18/04/2024
After being postponed from early last year, due to COVID-19, the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup will be finally underway on Friday with Australia's first game to take place on Saturday.

After being postponed from early last year, due to COVID-19, the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup will be finally underway on Friday with Australia’s first game to take place on Saturday.

The Teams

The Women’s Cricket World Cup will include eight teams with the host nation, New Zealand automatically qualifying. Then Australia, England, South Africa, and India qualified through the 2017-2020 ICC Women’s Championship.

The final three spots were meant to be contested in the 2021 Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier, however, this was cancelled halfway through and WODI (World One-Day International) rankings were used instead.

This meant that Bangladesh, Pakistan, and the West Indies qualified. Sri Lanka is the most notable omission, missing out on participating in six World Cup events.

Australia goes in as the favourites to take out the tournament and with revenge on their mind. They sit on top of the ODI rankings and have lost two of the ODIs they have played since the loss in the last ODI World Cup. Outside of the Australians, their biggest competition consists of the second-ranked ODI side in South Africa, New Zealand, and the defending champions in England.

With COVID-19 being a large factor in the availability of players, each team will have a 15 player squad to choose their teams from each game. Matches can go ahead if nine players or more are available within each squad. This would include two female staff substitutes which can be used in non-batting and non-bowling roles if needed to make up the nine-player team.

Australian National Women’s Cricket Team during the ODI portion of the Ashes series (Photo: cricket.com.au)

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The Venues

The final of the tournament will be played at Hagley Oval in Christchurch which has a capacity of 18,000 seats. The other games throughout the tournament will be played at Eden Park (Auckland), Seddon Park (Hamilton), University Oval (Dunedin), and Basin Reserve (Wellington). The first game will be played at Bay Oval at Mount Maunganui.

Australia

Australia is the most favoured to win the entire tournament with an impressive ODI record since the last World Cup in 2017. They have won 29 out of the last 31 ODIs they have played with many stars within the team as well as new up-and-coming talents.

The one loss to end their world-record winning streak came at the hands of India in the third ODI in September. This was loss was set up by Jhulan Goswami taking down Australia with bat and ball, taking three wickets, and hitting the winning runs.

When looking at even more recent form, Australia has looked as hot as ever, winning all the recent ODIs against England in the Ashes as the most recent example.

The depth of the squad is enviable across all disciplines. With Alyssa Healy scoring less than 100 runs in the ODIs against England, it was Ellyse Perry, Meg Lanning, or Beth Mooney that stood up in each of those three matches in her stead. Australia has the firepower to blow teams away or chase down big totals.

Revenge on Australia’s mind

After losing the 2017 semi-final in the ODI World Cup, Australia has been working hard to make amends. For the last five years since they have had their eye on this year’s trophy to atone for the loss against India. On this day, Harmanpret Kaur scored 171 runs off just 115 balls in one of the most dominant batting displays.

Harmanpreet Kaur Renegades
Indian star batter Harmanpreet Kaur (Photo: Melbourne Renegades WBBL/Twitter)

They have been using the winning form from the last year to create momentum and have been instilled by the confidence gained from being the best ODI side at the moment to try and move on from the devastation.

When speaking to media on Monday, Meg Lanning says that a big factor in the more well-rounded team that she now has at her disposal is the Women’s Big Bash League.

Lanning says it has given the side more solid experience and hopes that what they have learned will help them when playing for Australia.

As well as this, the adaptability of the squad as a whole is at a whole new level, with many all-rounders and pace bowlers of all different variations for Lanning to utilise.

The amount of time and turnover in players through the Australian set-up means that there is also a lot of new faces within the current squad.

Talents like Annabel Sutherland, Darcie Brown, and Tahlia McGrath have all shown their ability through the WBBL which has translated into international form.

Darcie Brown for example has played for the Adelaide Strikers team for the past two years with most of her opportunity coming in the past season at the international level.

She took 15 wickets over the course of the tournament and was a big reason for her side’s top-four placing. The other thing she has brought into both the Strikers and Australian teams is her partnership with mentor and fellow bowler Megan Schutt.

This has now presented Australia with another quality pace option, one that can partner with Schutt and hold down one end which can create wicket-taking opportunities.

Darcie Brown is feeling good ahead of the World Cup (Image: cricket.com.au)

Australia’s record in New Zealand

Australia has an impressive record across the ditch, having played 97 ODIs in total in New Zealand, they have only lost 21 matches. Giving them a 70% winning record which should give the squad great confidence.

