Before the Super 6 stages began, we said that six days was an awfully long time in World Cup Cricket. Well, 5 days of a Super 6 stage can be an even longer time in some ways. And how.
If the Group stages had seen some shocks, frankly, this was something else entirely. Going into a final day where almost any permutations were possible – of the remaining four teams, only Australia were guaranteed a spot in the final; any of England, New Zealand or the West Indies could conceivably have been considered favourites to meet them there.
The prior matches had been an instructive exercise in the increasingly competitive nature of international women’s cricket. Australia defeated England by just 2 runs to leave the holders on the brink; New Zealand crushed Sri Lanka; West Indies scraped past South Africa; Australia took Sri Lanka apart with frightening ease; England hammered the South Africans; West Indies surprisingly defeated the White Ferns. And so, the final day’s permutations.
Perhaps the signs were there from the outset. The only team with their fate in their own hands, the West Indies were facing a team who had crushed all before them, yet went into their final match knowing qualification was already guaranteed. Nonetheless, the Windies’ victory over huge favourites Australia represented a crushing blow for the 2009 finalists, England and New Zealand.
For the West Indies, a first final in Women’s World Cup history and – astonishingly – qualification as winners of the Super 6 stages. For England, the ultimate punishment for narrow (yet entirely deserved and largely self-inflicted) defeats to Sri Lanka and Australia. For New Zealand a chastening step backwards from their scintillating pre-tournament form.
For women’s cricket? A fantastic advert for the increased competitiveness of the international game; an ability to demonstrate that the biggest prizes aren’t the reserve of the one or two teams at the very top; an opportunity to show the wider world just how nail-biting one day cricket can still be. Bring on the final.
The Super Six Table
West Indies – 8 (qualify in top position by virtue of superior run rate)
Australia – 8 (will contest the final as runners-up)
England – 6 (will face New Zealand in the 3rd/4th place play off)
New Zealand – 4 (will face England in the 3rd/4th place play off)
South Africa – 2 (will face Sri Lanka in the 5th/6th place play off)
Sri Lanka – 2 (will face South Africa in the 5th/6th place play off)
7th – India (defeated Pakistan in the 7th/8th place play off)
8th – Pakistan (lost to India in the 7th/8th place play off)