18 February 2013

The enhanced value and importance of Women's Cricket

Firstly, a quick but important line of thanks is due to all of you who voted for The Baggy Green Blog to win the Sportskeeda award for 'Best Team Specific Blog'.

I honestly had no idea I'd even been nominated so it was a welcome surprise. I am proud that the site continues to connect with so many cricket fanatics around the globe and even in the tough times Australian Cricket faces the site still has perceived value and purpose.

The other winners can be found here, following Football, Cricket and other sports.

While our boys are slogging it out to try find the right recipe to battle India in Chennai for the 1st Test of the Border-Gavaskar series, the Australian Women's Cricket Team - The Southern Stars - have lifted the trophy as winners of the ICC Women's ODI World Cup after beating the West Indian Women's Team. This is our sixth title.

© AFP The Southern Stars celebrate their win.
It's not only a win for Australian Cricket but the game in general, especially with the spread of cricket to women around the globe. You'd have to be daft to dismiss the quality of the cricket witnessed and the professionalism shown by the players who took part in the competition to battle it out for the world's best ODI side.

A surprising number of people I have spoken to who watched a few of the games that were broadcast live on the television were mighty impressed with the TV coverage and more so with the skill that was on display.

It was amusing how many blokes I know admitted, with complete surprise, that they never knew female cricketers were so good, those who'd never watched a game before.
I have often said that if I were to bat against some of these fast bowlers, I'd be focusing on quite a bit more than simply trying to not get bowled out by a woman!
Sharp swing, menacing pace and yorkers, as well as a few short balls sailing by the grill certainly ensures one is alert and has their batting skills ready for execution.

It's not casual anymore, it's competitive and it's about time women were given a bigger launch pad for awareness of the teams and level of skill they produce.

The fielding was a drastic improvement since the 2009 World Cup and largely due to the injection of interest Women's Cricket was given through the introduction of the ICC Women's World T20 Trophy.

Teams have had to up their standards - as have the men's teams - in regards to the fielding aspect with the speed at which Twenty20 cricket is played and I noted several observations of the Southern Stars higher standards. There is more aggressive intensity and athleticism now, which helps adds to the speed of a game which is notably slower in match speed and hype than the Men's game.

Twenty20 has clearly helped the batting as statistics show 67 sixes and 1066 fours were struck, the most ever in the tournament. If you didn't catch any of the games trust me when I say some of the sixes were crisp and mean! The run-rate has also seen an increase as the tournament had a collective rate of 4.27 per over, the highest ever. To combat this heightened level of attack bowlers have had to sharpen up on their skills.

Another notable aspect is with the actual players profiles. Many of the cricketer's have been at the game a while now, numerous ones new to the international game.

England's Charlotte Edwards has been featured on numerous cricket programs over the years and is well recognised in the English cricket community with a career now well over a decade, but only in recent times through better broadcasting reach and media awareness has her cricketing profile been given greater notoriety to the general cricketing public, along with the top class achievements in her career.

It's not just a sideline thing to these players. It's a very serious, highly competitive personal environment they compete within and the acknowledgement only helps to feed the hunger for higher standards and personal achievements.

When a new bowler would come on or a new batsman/woman would walk out to the crease to take guard, the commentators had more of a story to tell, more performances to recall and supporters had better familiarity with the players.

When newcomers Holly Ferling and Megan Schutt (who claimed the most wickets in the tournament with 15 at 16.53) came onto bowl this tournament their stories as emerging players were told and this only added to the reputation both of these young women now have at the closure of the tournament. Come the next event they will be watched with great interest and their input in this tournament clearly recalled.

Along with the better recognition of player statistics and profile stories there was the main factor: Performance.

Watching Megan Lanning and Rachael Haynes (273 at 45.50) open the batting you sense a genuine top order relationship as two cricketers who get each others game and find ways to complement one another. They stroke play and skills they show is a joy to watch and really refreshing.

Following the end of a batting partnership between the two of them sees Jess Cameron walk out to bat who is fast becoming the ODI equivalent to that of Ricky Ponting for the Southern Stars in the number 3 spot. After winning the Women's Cricketer of the Year award at The Allan Border Medal Awards she totally justified it with 225 runs at 37.50 in the tournament, highlighted by 75 runs in the final at a ferocious strike-rate of 98.68.

I dug out some statistics regarding Australia's top 3 and came out with the following, as seen on my Twitter page:

- In 11 innings Meg Lanning & Rachael Haynes have scored 452 runs at 41.09. Highest of 131 runs.
- In 11 innings Rachael Haynes & Jess Cameron have scored 510 runs at 51.00. Highest of 77*.

That's an indication of a cracking top order in ODI cricket.

Ellyse Perry, a favourite amongst many cricket followers, set things up brilliantly to snuff the Windies run chase as she displayed a wonderful rhythm and shined with confidence to walk away with figures of 3-19, just 1.90 runs per over. Injury scares were there but she braved it. As young as she is she is portrayed as a senior bowler and I am sure the entire crop of bowlers would have soaked up as much from her as possible.

Despite the praise and the awesome victory by The Southern Stars, the day of women reaping the rewards that men's teams receive is highly unlikely, at least for the foreseeable future.
It's not pessimistic nor is it degrading to women's cricket when I write this. It's simply the game has a greater demand come Men's Professional Cricket, which does produce the highest standard of cricket, has greater intensity and a richer history.

However, if Women's Cricket needed a push in the right direction for greater credibility, awareness and a sign that they're becoming better and better with each tournament showcased, then watch this space because we're going to be seeing far more of it!

Hopefully we will see more women of all relevant ages wanting to get involved in this great game of ours, especially with a new generation of female cricketing heroines.
Cricket has never had a shortage of female following or passionate interest in the game but the more involvement we see (not just on the playing field) the better cricket will benefit in the long run.

These mentioned factors and the overall result of the 2013 ICC Women's World Cup should relay the importance of women in cricket.

So, on that positive note well done to skipper Jodie Fields and her Southern Stars team-mates and support staff, as well as every other side that took part in the event. The ICC did a great job on their part as did the host-country India. After hosting the men's 2011 World Cup they managed to pull off a pretty successful tournament.

Aussie all-rounder Lisa Sthalekar also announced her retirement from international cricket following the win. Sad but it's a deserved decision given her achievements.

As per The Baggy Green Blog Facebook page:

"...the Southern Stars won the ICC Women's World Cup in India. Jess Cameron showcased why she won the Women's Player of the Year award at the Allan Border Medal Awards night with a cracking innings at number 3. 

All in all just splendid to see the quality of cricket on display throughout the tournament. Notable batting from the top order duo of Haynes and Lanning, as well as our bowlers which unleashed some new talent onto the scene. 

Excellent for cricket, great for Australian cricket, even better for spreading the game to connect with both men and women around the globe. 

Also, Lisa Sthalekar has announced her retirement. 
Kudos to her on a well profiled career as a leading all-rounder. 


8 matches, 15 innings, 416 runs, HS 120*, Avg 32.00.
8 matches, 482 runs with 23 wickets, BBI 5/30, BBM 6/114, Avg 20.95, ER 1.65.


125 matches, 111 innings, 2728 runs, HS 104*, Avg 30.65.
125 matches, 3646 runs with 146 wickets, BBI 5/35, Avg 24.97, ER 3.66.


54 matches, 50 innings, 769 runs, HS 52, Avg 21.36.
54 matches, 1161 runs with 60 wickets, BBI 4/18, Avg 19.35, ER 5.82."

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