This story was first written for and published by The Roar.
It may be cold in Sydney at the moment but with the Australian Women’s Cricket team currently in action in the ICC Women’s World Cup in England, I almost feel like summer has returned.
Australia have played four games so far – their first was against the West Indies, their second against Sri Lanka, then New Zealand and most recently against Pakistan.
So far Australia has won four out of four games.
But what has struck me the most about this Women’s World Cup is how familiar I am not just with the Australian Women’s Cricket Team but also how familiar I am with the international players who are playing in the tournament.
Three years ago, this certainly would not have been the case.
Thanks to Cricket Australia and the Women’s Big Bash League, I now know every single member of the Australian Women’s Cricket Team – not to mention other players like Hayley Matthews, Deandra Dottin and Stafanie Taylor that are playing for the West Indies, Marizanne Kapp and Dane van Niekerk that are playing for South Africa, Harmanpreet Kaur that is playing for India, Suzie Bates, Rachel Priest, Amy Satterthwaite and Sophie Devine who are playing for New Zealand and Tammy Beaumont, Heather Knight, Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole who are playing for England.
So many of these players were stand-outs in the WBBL last year and, as a result brought increased focus and attention to women’s cricket.
The fact that I know so many of these players is a testament to how much coverage and promotion of women’s cricket has improved in Australia. Imagine where we will be by the time the next Women’s World Cup comes along.
Now onto results.
One of the best things about this Australian Women’s Cricket team is that it is a team of champions.
Australia has demonstrated during these first four games that the team is not dependent on one player to lead the team to victory and that the team features plenty of talented cricketers, capable of taking the game into their own hands if required.
And it’s not just the old hands either.
In Australia’s first two matches, Nicole Bolton was one of the heroes.
Against the West Indies in her first World Cup game, Nicole scored a century and finished unbeaten on 107 from 116 balls. In Australia’s game against Sri Lanka, Nicole proved that she isn’t just a one-hit wonder, backing it up with 60 from 71 deliveries. Not only a talent with the bat, in her first-time bowling in international cricket, Nicole claimed her first wicket on just her third ball and ended up with figures of 2-18.
Speaking of the game against Sri Lanka, it would be remiss of me not to mention Meg Lanning’s innings. In this game, Meg scored her 11th ODI century from 99 deliveries and then went on with it to pass her highest previous one-day score of 135 not out. At the end of the innings, Meg finished on 152 from 135 scoring 19 fours and one six.
In their third and fourth games though, new heroes emerged for the Australian team.
Against the West Indies, it was hard to pick between Ellyse Perry and Jess Jonassen as the stand-outs for Australia.
Just as she would later do against Pakistan, Ellyse Perry played the role of anchor in this game. When Perry came to the crease Australia was 2-72. This game saw a 71 run partnership with Lanning and Perry as well as a 76 run partnership between Perry and Alex Blackwell and both these partnerships were crucial in getting Australia to their total of 220.
While Perry was stand out with the bat, stand out with the ball in hand was Jess Jonassen who took 3 wickets in just 16 balls, proving once again that spin is kind in this tournament.
Heading into their game against Pakistan, some Australian fans expressed concern when Meg Lanning was ruled out of the match with a recurring shoulder injury.
No Meg? No worries.
In Australia’s 159 run win over Pakistan there were several special moment.
Australia may have struggled initially with the bat, but Elyse Villani’s innings was one to remember. On her way to a 34 ball half century (the second fastest half century hit in a World Cup), Elyse hit four sixes. Following her dismissal for 59, it wasn’t long before all eyes were on Alyssa Healy who hit nine boundaries and one six – scoring a career high of 63 not out. In her ODI career, this was only the second time that Alyssa has surpassed more than 50 runs, with the last time being back in 2010.
But by far my favourite moment of this game was seeing Sarah Aley finally make her debut for Australia, 12 years after having made her domestic debut for New South Wales.
It was a long wait for the 33-year-old bowler from the Sydney Sixers, but it was worth it.
On Wednesday Sarah became the third oldest woman to make her ODI debut for Australia and it only took her two balls to claim her first international wicket of Ayesha Zafar. By the end of the innings, Sarah added a second wicket and a catch – making it a debut to remember.
It’s a big week ahead for the Australian Women’s team. They currently sit at the top of the rankings and in their next games will play England, India and South Africa.
Who will Australia’s next champion be?