Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Women's World Cup: halfway review
In my last blog post, I wrote about the existence of a two-tier system within women's cricket, in which England, Australia, New Zealand and India sit comfortably within the top tier, with the other countries involved in this World Cup (West Indies, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka) located within the bottom tier.
This tournament has rendered the idea of a two-tier system almost entirely obsolete.
Yesterday, the hosts, India, were knocked out of the tournament by a supposedly second-tier team, Sri Lanka. This, of course, followed on from Sri Lanka's spectacular victory over England on Friday (see my last post).
Sri Lanka must have known that their victory against England might well be considered a crazy one-off, but they came out fighting, and determined to prove everyone wrong. A few stats to put their innings into perspective:
1. Mendis (55), Rasangika (84), Siriwardene (59) and Kaushalya (56*) all made scores of 50+. Before this tournament, only four Sri Lankan women had achieved this feat; the number has now doubled.
2. Rasangika's 84 in 109 balls is the highest score ever by a Sri Lankan in a World Cup.
3. Kaushalya's 56 in 31 balls (including 3 sixes) places her at the top of the list of Sri Lankan batters by strike rate, with 88.88. (The top six on the list are all members of the team which played yesterday.)
4. Sri Lanka eventually reached 282-5 – their highest EVER score in an ODI by a long way (the previous highest was 252-5 against Ireland in 2011).
In the Indian innings, Sri Lanka fielded no less than seven bowlers. How many took wickets? All of them. It was as if they were deliberately making a statement: “we are ALL awesome. Hear us roar.” And so they were, bowling India out for 144 in 42.2 overs. India were completely outperformed, by a team who were on no-one's radar before this tournament started. They are now.
I'm almost sure Sri Lanka won't go on and win this tournament, or even beat Australia or New Zealand. But that doesn't matter. Reaching the Super Sixes stage, and beating two of the world's top-tier teams in the process, is more than enough. For now.
There's been some incredible performances so far in the tournament, leading me to spend much of each match with a zillion statsguru tabs open as I try to put each result into its statistical-historical context.
For instance, there have already been eight centuries scored – this equals the record for most centuries scored in World Cups, a record which is on course to be beaten over the next few days. This includes Stafanie Taylor's 171 (the third highest total EVER by a woman in an ODI) against Sri Lanka; Devine's 145 against South Africa (the second highest total in an ODI by a Kiwi, following Bates' 168 against Pakistan in the 2009 tournament); Edwards' 109 v India (she is now the leading run-scorer in women's ODIs, on 4901); and Kapps' 102* v Pakistan (making her the highest scoring South African ever in World Cups).
(For a full list, see below.)
There have also been 12 partnerships of 100+ runs; in 2009 there were only 5 century partnerships in the whole tournament. This includes the highest ever partnership for South African women in a World Cup (128 runs between Kapp and van Niekerk) and Sri Lanka's highest partnership against India (117 runs, between Mendis and Rasangika) and England (103 runs, between Jayangani and Mendis).
(For a full list, see below.)
For me, two bowling performances stand out. Candy's 5-19 against Pakistan is the best performance by a New Zealander in a World Cup since 1993. In her first ever World Cup match, she was deadly accurate. And Brindle's 3 wickets for no runs in 2 overs against the West Indies was a spectacular performance, and a career-best.
(For a list of the best bowling figures, see below.)
Lastly, the list of highest totals in women's ODIs has also been dented. The West Indies made 368-8 v Sri Lanka, which is now number seven on that list; New Zealand's 321-5 against South Africa is the tenth. India scored their highest World Cup total ever, 284-6, against the West Indies. And of course Sri Lanka achieved their highest ever ODI total.
What we are seeing are the results of the increasing professionalisation of the women's game over the last few years. It should surely be clear to everyone from Sri Lanka's performances that, if you support your women cricketers financially, they will reward that support with victories. And that, if you don't, they are liable to be knocked out of a tournament in its earliest stages, even when they are playing in home conditions. If I was Mithali Raj, I'd be aiming a big “screw you” right now in the BCCI's direction.
Predictions for the Super Sixes? Given that Australia carry through the most points (4) and looked confident in their victory against New Zealand, I'd say they're favourites for the final. The likelihood is that it'll come down to the final match of the Super Sixes between New Zealand and England to decide who joins them there. Bates is in the runs (leading run-scorer of the tournament so far, on 240) so, as an England fan, I'll be nervous. Nonetheless, if Edwards and Brunt are back to being fighting fit (Edwards apparently felt under the weather during the match against the West Indies, and Brunt suffered an ankle injury after over-zealous wicket celebrations!), I'd like to hope we're on target for another Australia-England final.
But, to be honest, if there's one lesson we can take from this tournament (and indeed, from the world of cricket generally over the last couple of months), it's that cricket defies expectation and predictability. Anything could happen! I love it!
There'll be more 3.30am starts for me over the next few days, and more nocturnal living. But that's okay. Already, we've seen the two greatest upsets in the history of the women's game over the course of less than a week. For what feels like the first time, the world is watching, and women's cricket is not letting itself down. It's worth getting up for.
Stafanie Taylor 171 v Sri Lanka
Sophie Devine 145 v South Africa
Meg Lanning 112 v New Zealand
Charlotte Edwards 109 v India
Harmenpreet Kaur 107* v England
Marizanne Kapp 102* v Pakistan
Suzie Bates 102 v Australia
Thirush Kamini 100 v West Indies
175 (1st wicket), Raut and Kamini v West Indies
103 (1st wicket), Jayangani and Mendis v England
128 (3rd wicket), Bates and Devine v South Africa
102 (5th wicket), Devine and Browne v South Africa
122 (3rd wicket), Chetty and Kapp v Australia
100 (2nd wicket), Edwards and Taylor v India
106 (4th wicket), Kaur and Jain v England
110 (3rd wicket), Taylor and Kyshona Knight v Sri Lanka
103 (5th wicket), Bates and Perkins v Australia.
182 (2nd wicket), Lanning and Cameron v New Zealand
128* (6th wicket), Kapp and van Niekerk v Pakistan
117 (2nd wicket), Mendis and Rasangika v India
Best bowling figures:
Candy 5-19 v Pakistan (career-best)
Shrubsole 4-21 v West Indies (career-best)
Brunt 4-29 v India
Ruck 4-31 v South Africa (career-best)
Ismail 4-41 v Australia
Brindle 3-0 v West Indies (career-best)