From the record-breaking Deepti Sharma and Laura Wolvaardt, to World T20 champion Hayley Matthews, these young talents will be keen to make a mark.
The ICC Women's World Cup 2017 in England, from June 24 to July 23, will see the best cricketers from eight nations compete for glory.
Of the 31 matches played in the 11th edition of the World Cup, 10 will be televised with the other 21 live-streamed, and increased visibility means a chance for new faces to strut their stuff on the world's biggest stage. Here are the eight youngsters to keep an eye on throughout the tournament:
Amanda-Jade Wellington (Australia)
Wellington taught herself leg-spin in her backyard growing up, inspired by Shane Warne. Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but far more flattering was being likened to the legendary leggie by none other than Adam Gilchrist. He had watched Wellington during the inaugural Women's Big Bash League when she took 3 for 13 for Adelaide Strikers against Perth Scorchers, leading him to remark that he had not "seen loop, dip and turn like that for quite some time". An international call-up came in November last year. And, boy, was she ready, grabbing a wicket off her first ball by bamboozling former South Africa captain Mignon du Preez with a flighted turner. Australia captain Meg Lanning knows the feeling – she had been bowled round the legs in WBBL once – but will be glad Wellington's playing on the same side as her now!
Alex Hartley (England)
Drafted into the England Women’s Academy at age 15 and dropped at 16, Hartley could've given up cricket and enjoyed what was left of her teenage years. Instead, she gave herself the best chance to succeed by taking a few hard decisions, one of which included a move from her home county Lancashire to Division One outfit Middlesex. She rose quickly through the ranks and has taken 17 wickets since her ODI debut in June 2016. She's the youngest player in England's World Cup squad and as a left-arm spinner, she provides variety to their attack with captain Heather Knight, Laura Marsh and Danielle Hazelle all being offies.
Deepti Sharma (India)
According to India captain Mithali Raj, Deepti "could be the ideal all-rounder that we have been searching for ages". For a 19-year-old, that's quite a compliment, but one that is warranted after her recent exploits. She starred with 188 off 160 balls in a record 320-run opening stand alongside Poonam Raut against Ireland in Potchefstroom in May. Deepti's knock was the second-highest individual score in Women’s ODIs, behind Australian legend Belinda Clark's 229*. She was the highest run-scorer in the South Africa quadrangular series as well as Women's World Cup Qualifiers, but what stood out was her expanded shot range. Add to that her off-spin, which has fetched her 28 wickets in ODIs, and it's easy to see why she's being talked up as the real deal.
Amelia Kerr (New Zealand)
With her mother and father having played first-class cricket and her grandfather Bruce Murray having played 13 Tests for New Zealand, it wasn't surprising that Kerr took to cricket like fish to water. At 12, she became the first person ever to score a T20 century at the Basin Reserve. Two years later, she made her domestic debut for Wellington Blaze and quickly developed a reputation as a reliable limited-overs leg-spinner. Then, at 16, Kerr made her international debut in the home series against Pakistan last year. In seven ODIs, she has taken 10 wickets, including 4 for 54 against the top-ranked Australian side. Set to become the youngest New Zealand player to participate in the Women's World Cup, the journey is onwards and upwards for Kerr.
Ayesha Zafar (Pakistan)
Zafar made her debut at age 20, but really shone at the Women's World Cup Qualifiers, hitting 115 in a one-day match against Papua New Guinea. After the game, she spoke about how she treated each ball on its merit but also wasn't afraid to go for the big hits. She finished as the third-highest run scorer for Pakistan in the tournament, behind seniors Javeria Khan and Nahida Khan, with 199 runs in seven games. In 11 ODIs so far, her best performance has come against New Zealand away where she hit two half-centuries. Opening the batting, Zafar will be crucial to Pakistan's Women's World Cup campaign.
Laura Wolvaardt (South Africa)
Wolvaardt is something of a teenage prodigy. At 17 years 105 days she became the youngest South African, male or female, and the second-youngest woman in the world to make an ODI hundred. The knock of 105 came in August last year against Ireland and in only her seventh ODI appearance. That alone would be quite an achievement, but in May this year, Wolvaardt was at it again against Ireland. This time she hit 149, the second-highest individual score for South Africa. To put her feat into perspective, Mignon du Preez and Johmari Logtenberg are the only other South Africa women players to have two centuries to their name. With an average of 42.46 in 18 ODIs, including three fifties, Wolvaardt will be a key player in South Africa's Women's World Cup campaign.
Nipuni Hansika (Sri Lanka)
Hansika was the second-highest run-scorer for Sri Lanka in the Women's World Cup Qualifiers, behind the experienced Chamari Athapaththu, with 198 runs in seven games. It was a remarkable performance considering that she only took up the game in the ninth grade when she saw some seniors playing. Her mother wanted her to pursue higher studies, but her father was supportive, taking her to practice without her mother's knowledge. However, when her mother saw Hansika playing cricket, she was convinced with her daughter's decision and encouraged her. Though Hansika made her ODI debut at 18, it was two years later that she cemented her spot, and the side will hope she can provide some good starts at the top of the order in the Women's World Cup.
Hayley Matthews (West Indies)
On that fateful night in Kolkata in April 2016, we were told to remember one name – Carlos Brathwaite – but Matthews's is worth memorising too. At 18, she found herself opening the innings in the Women's World T20 final against three-time winner Australia. She didn't show any nerves, though, as she chased down the 149-run target with a whirlwind 66 from 45 balls to seal an eight-wicket victory. Her powerful strokes were what caught the eye: she hit more sixes – three – than the rest of the players in the match put together. Her secret? She spent her childhood playing against boys in her district, even captaining the Under-13 boy's side at Harrison, a prestigious school in Barbados. If West Indies is to do one better than its runner-up finish in the 2013 Women's World Cup, expect Matthews to come to the party.
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