In the last ODI series in New Zealand in March 2021, the Australians completed a 3-0 sweep. They played all three ODIs at Mount Maunganui with Megan Schutt (seven wickets) featuring heavily with the ball along with Jess Jonassen (4 wickets).

Alyssa Healy and Rachael Haynes were the biggest contributors with the bat with 155 runs and 101 runs respectively.

With all four of the biggest performers in this series in good form heading into the World Cup, the Australian supporters should be confident that this team has what it takes to take a seventh World Cup.

The Warm-Up Games

Australia has played in two warm-up games against the West Indies and New Zealand, their first competitive hitouts since the Ashes.

In the first game against the West Indies, Australia enjoyed an emphatic victory. They posted a big total of 7-259 with the bat with Ellyse Perry showing her class 66 runs among four Australian batters to post half-centuries.

In the second warm-up game, Australia was thrashed by a big-hitting New Zealand side. With Suzie Bates (63), Sophie Devine (161), and Amelia Kerr (92) all getting ahold of the Aussie attack.

After the match, Matthew Mott said that this match serves as ‘a kick up the backside’ before the main tournament starts. He also stated that with nine bowling options used, they were testing their options.

The positive for the Aussies out of this game was the batting performance where they managed to get a total of 322. Meg Lanning lead the way with the bat with 87 runs to her name among four batters again reaching the half-century mark.

The Australian Squad

Meg Lanning (Captain), Rachael Haynes (Vice-Captain), Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Grace Harris, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Beth Mooney, Tahlia McGrath, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Amanda-Jade Wellington. 

Heather Graham and Georgia Redmayne will be the travelling reserves and Ashleigh Gardner will be unavailable for the first two games after testing positive to COVID-19.

In the ODI rankings, this squad features the highest-ranked ODI bowler (Jess Jonassen), batter (Alyssa Healy and all-rounder (Ellyse Perry). It also features four of the top ten batters (Healy, Meg Lanning, Beth Mooney, and Ellyse Perry), three of the top ten bowlers (Jonassen, Megan Schutt, and Perry), and three of the top ten all-rounders (Perry, Jonassen and Ash Gardner).

This is one of the features of this team, they are stacked with talent in all facets of the game, and with all types of bowlers featuring on the ODI rankings, they are a phenomenal team.

Allyssa Healy and Ellyse Perry celebrate following their T-20 World Cup victory (Source: Sydney Sixers www.sydneysixers.com.au)

Players to Watch

Annabel Sutherland

With Ashleigh Gardner being ruled out of at least the first two matches with a positive test for COVID-19, Annabel Sutherland is one of many players in line to take her spot in the playing XI.

After a whirlwind summer, in which being presented in her baggy green was one of the highlights, Sutherland got to show her wares at international level. She paired with Alana King to produce the draw that seemed to be England’s test match to win. This performance along with being able to find her feet within the Australian set-up proves that she is one to watch in the World Cup.

The all-rounder had a fantastic showing in the warm-up against the West Indies on Saturday where she hit 54 off 37 balls. When bowling she also contributes wickets for her team when needed and she picked up 2-19 in just six overs.

Annabel Sutherland took a career-best 4-31 against England, as Australia completed an ODI sweep at the Junction Oval in the final game of the Womens Ashes. Image: @AusWomensCricket/ Twitter

Tahlia McGrath

Afte monster series’ against India and then England, Tahlia McGrath is going from strength to strength becoming one of the best young Australian talents going around. She won the Player of the Series award in both Australia’s international series’ this summer.

Now a walk-up starter, McGrath will look to further enhance her cricketing career with a World Cup to add to her growing list of accolades.

Tahlia McGrath was instrumental in Australia’s miraculous win with both bat and ball. (Image: ICC/Twitter)

Ellyse Perry

As they always say form is temporary but class is permanent and in the case of Ellyse Perry, she has always been in the elite class when it comes to longer-form cricket. She seems to have regained her touch and regained her confidence in the games leading up until the World Cup with her eyes squarely on the trophy.

In the warm-up game on Sunday, she hit a half-century and picked up two wickets. She can be a real barometer for her team and being back in form will spell trouble for batters and bowlers alike.

Australian star all-rounder Ellyse Perry (Image: cricket.com.au)

Australia’s World Cup Fixture

March 5: England at Seddon Park (Hamilton)

March 8: Pakistan at Bay Oval (Tauranga)

March 13: New Zealand at Basin Reserve (Wellington)

March 15: West Indies at Basin Reserve (Wellington)

March 19: India at Eden Park (Auckland)

March 22: South Africa at Basin Reserve (Wellington)

March 25: Bangladesh at Basin Reserve (Wellington)

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