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Womens World T20

Several stars to watch amid surging status of the women’s game

Aimee Watkins column

Women’s cricket is now a coveted career and one that will hopefully steer the young stars of tomorrow down the path of cricket rather than the multitude of other options available, writes Aimee Watkins.

As we begin to count down the days to the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 event, it’s time to consider just how far women’s cricket has come in recent years - from the first ever Twenty20 international between England and New Zealand in 2004, until now, where the first stand alone ICC Women’s World Twenty20 event is set to kick off in the West Indies on 9 November.

Women’s cricket is now the home of some of the hottest global sports stars, from New Zealand’s ‘Miss Consistency’ Suzie Bates to West Indies’ ‘powerhouse’ Deandra Dottin and Australia’s popular Ellyse Perry.

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Watch This! The official song of ICC Women's WT20 2018

Women’s cricket has gone through a huge transition in the past 10 years, with most players in the top six ranked countries in the world being either fully or semi-professional cricketers. Along with this increased professionalism comes more support staff, better facilities, more playing and training opportunities, greater coverage and further globalisation of the game.

This 2018 edition is the first time that any T20 tournament will use the Umpire Decision Review System (DRS), with one review per side, which will be only better for the conduct of the game.

These changes in such a short space of time have certainly changed the lives of those currently involved in the women’s game, but will go on to have a greater impact on those stars-to-be who are just beginning their careers. Women’s cricket is now a coveted career and one that will hopefully steer the young stars of tomorrow down the path of cricket rather than the multitude of other options available.

'Women’s cricket is now the home of some of the hottest global sports stars'
'Women’s cricket is now the home of some of the hottest global sports stars'

Because of these changes, it’s no surprise there’s been a massive change in perception of women’s cricket and the game has become much more respected all over the world, which is only set to continue. In the recent series between Australia and New Zealand in Australia, there was a television audience of 2.9 million people for the first game of the three-match series. The women’s game is more in demand and television exposure, along with professional domestic leagues, have helped grow the game a phenomenal amount in the past four years.

This ICC Women’s World T20 tournament is a very important one for the New Zealand White Ferns, having not reached a World event final since 2010, and after a particularly poor showing at the ICC Women’s World Cup in England in 2017.

The White Ferns have the potential to do well in the shortest form of the game with their experienced players’ ability to take the game away from the opposition. The powerful Suzie Bates, Sophie Devine and newly-appointed skipper Amy Satterthwaite will hold the key to their chances with the bat, while the spin options will be crucial for Satterthwaite to turn to in West Indian conditions.

I’ll be interested in seeing how young cap Amelia Kerr is used in the T20 World Cup. She has shown steady confidence at the bowling crease so far in her budding international career, which will no doubt be confronted by opposition teams doing all they can to not allow her to settle into a rhythm. Kerr’s four overs, along with those of Leigh Kasperek, will play a big part in how successful the White Ferns are in their 20 overs in the field.

It’s well known that this New Zealand team is one that loves to chase down a score. With the experienced heads in the batting order being more able to control the pace of the game in the second innings, I agree that this should be the preferred tactic through the group stages of the tournament. Nothing less than a semi-final berth in the Windies should be acceptable to the management, players and cricket-loving public of New Zealand.

Other players to watch include Australia’s classy skipper Meg Lanning, South Africa’s top ranked all-rounder Dane van Niekerk, India’s 2017 World Cup hero Harmanpreet Kaur and the innovative Natalie Sciver from England.

The excellence and experience of Australia and England have been hard to beat in recent World events, with several players from both teams consistently getting the job done on many occasions. However, three of the current leading all-rounders in the world may have something to say about that if they are on song in their home country.

Stafanie Taylor, Deandra Dottin and Hayley Matthews will be relishing the opportunity to play in their own backyard, and if the hosts are going to retain their world T20 crown, these three will be crucial to their chances.

I hope we see some scintillating cricket, new names revealed and current stars performing freely during the upcoming event. This is what the top cricketers in the world have been working towards for the past 12 months. May the best team win!

(Aimee Watkins was successful across formats during a nine-year international career and had the distinction of leading New Zealand to the finals of two ICC Women’s World T20s – in 2009 and 2010)