Cricket returns to the Commonwealth Games for the first time in 24 years, with the first women’s tournament to be played out at the multi-sport event.
Eight sides will take part across 16 matches at Edgbaston, with a winner crowned and all the medals finalised on August 7.
India and Australia play the curtain-raising match for the tournament, with the other opening day match featuring Barbados and Pakistan.
All you need to know ahead of the first ball.
The teams are split across two groups of four, with the top two in each qualifying for the semi-finals. Sides finishing first in their group will take on the second-place finisher in the opposite group, with the winners of the semis reaching the final.
The losers of the semi-finals will face off in a third-place playoff for the bronze medal, with the final determining the gold and silver medallists.
Group A: Australia, Barbados, India, Pakistan
Group B: England, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka
Where are the West Indies?
While the team's T20I ranking would have been good enough for automatic qualification, the West Indies are made up of a group of nations that compete separately in the Commonwealth Games, so their spot at the tournament was to be determined by a regional qualifier.
Covid-19 prevented the qualifier, and Barbados were selected by virtue of winning the most recent Twenty20 Blaze in 2019.
The side contain a number of full West Indies internationals, most notably skipper Hayley Matthews and Deandra Dottin, as well as quicks Shamilia Connell and Shakera Selman. Twin sisters Kyshona and Kycia Knight will also feature.
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Do Barbados matches count as T20Is?
The short answer is yes, as well as England matches in spite of their split with Wales at the Commonwealth Games (as the two compete together in regular international cricket under the England name).
Individual T20I player rankings for Barbados players will be reflected through play at the tournament, provided the player has played T20I international cricket for the West Indies. Matches involving Barbados however will be ignored for team ranking purposes.
How the rest of the teams qualified
As hosts, England qualified automatically for the tournament, with the next five best teams on the ICC Women’s T20I rankings also gaining qualification (Australia, India, New Zealand, South Africa and Pakistan).
The final spot was determined at the Commonwealth Games Qualifier, held at the Kinrara Oval in Malaysia.
In the five-team round robin event, Chamari Athapaththu’s Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh, Scotland, Malaysia and Kenya for the final spot, going through the tournament undefeated.
Meeting in the final match of the competition, Sri Lanka edged their nearest rivals in Nigar Sultana Joty’s side by 22 runs, with Athapaththu’s 48 (28) the top score across the two teams. Athapaththu was unsurprisingly the leading run-scorer at the tournament, and will likely be the biggest threat to Sri Lanka’s opponents at the tournament proper.
How is every team shaping up?
A number of teams have taken to the field in preparation for the event, with favourites Australia flexing their muscles even when rain threatened to overshadow them.
Meg Lanning's side claimed a tri-series win over Ireland and fellow Commonwealth Games combatants Pakistan in Bready, with Bismah Maroof's side also claiming a 13-run (DLS) victory against the series hosts.
South Africa meanwhile have taken on England across all three formats, though the tour has been a struggle both on and off the field for the Proteas.
Winless on the tour and swept in a 3-0 defeat in the T20I series, the Proteas must also deal with the loss of Marizanne Kapp (personal reasons), with a groin injury for Tumi Sekhukhune likely to sideline the 23-year-old quick.
England look likely to keep Sophia Dunkley at the top of the order to provide a new look to their batting order, having left out Tammy Beaumont.
The other four sides competing in the Games have reached Birmingham after training camps at home.
Has cricket featured at the Commonwealth Games before?
Cricket has featured once before at the Games - as a 16-team tournament on the men’s side - at the Kuala Lumpur Games, back in 1998.
South Africa claimed gold by beating Australia in the final, chasing down a target of 184 after Shaun Pollock’s 4/19 (9). Mike Rindel top-scored with 67 (106), with Jacques Kallis’ 44 ensuring victory. In the Bronze Medal Match, Chris Harris was crucial with both bat and ball, joint top-scoring with 56* before taking 2/20 (7.4) in a 51-run victory.
Will cricket be back in 2026?
Regional areas of the Australian state of Victoria will host the 2026 Commonwealth Games, with cricket already in its initial programme.
A women’s tournament for four years’ time has been confirmed, with a men’s equivalent yet to be determined.
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