Australia have underlined their status as the dominant force in women’s cricket by winning the T20I World Cup for a sixth time.
They beat South Africa by 19 runs in the final in Cape Town in South Africa, justifying their status as pre-tournament favourites.
The number one ranked team in the world, in the past year they have won the 50 over a side World Cup, Commonwealth gold, and retained their T20I World Cup.
Other nations still have a way to go before they can close the gap on them.
South Africa fall short
South Africa had begun the tournament badly, losing the first two games, a shock defeat to Sri Lanka in the opening game, and then suffering a six-wicket loss at the hands of the Australians. They recovered though, to edge out New Zealand to take second place in their group and earn a semi-final spot against the previously unbeaten England.
They had then upset the English, winning by six runs to earn their spot in the final, something that was an achievement in itself, given that their preparations for the tournament had been overshadowed by the decision to omit former captain Dane van Niekerk from their squad after she failed a fitness test.
And, after Australia won the toss and chose to bat, they did well to restrict them to 156/6 from their 20 overs.
However, Australia then squeezed the scoring rate when it came to their turn to bowl, and the home side were never up with the required rate. Laura Wolvaardt made 61, but in the end, her efforts were in vain.
Australia always find a way to win
This may not have been a vintage performance by Australia, but, as ever, they found a way to win. Their innings was anchored by Beth Mooney, who made an unbeaten 74, whilst Ashleigh Gardner, who was later voted Player of the Tournament, made 29.
Their total was by no means unbeatable, but tight and disciplined bowling, combined with fin fielding, meant that they always remained in control of the match. It meant another opportunity for captain Meg Lanning, who only returned to the sport recently, after taking a mental health break, to lift more silverware.
T20 Dominance Continues
The victory continues Australia’s dominance in the T20 format.
Apart from the first final in 2009, they have been involved in every single one since, winning six out of seven of them (the West Indies producing a major upset to beat them in 2018.
They have now won it three times in a row and with the next tournament scheduled for Bangladesh next year (it is meant to be biennial but the schedule is still catching up after the Covid pandemic), they must already be considered favourites for that.
After the match South African captain Sune Luus commented that Australia are “setting a benchmark for other teams to live up to” summarising the current situation.
One of the reasons why Australia maintain their place at the top of the table is that they are battle-hardened. Their players are used to playing in high-pressure games, and do not crack in stressful situations.
India pushed them close
India can, therefore, take some credit for pushing the champions close in their own semi-final, losing by just 5 runs in the end. The difference between the sides came down to fielding – India put down several catches in the field, whilst Australia were flawless.
What next for women’s cricket
Although the World Cup may now be over, the next big event in women’s cricket is about to start, with the advent of the new Indian women’s T20 league which gets underway next weekend.
Many of the players who were involved for their nations at the World Cup have also been drafted into the play in that competition, and, for India and the other countries, they will be hoping this will give them much-needed regular exposure to big match situations.
One of the reasons why Australia continue to dominate women’s cricket is that many of their top players have been involved in the WBBL (Women’s Big Bash League) for years.
Whether it is enough for the others to close the gap in time for Bangladesh next year remains to be seen.
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