Australian veteran says an all-round effort with the bat and disciplined bowling are key to her team's chances in the final of the ICC Women's World Twenty20 2012
Lisa Sthalekar is one of the most experienced, and respected, cricketers in the women’s game and an ICC Women’s World Twenty20 champion, having won the title with the Australian team in 2010. Now, she has a chance to repeat the feat, but England, Australia’s opponent in the final, is probably the best team in the world among the women.
“We have played some really good cricket over the last two years since the last ICC World Twenty20. So we are excited that we have made the finals. It’s never an easy feat to come through semi-finals, we had to play West Indies who have improved immensely. It was a really good team performance. So we are really excited to get another chance to play England. I have never played England in a World Cup final. So this will be the first time,” said Sthalekar on the eve of the final.
England and Australia had met earlier in the tournament, and Australia had come out second-best on that occasion. Will that have an effect? “I think it will. Each team got an opportunity to see each other and to see how we are going. I think we took a lot of positives out of the game even though England won the game,” said Sthalekar. “I think we were winning the majority of the match and we lost it probably in the last five to six overs. So we have taken a lot of strengths from that game.
“Look I think we have got to have another all-round team performance in the final. If you looked at yesterday's performance, everyone contributed with the bat. The bowlers did their job and in the field we backed them up. In 2010 we had a similar performance where everyone chipped in. So I think the game will be a close match and whoever can keep their nerve on the day and execute their plans well will win.”
Sthalekar proved that she is still on top of her game, bowling a miserly spell that stifled the West Indians in the semi-final. “I just found a line and a length that seemed to trouble them,” said Sthalekar modestly. “So I decided to keep going and see if they were willing to change anything. Thankfully they didn't change anything for me. So that's why I bowled the spell I did.”
The Australian all-rounder is, in fact, the number one bowler according to the ICC T20I rankings. “I enjoy it now that I am growing older. Three hours on the field is great. At the start I mentioned when they did the rankings, I hated T20 cricket. I didn’t understand how to play it. Obviously T20 cricket is a great vehicle for us to promote the game. And the fact that Fox Sports, Sky Sports, ESPN are all telecasting the women's game before the men's is a wonderful opportunity for us to promote the game. The women's game is growing globally at an exponential rate. So it’s really exciting times to be involved in women's cricket,” said Sthalekar.
There was a lot of anticipation in Australia that both the men and the women would be in their respective finals, but with West Indies knocking out Australia on Friday, that’s off the cards. Sthalekar was asked whether the team plans to make up for the failure of its male counterparts. “Aren't we making up already? We are in the final,” said Sthalekar with a laugh. “No, look, the guys had a wonderful tournament. It’s a shame that they came up against a strong West Indian batting line up.”
A second ICC World T20 title would be “wonderful”, said Sthalekar, especially for the youngsters in the team. “We have put in a lot of hard work. The girls are training really well. We are giving up a lot of our free time. We have made a choice. It kind of allows you to go okay...all that time off...work, not being with friends is all worth it. For us to hold the trophy again would be something really special for all of us. And to share with some girls who have never been in a World Cup would be really, really wonderful,” concluded Sthalekar.