It is only fitting that the finalists of the 2013 edition of the ICC Women’s World Cup, and the 2016 edition of the Women’s World T20, open their 2017 Women’s World Cup campaign against each other.
Australia Women, the defending 50-over champion, and Windies Women, the T20 champion, get ready to play out another chapter in their rivalry at County Ground in Taunton on Monday (June 26).
Both teams, however, are wary of not getting caught up in past encounters.
“We’ve not spoken about it too much to be honest,” said Meg Lanning, the Australia captain, about the teams’ last meeting in the World T20 final, where Windies triumphed by eight wickets. “There’s no doubt that that loss really hurt our group and I feel like we’ve improved a lot since that tournament and obviously we’re playing the 50-over format this time around. We’re very confident heading in, we feel like our preparation has been really good.”
“We’re not focusing too much on the Australians, we’re trying to focus on our game and what we need to do as a team to win,” said Stafanie Taylor, the Windies skipper, urging her players to play their natural game. “We know they’re going to come hard at us … we just have to remember all the good things we did against them in the last World Cup and play our cricket.”
In the 50-over game, Australia has the edge. Besides, Windies’ recent One-Day International form hasn’t been great, and it struggled in the warm-ups.
The ladies from the Caribbean, however, can lift their game on the big stage. “Warm-up games are gone. We’re not focusing on what’s gone,” insisted Taylor.
“We’re not reading to much into the warm-up results,” added Lanning, whose side comfortably beat both South Africa Women and New Zealand Women in practice games. “We’re expecting a very good West Indies side to come out tomorrow and we’re expecting them to play their best.
“We always enjoy playing against them and they’re very good games.”
For Taylor, who has played for Western Storm in the Super League, Taunton is a ‘home’ ground; she’s hoping the homecoming is a happy one.
Besides, Somerset County Cricket Club has been home to several Caribbean legends: Viv Richards is their leading List A run scorer, and Chris Gayle has been among the runs in more recent times. “Playing for the [KSL], I’ve been reminded that almost every West Indian played here. It’s a great feeling to be among the legends, even a modern one like Chris Gayle,” said Taylor, expecting her team to be inspired by the historic ties.
Windies will need every bit of inspiration and a good all-round game to make an impact on Monday, in what is expected to be a high-scoring game.
“Our top six is very dangerous,” reminded Lanning, aiming for a 300-plus score. “It’s important in the 50-over game to put big scores on the board. We’ve had enough time to get used to the conditions here in the UK. Now that everyone else is playing, we’re itching to get out there and get started.”