After launching in 2009, the Women’s T20 World Cup has grown in stature alongside the athletes we go along to cheer. This year’s edition will take place in Australia, with the Australian Women’s Cricket team the dominant squad of world cups past. Featuring in five of the six finals and taking the trophy in four, the host side head into the series with the weight of expectation on their shoulders.
The locals will kick off their campaign against India on Friday February 21st at Sydney Showgrounds, straight off the back of their T20 Tri-Series match. While the Aussies won the series, concerns over the form with bat of the usually reliable Alyssa Healy have been raised as the star failed to reach double figures across five innings—the first time Healy has returned such consistently low scores in more than 100 T20 appearances. The depth of the squad is being backed in by captain Meg Lanning, however, and fans are looking to Healy’s young opening partner Beth Mooney who stunningly hit three half-centuries across the Tri-Series matches, culminating in 71 not out in the final against India, and being named Player of the Tri-Series.
Ellyse Perry heads into the tournament as one of the best all rounders in the world, but interestingly enough yields the bat significantly less than other star all rounders like Kiwi Sophie Devine and Stafanie Taylor of the West Indies. This is largely due to the strong top order Australia enjoys, proving the depth of the local batters, and creates a little more flexibility should a high order batter underperform.
Australia’s squad, consisting of Meg Lanning (C), Rachael Haynes (VC), Erin Burns, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy (WK), Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck and Georgia Wareham has been challenged by India in recent times, with each side walking away with two wins. One of the biggest threats in India’s lineup is opener Smriti Mandhana who caused Aussie bowlers some grief with her 66 in their recent Tri-Series battle, and will no doubt be an important part of Australia’s strategy heading into Friday’s World Cup opener.