The semi finals of the 2012 ICC T20 World Cup had the island nations playing off for a finals spot.
It may be logical to think that the larger nations of England and Australia should have gone through. These teams have stronger national and domestic systems, larger populations and in this tournament the better form.
However this does not always mean better results in the women’s game as New Zealand have been punching above their weight for years and the West Indies now have the opportunity to join the big three which would alter the dynamics of the women’s game, and most would agree for the better.
A historic occasion
Sunday’s game at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo will be the first time Australia and England have met in a final since 1988. Add to that Australia has never lost to England in a World Cup Final in three outings and history is on the Southern Stars side.
The last time the two teams met in a semi final was in England at The Oval, in 2009 and they produced one of the best T20 games seen. Shelley Nitschke (37) lead from the front inspiring a top order performance that saw Leah Poulton (39), Lisa Sthalekar (28) and Karen Rolton (38) provide the bulk of the imposing 5/163 total. Only England’s Laura Marsh bowled with success taking 1/12 off her four overs.
With the openers Sarah Taylor (6) and Charlotte Edwards (25) dismissed and England requiring in excess of 8.5 an over to go through to the first ever ICC T20 World Final the stage was set. The 122 run partnership between Clare Taylor (76) and Beth Morgan (46) had the crowd in raptures and converted many a fan to the women’s game.
So what can we take from the tournament so far that will give us an indication of how this final will pan out?
England have gone through undefeated, a statement in itself. Their wins ranged between solid to thrashings only really ever being tested by Australia.
At their helm are one of the best partnerships in women’s cricket. No not Laura Marsh and Charlotte Edwards, although they are fairly handy, but Edwards and the England coach Mark Lane.
Lane took over as head coach in 2008 having had years of experience in the women’s game as Clare Taylor’s batting coach. He knows the women’s game well, has helped, with Edwards, shape a team that is constantly striving for excellence and has a noticeable team bond that contributes to their success.
The England team is well balanced with a variety of players that compliment each other well in most situations. Their top order hasn’t missed a beat really since the retirement of Clare Taylor with Laura Marsh’s ‘fill in’ role now a regular position and more often than not a regular success.
They have pace and spin covered with stand out performers in Katherine Brunt - fast and fiery, Marsh - new ball spin expert, and Holly Colvin - regular wicket taker. What they don’t have and haven’t required is that medium, off pace bowler option that can prove to be handy in the middle overs.
The Southern Stars road to the final wasn’t as convincing yet sometimes the rockier road can teach you more and harden you for the big battles ahead.
The journey to here
Australia’s first loss wasn’t against England but to illness with Sarah Coyte to sick to continue the tour and returning home. Coyte was often the go to bowler for the Stars with an uncanny knack of picking up a wicket in her first spell. It is a double loss as she also bolstered the middle to lower order with the bat.
The round game loss to England was certainly winnable and for most Australia was in a position to take the points. Until a cameo knock of 33 off 17 by Dannie Wyatt sealed the win for England. That aside there are some great signs for the Stars and their supporters.
Switch on broken record to hear Lisa Sthalekar is in great form with bat and ball. And if she keeps bowling spells of six runs off her four overs as she did against the West Indies her number one ICC T20 bowling ranking will be safe for a long time. Ellyse Perry was superb in the semi against the Windies and Julie Hunter is the leading wicket taking in the tournament with nine.
Without recording a big individual total…yet…the Australian top order have the game to put pressure on any of the England bowlers through a mix of power and placement. What better time to put it all together than on the biggest stage of all.
With the opportunity of becoming the first country to win two ICC WT20 titles up for grabs for both teams the game could not be set up any better for another classic Australia v England encounter.
First Posted 07 October, 2012 10:46AM AEST