James Sutherland

CA wants separate women's WT20

As women's game grows, Cricket Australia CEO Sutherland calls for standalone women's WT20

Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland says the rapid growth in women's cricket could allow the 2020 Women's World T20 tournament to be held as a standalone event.

All five Women's WT20s so far have been held concurrently with the men's tournament, giving the women's game extra exposure and allowing female players to experience the big-game atmosphere of playing the final on the same day and at the same venue as the men.

Following the 2016 tournament in India, the Women's WT20 will continue to be played as a biennial event with the men's tournaments to now be played every four years.

While the women's events in 2018 and 2022 will be standalones, the 2020 tournament is scheduled to run alongside the men's in Australia in 2020.

And Sutherland says the women's game is progressing at such a rate that it too could be held separately, in February and March ahead of the men's event in October and November.

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"I think this is fantastic to have the women on the same stage but I also think there’s a possibility that by hosting both events but having them separate, we might be able to build something even more unique and create more focus for the women," Sutherland told News Corp.

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"In four years' time, we might be at a stage where the World T20 for women can stand on its own two feet and in my view that might be a good idea to play that earlier in the year — having their own clear air at the end of our 2019-20 summer and then the men come in later in the year.

"It’s not really our decision ... we need to talk that through with the ICC."

Hosting the 2020 women's tournament at the end of the 2019-20 season would allow organisers to build on the momentum of the Women's Big Bash League, which would be in its fifth season.

ICC CEO Dave Richardson said the 2018 women's tournament in the West Indies will provide an indication as to whether or not future women's tournaments should also have standalone status.

"We'll see how that event goes in the West Indies," Richardson told Cricket Radio. "It's a matter for consideration.

"There's two schools of thought; some say (the women's players) benefit and they love being part of the men's event, others say 'no it deserves to have its own standalone status'.

"The women's game is going from strength to strength. I think this tournament, the fact that it's combined with the men's has done a wonderful job in helping the women's game grow and increasing the profile of the women’s event.  

"To the extent that we might have to start thinking ... as to whether the Women's World T20 justifies a standalone status.

"Because we don't want everyone to be focused on the men's and not on the women's."

The inaugural WBBL and the upcoming Women's Cricket Super League in England are further positive steps for women's cricket and generally for women's sport, which Sutherland believes has enjoyed a landmark few years.

The full impact of the WBBL became clear on Sunday when the West Indies women's team credited the new competition after their upset win over three-time winners the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars in the WT20 final in Kolkata.

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Windies opener Hayley Matthews, who played for the Hobart Hurricanes in the WBBL, was named player of the match in the decider for her knock of 66 off 45 balls.

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"Coming from playing in Australia, it helped me to already know a lot of the bowlers a lot better (and) what they're coming at me with," the 18-year-old said.

"Also working with my coaches in Australia, they really helped me a lot with my batting. Also my patience and even my confidence.

"I do think that really helped a lot."

West Indies skipper Stafanie Taylor, who scored 59 to finish both the leading run-scorer and player of the tournament, expressed similar sentiments.

"It actually helped us. Hayley's quite young and I think it was good exposure for her to go and build (to) what she's actually doing now," said Taylor, who helped steer the Sydney Thunder to the maiden WBBL title in January.

"She matured. You could see that out there in the way that she played." 

Sutherland said all women's sport was currently enjoying a significant period of growth.

"I'm just projecting forward and 2015 was a big year for women’s sport around the world and the respect for women’s sport was something that changed in the tide I think," he said.

"The women's World Cup soccer in Canada was huge. There were some great crowds and that’s something that we draw inspiration from to think well the next time we host a women’s event we want it to be something like that.

"Imagine playing a women’s World T20 final in the evening at 7pm at night, and how many people would you get to the ground, how many people would be watching on TV?

"Especially if Australia got through to the final, it would just be enormous and to have it as a curtain raiser in some ways might not do it justice."