Women’s Cricket takes centre stage on International Women’s Day

By Nav Ganesh
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Meg Lanning and Harmanpreet Kaur

Australia and India will contest the final of the Women’s ICC T20 Cricket World Cup tomorrow at the MCG to coincide with International Women’s Day.

Indra Nooyi, the former Chair and CEO of PepsiCo and currently a member of Amazon’s Board of Directors believes this will be a “major turning point for women’s sport.”

A few weeks ago at the tournament launch, I was fortunate enough to meet members of both sides and I must admit I didn’t know all the player names.

I stuck to speaking to stars like Australian captain Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry and the few Indian players I did recognise.

Whilst slightly embarrassed, it was reflective of the low profile that women’s cricket had over the years. This tournament has sought to change that image and along with the marketing, the actual product is compelling.

There have been several close matches and inspiring performances throughout the tournament, which has left fans at the edge of their seats. “It’s been the best experience,” commented Teresa Basile, GM Marketing at the ICC T20 World Cup.

The globalisation of cricket was further reflected by the participation of Thailand. And whilst results didn’t go their way, they steadily improved with each game and one of the enduring memories of the tournament would be their unique dance routine whilst waiting for the rain to stop.

Some may be critical of the low crowd numbers that attended games not involving Australia or India. However what is true is record numbers tuned in on TV and digitally. The popularity will only grow from here.

Nav Ganesh with Ellyse Perry

It is only fitting then that on the eve of the Final, close to 80,000 tickets has already been sold at the MCG. Katy Perry has been specially flown in from America to perform at the event twice and spent the afternoon today trying to get her head around cricket.

After 22 games, the tournament organising committee could not have dreamt of a better finale. “Hard to believe it all comes down to this, a dream final between two of cricket’s powerhouses in the world (Australia & India),” said Sunil Menon who was tasked with the role of community engagement at the ICC T20 World Cup.

These two sides met earlier in the opening game of the tournament – one where Australia was the firm favourites but it was India that triumphed.

India has the youngest average age of all the participating teams and in that opening match spun a web around Australia. Buoyed by that win, the side has emerged undefeated through the tournament.

It is simply staggering to believe that Shafali Verma is only 16 years of age, but with a strike rate of 161 in this tournament has already gained a reputation as a brilliant stroke-maker. Walking into the final, she is also the World’s premier batsman according to the official rankings.

India’s progress in this tournament is reminiscent of the Indian Men’s journey in the inaugural 2007 World T20. In that event, the senior stars like Tendulkar & Dravid had been rested and T20 cricket wasn’t considered seriously by the BCCI.

India led by a much younger MS Dhoni managed a win in the final against Pakistan and the rest is now history. The IPL followed in 2008 and the cricketing world hasn’t looked back since.

Australia will walk into the Final feeling confident and wanting to correct their game 1 loss. They are making their sixth successive Final appearance, whilst India is making their first.

Captain Meg Lanning struck a match winning 49* to guide Australia home in the Semi Final against South Africa. In her side, she has Megan Schutt who is the joint leading wicket taker (along with India’s Poonam Yadav) and a powerful batting line up lead by Beth Mooney and Alyssa Healey.

Indian skipper Harmanpreet Kaur has been struggling with the bat, but there is no better stage than the Final to turn the form around. In what could potentially be a fairy tale finish the final also happens to be her 31st birthday.

“It’s going to be a great day, and a very big day for me and I hope our team will do well. This is the only thing on my birthday I’m expecting and I hope I’ll get it,” said a hopeful Kaur on the eve of the big day.

Should India win the final, it could well be the defining moment for her and indeed women’s cricket in India.

It would revolutionise and fast track the sport in India and also inspire millions of women around the world with talks already floating around for a women’s IPL equivalent.

If Australia wins, it will be for a historic and record breaking fifth time, joining England as the only other host nation to lift the Cup.

Regardless of which team wins the game, this tournament has already made a mark in World Cricket but also has a chance to go down as one of the biggest spectacles in women’s sport.

That can only be a good thing!

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter
Dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
‘Cause I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar!


Nav Ganesh is the founder of Infinity Cricket. He enjoys media and has covered cricket at various venues across Australia, New Zealand & India also writing for the Indian Sun. Nav has also worked with many of the biggest brands and organisations across A/NZ such as Woolworths, eBay, Uber, Chemist Warehouse and Vodafone in his various senior corporate roles over the years. He is a keen supporter of India-Australia relations, is a community leader and believes sport is the perfect platform to bring people together and break barriers.
Visit: www.facebook.com/infinitycricket 

Follow The Indian Sun on Twitter.

 

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