Tony Becca | Women’s T20 promises exciting play
The Women’s T20 World Championship is under way for the second time in the West Indies, and this time, the Windies are running hot and appear ready to go.
In 2010, in the second championship, the West Indies fought well, but despite their efforts, they finished at the semi-final stage.
They were simply not as good and not as prepared as, certainly, Australia and England.
In the next two tournaments, it was the same old story. It was a semi-final spot on each of those occasions also.
In the previous tournament, however, in 2016, in Kolkata, India, the girls were better prepared, and on top of that, all to a woman, they said enough was enough, decided, in their own words, to simply enjoy themselves and to play cricket the West Indies way.
The result, again according to the players, was that they played without fear and without any pressure. They played freely, got to the final, and for a change, knocked off the other finalists.
In fact, it was almost a one-horse race in the final as after restricting Australia, the two-time defending champions, to 148 runs for six wickets, captain Stafanie Taylor, 69 off 57 deliveries, and teenager Hayley Matthews, 66 off 45 deliveries, blazed to a century- opening partnership as the West Indies won by eight wickets.
PARADE THEIR SKILLS
This time, despite their dismal performance in last year’s World Cup tournament in England, the West Indies have been preparing for this battle in a bid to parade their skills at home, to win on their home stage, to make it two in a row, and to lead a wild West Indian celebration, particularly in Antigua on November 24.
Like everything in life, however, it is always tough at the top, because every team, or almost everyone among the 10 teams, is gunning to take the West Indies’ place and is fighting tooth and nail to get to number one.
Australia, for example, the three-time champions, are breathing fire after the West Indies ambushed them in the Eden Gardens last time, and it is certain that players like captain Meg Lamming, Nicole Bolton, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Mega Shutt, Alyssa Healy and company have come with vengeance in their hearts.
The other teams, like England, the World Cup champions, are just as determined.
England, the only other winners of the trophy, are depending on the likes of Heather Knight, Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Jenny Gunn, Anya Shrubsole, Natalie Sciver, and Danielle Wyatt and company to carry the fight; New Zealand, with Susie Bates, Amy Satterthwaite, and Saphire Devine; and India, who boast the brilliant Mithali Raj and Hermanpreet Kaur, are also in the hunt.
While the West Indies, Australia, England, India, and New Zealand are the four big contenders for the title, and although one could probably count out Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Ireland this time, it would be short-sighted, however, to ignore South Africa and Pakistan. South Africa will parade players like Rene van Niekerk, Migan du Preez, Chloe Toyan, and Shabnim Ismail, and Pakistan, one like Bismah Maroof.
Despite the uncertainty of cricket, and especially the 20-over game, the West Indies are strong, quite strong at that, and could really win it or be there or thereabouts at the finish.
Led by Taylor, the ICC Cricketer of the Year in 2011, 2012, and 2015, and the player of the last T20 world championship, and including batsmen, or batswomen, like Matthews, Merissa Aguillera, Deandra Dottin, Kycia Knight, and bowlers like Britney Cooper, Shakera Selman, and Anisa Mohammed, plus the all-rounders, Taylor and Matthews, the West Indies are certainly the hometown favourites to win the title, and they have also promised to deliver.
Win, lose, or draw, however, the tournament promises many days of good and exciting cricket as the women parade their improving skill.
The contests, especially those between the West Indies, England, and South Africa, Australia, India, and New Zealand, and whoever gets into the semi-finals and final, promise to be close and exciting.
Women’s cricket has come a long way. The World Cup was exciting last year and the play was refreshingly good. The World T20 Championship promises to be as good, or better, this time.
The crisp and flowing cover-drives, and the agile fielding, especially, are expected to excite the fans as images of champions past, of Rachael Heyhoe Flint of England, Enid Bakewell of England, Betty Wilson of Australia, Cathryn Fitzpatrick of Australia, Belinda Clark of Australia, Debbie Hockley of New Zealand, Charlotte Edwards of England, and of the Caribbean’s own former stars like Vivian Latty-Scott and Anne Brown, come fleeting across the memory.
Hopefully, the deeds of the aforementioned star players will light up this tournament like a grand and beautiful pyrotechnic display.
Who will win? My heart says the West Indies to successfully defend the title. My head, however, says Australia to win, for the fourth time in five years, or England, for the second time since becoming the inaugural champion.