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Howzat: A bumper year for women’s cricket

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Women’s T20 cricket will make its Commonwealth Games debut at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, and Australia’s star-packed team is ready for their own ‘bumper year of sport’.

Olympic and Paralympic athletes are relishing the opportunity to pack an Olympics/Paralympics, world championships and Commonwealth Games within 12 months, in what Australia’s Commonwealth Games team Chef de Mission Petria Thomas has labelled a “bumper year of sport”.

And our women cricketers are no different.

Coming off their triumphant T20 World Cup win in front of 86,174 at the MCG in March, the recent postponement of the 50-over World Cup in New Zealand from early 2021 until February/March 2022 adds a fourth major women’s event to the 2022 calendar, with a T20 World Cup in South Africa, the Birmingham Commonwealth Games and the women’s Ashes, due to begin late next year in Australia, also on the menu.

Alyssa Healy, the Australian wicketkeeper-batter who was player of the match in the T20 final, believes the prospect of playing four major women’s competitions in 2022 is a little daunting but a great opportunity for women’s cricket.

“Maybe we could label it ‘International Women’s Year’ if that’s going to happen, and have four big major events all throughout that year and no men’s sports being played – that would be fantastic,” Healy told ESPNcricinfo, possibly only half in jest.

“The opportunity to play four big major worldwide events in one year is obviously daunting, but it’s also exciting for us to showcase the women’s game on an international scale as big as that. I think most of the girls around the world would be chomping at the bits to be part of it,” Healy said.

Australia captain Meg Lanning, who was announced as part of the 18-member team to tour New Zealand in September for a series of one-day Internationals and T20 clashes, said she is also looking forward to what will be a significant year for the women’s game.

“Now we’re just looking towards 2022, which is going to be a massive year for us and could potentially be a couple of world tournaments in there and a Commonwealth Games. So that’s something we’re looking forward to and we’ll get started with this series coming up and then build toward 2022,” Lanning told Melbourne radio station SEN.

Lanning believes her team can make the most of the 50-over World Cup delay, as they seek to improve on their semi-final loss from 2017. Given the all-conquering Australia outfit has won 20 of their past 21 one day internationals and their last defeat came in 2017, that’s a worrying sign for the opposition.

“It gives us a good chance to evolve our game a bit and try a few things,” Lanning said.

“We’ve got some new players in the squad as well. We’ll try and work out the best combinations how we can play our best cricket leading into that 2022 year.”

Australia will take on New Zealand in an upcoming series, with three new additions to the squad that took the T20 crown, including allrounder Tahlia McGrath and pace bowlers Maitlan Brown and Belinda Vakarewa. Speedster Tayla Vlaeminck was unavailable for selection while Ellyse Perry has been named subject to fitness following the serious hamstring injury that kept her out of the T20 World Cup final.

Next month’s three One-Day Internationals and three Twenty20 Internationals and are currently the only international matches on the schedule for Lanning’s team in 2020.

Victorian cricketers have been able to train despite the lockdown in Melbourne, with the men’s and women’s teams granted an exemption to continue training, albeit with strict limitations. However, Lanning, like all other Melburnians, is still subject to the restriction of just one hour of outdoor exercise per day outside the team sessions.

“It’s been a challenge not being as active as I’d like, the one-hour limit cuts that back a fair but,” Lanning admitted.

“(But) we’ve been lucky enough to get an exemption to train … it’s quite restricted, we’ve got three half-days throughout the week.

“As professionals, we’ve been used to training every day and spending quite a lot of time working on our game, so we’ve had to become a lot more efficient than we perhaps were, and trying to really target specific areas we want to work on.

“But we’re lucky we’ve got that exemption and are able to keep training, we know a lot of people have lost their jobs and aren’t able to get out of the house at all so we’re very thankful for that opportunity.”

 

Cricket Australia announced an 18-player squad for the New Zealand series in September:

Meg Lanning (c) (VIC)

Rachael Haynes (vc) (NSW)

Maitlan Brown (ACT)

Erin Burns (NSW)

Nicola Carey (TAS)

Ashleigh Gardner (NSW)

Alyssa Healy (NSW)

Jess Jonassen (QLD)

Delissa Kimmince (QLD)

Tahlia McGrath (SA)

Sophie Molineux (VIC)

Beth Mooney (QLD)

Ellyse Perry (VIC) *subject to fitness

Megan Schutt (SA)

Molly Strano (VIC)

Annabel Sutherland (VIC)

Georgia Wareham (VIC)

Belinda Vakarewa (TAS)

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