Australian captain focusses on team discipline while England captain wants to stick to the basics and execute the plans ahead of the ICC Women's World Twenty20 2012 final
One side was the pre-tournament favourite, and it has lived up to that billing with four convincing victories. The other is the defending champion. Historically, England and Australia are part of cricket’s oldest rivalry. When they face off in the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 final on Sunday afternoon, there will certainly be no lack of intensity.
“It’s been a great tournament,” said Jodie Fields, Australia’s captain. “England have played well right through. In our match against them, we weren’t that far off the mark. We just weren’t quite disciplined enough. Tomorrow, we’ll need to be disciplined 100% of the time. That’ll keep us in good stead.”
Australia’s men cut a swathe through the early rounds, but were then shunted out at the semi-final stage by some blistering West Indian batting. With no double now possible, Fields was aware that it was now up to the women to take some silverware home. “It’s disappointing that the men didn’t make the finals as well but I think it’s a great achievement for Australian cricket that both the men and women made the semi-finals” said Fields. “Hopefully tomorrow, we’ll come out and do the nation proud.”
Australian veterans like Lisa Sthalekar have seen the women’s game change beyond recognition during the course of their careers, and Fields was confident that the sport was on the cusp of big things. “Just being at a world tournament like this alongside the men is a great step forward for international women’s cricket,” she said. “It’s improving all the time, the standards and the athleticism. The fact that more international matches are televised now is a great step forward. As long as that keeps happening, our game will keep going forward in a good way.”
England has batted with a fluency that has eluded Australia thus far in the competition, but Fields wasn’t about to make the mistake of concentrating only on a star-studded top order. “England are a top-class side,” she said. “They’ve been playing well for a number of years now. Lottie [Charlotte Edwards] and Sarah Taylor are world-class players. But I think you have to make sure you plan well for all the players in the team. If we come out tomorrow and focus on our game, and what we can do well, we could have a successful match.”
England was heavily favoured in 2010 as well, but failed to make the semi-finals in the Caribbean. The long history of the Ashes and even matches between the women’s teams lends some spice, but for Fields, the priority was to not relinquish Australia’s hold on the trophy. “Going out tomorrow, both teams will be very competitive,” she said. “We want to win that trophy, going in as defending champions.”
For her part, Edwards was relaxed and confident ahead of a contest that sees both teams seeking a second World Twenty20 title. “What we’ve talked about a lot in team meetings so far is to keep doing the basics well,” said Edwards. “Keep it as simple as possible tomorrow. We all know it’s a World Cup final but it’s still important that we do the basics well and execute our plans. If we do that, we know we can win this trophy.”
The poor tournament that England had in 2010 is also an incentive to go all the way. “We’re not getting too focussed on that,” said Edwards. “Two years ago, it was a really disappointing tournament for us. I’m really proud of the way the girls have come back. We’re peaking at the right time.”
Having started playing for England as a 16 year old, Edwards, like Sthalekar, has seen the women’s game evolve from amateur status. “I think the game’s unrecognisable from the one I started playing nearly 17 years ago,” she said. “I’m very proud of where the game’s come to now – the fielding, the power, the bowling’s faster now. Hopefully, that will all be on show tomorrow. We’re very lucky that we’ve got the two best teams in the tournament in the final. Hopefully, we can put on a good spectacle for the women’s game, which is really important when we have these double-headers.”
Ellyse Perry broke the semi-final open for Australia with two vital early wickets while bowling at lively pace, but Edwards insisted that they wouldn’t play her any differently. “She bowled four overs against us [in the group stage] and went for 42,” she said. “We look to attack during the Power play. We’ve got an approach to the game that really works and that’s shown in our recent form.
“We won’t be changing that because of a World Cup final. We back ourselves against anyone in the world. Looking at the girls this morning, they’re in a really good place, really relaxed. Hopefully they’ll go and show everyone how good they are.”