appearances at the tender age of 21. A true all-rounder, the right-hander marked her T20 debut with a breath taking 90 from 49 balls, demonstrating her ability to smash through a bowling line up with frightening ease. An accomplished bowler, Taylor’s bowling average is comparable to the best in the game and her 33 wickets claimed at 16.12 marks her out as a threat with both bat and ball.
Frankly, who knows? On paper, with a stronger team than in 2010, the West Indies should make the semi-finals and have a genuine shot at utilising their power to make it through to the very end. Sub-continental conditions could prove tricky, though, and this is not a consistent team.
The hosts don’t possess the strongest T20 World Cup pedigree, having registered victories against only Pakistan in each of the tournaments to date. On home soil they may prove a different proposition, but a group containing New Zealand and the West Indies may be a step too far.
One to Watch – Chamani Seneviratna
A right-arm medium bowler with some batting pedigree, Seneviratna’s 16 innings have yielded 19 wickets at an average of below 14 and her ability to strangle a game while presenting a wicket-taking threat may be one of Sri Lanka’s strongest hopes. Knowing the conditions will help, but if the West Indies and New Zealand find their range against this Sri Lankan bowling attack, the results could be ugly.
Home advantage could play a part and if other sides fail to adapt to the notoriously flighty sub-continental conditions, Sri Lanka could have a chance of reaching the latter stages. To do this they will need to perform well against South Africa and pull off a major shock against New Zealand or a lesser one against the Windies. Group stages and a strong showing may be the best they can realistically hope for.
Certainly not the force of the South African men’s team, this SA side really struggles in the T20 format of the game, possessing neither a strong and aggressive batting line up, nor the frontline bowlers to restrict other teams. They have never won a match in the T20 World Cup and will struggle again this time around.
One to Watch – Shandra Fritz
Bowling a respectable right-arm medium, containing style, Fritzy’s batting is the reason she features so prominently in the South African team, holding an average of 26 and a high score of 116 not out. That century may be the only time she has reached the 50 mark, but Fritz has staying power and will be a dependable option for a limited South African team.
As low as Pakistan’s, and perhaps a notch lower. Good luck.