IF THE Southern Stars are to fly the flag for Australian cricket on World Twenty20 finals day in Sri Lanka, they will have to stare down a superpower in much the same way as Australian captain Jodie Fields fixed her gaze on the journalist who asked if her team was the underdog in today’s decider against England.
”Everyone’s talking about how England are favourites but Australia are the defending champions, and we want to win it,” Fields said, without blinking.
But England’s status as the best in the women’s game, with the best player, is undisputed.
Captain Charlotte Edwards has led her team to 24 wins in the past 25 matches. Sarah Taylor, a 23-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman, is rated No. 1 in the world by teammates and opponents, and as perhaps the only female who could thrive at first-class level.
Taylor snatched the match away from Australia in the group phase of the tournament at Galle, where she clattered 65 not out from 53 balls to bat England to a seven-wicket win. She’s quick behind the stumps, too, having cast off her keeping pads, which were getting in the way.
”I’m just a fielder with gloves on,” she once shrugged by way of explanation.
”Sarah is an exceptional player and … we all found it quite difficult to bowl to her [in the group match],” said Ellyse Perry, who bowled Australia into the final by removing the West Indies’ two most dangerous batsmen in the semi-final.
”Looking at that England game, in the field and with the ball, we didn’t do things as well as we would’ve liked and they really got away from us. It’s going to be a huge challenge [in the final] but the way we bowled today gives us a lot of confidence going into that match.”
Australia and England are the most professional teams in women’s cricket, but the England and Wales Cricket Board leads the way with its financial support for players.
Cricket Australia is catching up; Rachael Haynes has been appointed as a female engagement officer, while Alex Blackwell, Fields, Meg Lanning and Perry are contracted as ambassadors. Their job is to boost female participation, which increased by 27 per cent to 150, 178 in 2011-12.
England boasts three of the five leading batsmen in the tournament while the Australians, despite Lanning’s consistent starts and Jess Cameron’s ability to hit sixes, have not produced a half-century. They scrambled to 115 against the West Indies’ crafty spinners in the semi.
Nine players from the Australian squad that won the title in the Caribbean two years ago are in Colombo to defend it. Perry, the 21-year-old star whose smart last over clinched a thrilling win in the 2010 final against New Zealand in Barbados, said form would be irrelevant.
”That is a fantastic experience to have under our belts,” she said. ”A final is completely different to any other match … we defended a low total in that match and came up against a New Zealand side that had beaten us eight times in a row prior to that in Twenty20, and it was a wonderful result for us. A lot of us will draw from that.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.