Women’s T20 prom­ises ex­cit­ing play

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS - Tony Becca

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 one­horse race in the fi­nal as af­ter re­strict­ing Aus­tralia, the two-time de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons, to 148 runs for six wick­ets, cap­tain Ste­fanie Tay­lor, 69 off 57 de­liv­er­ies, and teenager Hay­ley Matthews, 66 off 45 de­liv­er­ies, blazed to a cen­tu­ry­open­ing 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 all­rounders, 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 cover­drives, 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. CHEN­NAI, In­dia (CMC): WEST INDIES have only pride to play for when they take on In­dia in the fi­nal Twenty20 In­ter­na­tional of the three-match se­ries here to­day, hop­ing to end an oth­er­wise wretched tour on a high note.

The Car­los Brath­waite-led side has been lit­tle match for the pow­er­ful In­dian jug­ger­naut, los­ing the first match in Kolkata by five wick­ets be­fore go­ing un­der in the sec­ond in Luc­know by 71 runs.

Sun­day’s match presents, per­haps, their best chance, es­pe­cially with In­dia de­cid­ing to rest seam­ers Jasprit Bum­rah and Umesh Ya­dav, along with ex­cel­lent left-arm spin­ner Kuldeep Ya­dav, who has ter­rorised the tourists in all for­mats dur­ing the se­ries.

SHORT ON EX­PE­RI­ENCE

Ramdin, one of the few se­nior play­ers in a squad oth­er­wise short on ex­pe­ri­ence, said it was im­por­tant that the Windies pull out all the stops for the con­test at the MA Chi­dambaram Sta­dium.

“On this wicket, the side bound­aries are a bit big­ger, and the In­di­ans play spin quite well, so it’s very im­por­tant we bowl the right lengths on this wicket,” the for­mer Test cap­tain said.

“They have home ad­van­tage, but we need to take some pride in our­selves to try and win one game.”

The match bowls off at 8:30 a.m. (Ja time).

Stafanie Tay­lor

ON THE BOUND­ARY

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