This article was first written and published for The Roar.
With a 71-run win over the West Indies Women’s team, the Australian Women’s Cricket team will play in their fifth consecutive ICC T20 World Cup match on Sunday morning.
Leading into the match, the big question on everyone’s lips was ‘will Alyssa Healy be playing?’ Alyssa is currently Australia’s most in-form cricketer, scoring six centuries in her last eight T20 innings but was under an injury cloud following her departure from the field in Australia’s loss to India earlier this week due to concussion.
Both Alyssa and Megan Schutt were attempting to take a catch, were impeded by the batters and it was Alyssa who came off second best against Megan’s shoulder.
Fortunately, when Australia came out to bat, it was Alyssa and Beth Mooney who have been Australia’s opening batters for the entirety of this tournament.
This game was the first time Australia and the West Indies had met in a 20-over match since the 2016 edition of the T20 World Cup. The result was one that Australia would rather forget, with the West Indies winning by eight wickets. That occasion was the only time the West Indies had beaten Australia in a T20I.
After the West Indies won the toss and elected to bad, Alyssa continued her positive form with the bat, scoring 46 off 38 balls.
There were however a couple of moments during the batting innings where I was quite concerned. It has been a theme of this World Cup that Australia’s middle order have failed to fire, with Elyse Villani and Ashleigh Gardner getting out cheaply several times this series.
I wonder how much of that is due to the fact that for the Australian women, the Caribbean is a very new environment. The last time the team was there was back in 2010 and additionally, given Alyssa’s dominance at the top of the order and some of the low targets set by Australia’s opposition, potentially the middle order have not had as much opportunity to get used to the conditions.
Fortunately in this game, Rachael Haynes came to the rescue at the back end of Australia’s innings to score 25 not out from 15 balls. In the 19th over alone, Rachael scored 17 runs and was exceptionally effective against the death bowling of Deandra Dottin (who bowled two wides) to finish quite expensively with figures of 0/23 off her two overs.
Australian coach Matthew Mott and captain Meg Lanning have been open during this tournament about Australia wanting to set a new benchmark of 180 runs. With 142 falling well short of that hope, there was plenty of concern on social media about the Aussie’s ability to defend that total especially against power hitters like Stefanie Taylor, Deandra Dottin and Hayley Matthews.
There has been plenty of focus on Australia’s batting throughout this tournament, and deservedly so, but the unsung hero throughout has been Australia’s bowling attack and they absolutely shone in this game.
Whilst Ellyse Perry is known for her batting (particularly in the ODI version of the game), she truly is one of Australia’s best all-rounders. She took two wickets in the first five overs. Her first over was a wicket maiden when she took the wicket of Deandra Dottin who chopped on. Her next wicket came in the fifth over.
Shemaine Campbelle was gone for seven after a catch by Sophie Molineaux. Ellyse ended the game with the incredible figures of 2-2. Other notable performances came from Delissa Kimmince who had figures of 2/17 and also Ashleigh Gardner who ended on figures of 2/15.
Georgia Wareham came into this side based on her bowling, but has also taken some exceptional catches. She took another in this game, getting under a challenging ball to help dismiss Stefanie Taylor off the bowling of her housemate, Sophie Molineaux.
I also want to credit Alyssa again because she was directly responsible for Australia’s first big breakthrough in the match, due to a clever run out of Hayley Matthews. Hayley had advanced down the crease when she was facing Sophie Molineaux. After Hayley got bat to ball, she found herself down the crease, Alyssa took the bouncing ball and quickly whipped off the bails of the stumps.
I knew Australia were in with a big chance at this point with one of the West Indies best batters out for 4. She also took another catch with a big yell of ‘mine’ (no doubt remembering what happened last game).
Australia will now play England in the final after England defeated India in the other semi-final by 8 wickets with a phenomenal innings from Natalie Sciver who ended up on 52 not out off 38 balls. Nat was beautifully supported by Amy Jones who scored 53 not out off 47 balls after England lost the wickets of Danni Wyatt (8) and Tammy Beaumont (1) early in the game.
You can tune into that game at 11am on Sunday morning AEST on 9Gem or FoxSports. And then it’s time for the WBBL to begin.