ICC Women’s World T20 is now the jewel in the crown of world cricket

Australian Captain and 2005 World Cup winner Belinda Clark
©Reuters
 

There is a definite change in perception – the more cricket fans get to watch, the more they will enjoy the game, writes Belinda Clark, the former Australia captain.

The ICC Women’s World T20 is now the jewel in the crown of world cricket. I do not say this lightly; to witness the evolution of women’s cricket, first from on the field, and now from outside the boundary, has been a privilege, and we are on the cusp of another giant step.

After a stupendous Women’s World Cup in 2017, this event coming up in the West Indies will be amazing. I believe on their day all teams can beat each other and that makes for an exciting competition, and I can't wait for it to start.

T20 cricket has been a game changer for cricket and the women’s game has benefited enormously from this format. The growth in the game has been phenomenal, at both ends of the spectrum. It is happening at the international level with more teams challenging each other, and the impact has also been felt at community and school levels, where girls are turning up in droves to play the game.

Just like the T20 format, another catalyst has been how much cricket there is on TV nowadays. The volume of cricket being broadcast has had a remarkable impact on the game and the perceptions of it. Every time women are on TV playing, a number of people see it for the first time, and they are amazed by the quality of the players.

This is why the ICC events and the related TV coverage is so important to continue to grow the fan base. The recent ICC Global Market Research project showed that almost 70% of the one billion plus cricket fans around the world were interested in the women’s game and wanted to see more, so there is a definite change in perception – the more cricket fans get to watch, the more they will enjoy the game.

Whilst Australia are ranked No.1 in T20 cricket, they will still be smarting from the loss to India in the semi-finals of the ICC Women’s World Cup in England last year. I have no doubt that they will approach every game with a strong desire to bring their best to the contest.

I am sure they are very aware of the implications of being off your game, even if by only five percent. And although this is a high pressure tournament, I’m sure the squad will enjoy every opportunity and aim to soak up the local vibe whilst in the West Indies.

This promises to be a tournament full of high-end talent.  I will be keeping an eye on Suzie Bates, Meg Lanning and Harmanpreet Kaur, but watch out for the spinners, I have a feeling they will dominate with the ball and am looking forward to seeing those battles.

It’s an important time for the host team as well. They are the defending champions and are hosting the world in their backyard. I am sure the event will be a great catalyst for young girls to take their dreams to the next level.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to have this event as a standalone one, just as the Women’s World T20 2020 in Australia will be. It’s a great opportunity for the women to take centre stage and capture the hearts and minds of the public. These are not only great players but many have fascinating stories that will emerge throughout the tournament.

Women’s cricket has found a new wind in the last five years, and I’ve been privileged to help shape that journey both in Cricket Australia and the ICC. My vision is to stay on the same trajectory that we have seen over the last five years.

The game is moving forward very quickly and I think in 10 years time the teams in these events would have been expanded, some non-traditional cricket countries would be playing in these events and challenging the big guns. The game would have continued to spread across the globe and will be laying down a strong platform for girls to participate in any country.

 

(ICC Hall of Famer Belinda Clark is a former Australia captain and World Cup winner who held the highest ODI score until recently and averaged over 45 in both Tests and ODIs. She is presently a member of ICC’s Cricket Committee)

©Cricket World 2018