There was a barrage of magnificent performances all around the women’s game in a year where the scary COVID 19 pandemic played the mayhem maker.
So as the year draws to a close, which individual and team performances made what could so have easily become an utterly forgettable year, a truly special one?
Female Cricket is delighted to bring you 6 key highlights from 2020!
1. The year of Radha Yadav and Shafali Verma, the rising stars from Harmanpreet, Mandhana-land!
One of the most interesting developments of 2020 was the incredible performances of young guns like Radha Yadav (slow left-arm orthodox)- India’s foxy spinner and the young and daring 16-year-old white-ball slapper from Haryana, Shafali Verma. In the mega tournament where playing bold but intelligently was the key, Shafali got India off to a flier against Australia all thanks to a daring 29.
Next, her 39 against Bangladesh would only cement her growing reputation as a brave batter who wastes no time in hunting the boundary or showing the fielders that gaps exist only to watch the white ball disappear under sunlight or moonshine. At a time where there was no Mithali Raj around and where the incredible Smriti Mandhana and even her brave captain Harmanpreet failed to produce many vital runs, one girl kept up the fight.
Meanwhile, Radha Yadav aced a show powered by fine, disciplined bowling. Make no mistake; she was once, like every other talent, waiting to get a chance to make a contribution in the game she can’t imagine life without.
Though today when one speaks about the girl from Mumbai, one speaks of the impact she had at the colossal stage of the Women’s T20 World Cup 2020. Think of Radha Yadav and you think of the awe-inspiring spell against Sri Lanka, where had it not been for a magnificently disciplined (also make that hard-to-score-of) spell of 4 for 23 (vs Sri Lanka, group stage game 14 of 23) that restricted the side to just 113. In return, bolstered by Shafali’s 47 off just 34 (Mandhana made 17, Harmanpreet 15), India comfortably numbed the Chamari Atapattu-led side with over 5 overs to spare.
— Female Cricket (@imfemalecricket) March 8, 2020
2. The Sensational Southern Stars
It isn’t a normal year in women’s cricket if Australian women don’t achieve anything fascinating-right?
So 2020 gave an ample example of the prowess of the Southern Stars that probably only a few might not be aware of, albeit only those who aren’t familiar with the bastion of brilliance that Australia is.
In winning a record fifth World T20, Australia bossed the game’s exciting format, playing at home.
And integral to yet another title was Meg Lanning’s excellent leadership; the megastar leading from the front, batting with usual control and inner strength, part of the 28-year-old’s definitive character. Her batting may not have clicked at the start of the mega-event but Lanning made it up when it most mattered. Take for instance the Singapore-born batter’s useful and timely 26 off 19 in the finals (against India) or for that matter the unbeaten 49 off as many deliveries against the Proteas women that earned Australia the spot in the finals.
But the point is, had the big-stage success been possible had it not been for some instances of priceless batting?
How about Beth Mooney’s unbeaten 78 off just 54 and her partner in crime and India’s hammerer #1 Alyssa Healy’s 75 off just 39?
Here’s some food for thought and a harmless question to the doting fan.
At a time where world cricket has come to a stage where the women’s game is not as such dependent on the men’s game (or theatrics to make it’s presence felt), how about if we allocated a new meaning to two of the finest batters albeit borrowing a phrase commonly used to describe Bates and Devine?
Aren’t Healy and Mooney (also the star of the Women’s Tri-series final, held prior to the T20 World cup courtesy a 54-ball-71) the new smash sisters of the women’s game?
That said- make no mistake for it wasn’t just batting where Australia women knocked the socks off their opponents.
— Female Cricket (@imfemalecricket) March 8, 2020
The bowlers too did good work in giving key breakthroughs in the entirety of the sparkling event. Take for instance Jess Jonassen’s economical show versus India in the opening contest (2 for 24 off 4) and also the very fact that in the widely-watched finals, Schutt and Jonassen (4 wickets again) took seven Indian wickets among themselves.
Just how often does that happen?
3. Thailand Creates History!
The Thailand women played a T20 World cup for the first time in their history and boy, it didn’t take the South East Asian nation to make its presence felt at the mother of all T20 international battles.
Not the scariest side that there was, but obviously due to a genuine lack of big-game experience, Thailand women took each contest at a time and proved with every game, why they are a dangerous (albeit rising) unit. Take the game against Pakistan women – one that was washed out even before Maroof’s team could set foot to the batting crease.
The Thailand women’s side reached, for the first time in their international playing history (and obviously also in their maiden T20 World cup appearance) a challenging total of 150. Was that even possible against a bowling attack – you may have wondered at some stage- that included Diana Baig, Anam Amin, or an Aliya Riaz?
An excellent display of cricket by Thailand Cricket.
Let us take a moment and appreciate their efforts!
— Female Cricket (@imfemalecricket) March 3, 2020
But some of the leading performances from Thailand’s stable came from the likes of Natthakan Chantham (56 off 50 versus Pakistan).
One must also include Thailand’s entirety of bowling effort against the West Indies in the same eminent tournament.
This, make no error of judgment, was a team much mightier than Thailand, but little did the bowling cauldron disappoint as thanks to the painfully correct tedium of sticking to a perfect line and disciplined length, the Thai women made the life of Taylor’s batters miserable. Surely chasing a 79 for a Windies can never be easy but who would’ve thought that Taylor’s team would take almost 17 overs to get over the line?
Moreover, in the game against the Proteas women, the Thailand team, despite going for one run too many (SA w making 195) had a few key names that stood up to exhibit skill and discipline with the ball.
In the same contest where even Suthhiruang (the first Thai cricketer to take an international hat-trick) went for over 10-an-over, talents like 23-year-old Onnicha Kamchomphu, slowed down the runs bowling a tight line, conceding only 14 from her spell of 2 overs. The most moving development of 2020, yet one that’ll serve a lesson of inspiration to up and coming talents
4. The Legacy of Sana Mir
Cricket likes a great name. Sachin is called the master blaster. Meg Lanning is respected as the Mega Star. Mithali Raj is an apostle of discipline.
And what about Sana Mir, the most successful spinner in the history of Pakistan women’s cricket?
Probably calling the 34-year-old (who called it a day, but not before holding the fort for a truly magnificent cricketing nation for 15 years) the ‘icon in the green’ may not be that bad an idea.
— Female Cricket (@imfemalecricket) April 25, 2020
What do you reckon?
At a time where Mir, 240 (151, including 1 fifer and 7 four-for in ODIs alone) international wickets could still have continued for, at least, 2 years, the ever-graceful figure of an eminence called it a day. Sana Mir, we hope you will continue to inspire a young generation of talent that recognizes you not only from Pakistan but also from everywhere where the sport is so loved.
5. Erstaunliches Deutschland
Mega highlights and usual attention so often rests with the big and established sides in the game – isn’t it? But 2020 shall always be remembered for the fact that it wasn’t any of the forces one’s habitual of seeing in the mainstream that brought back cricket from the dead but two teams that are rising in the Women’s game by the tick of the clock.
Think about it. Had it not been for the German Women’s and their Austrian counterparts, would we have seen women’s cricket return to where it did right when it had seemed that the COVID-19 would only overwhelm the sport in entirety? In what turned out to be an utterly one-sided T20 outing given the incredible (rather make that punishing) form of the Germans, the Golden Eagles ensured the Austrians were roasted akin to the best non-vegan serving anywhere on the planet.
A 5-nil outcome was achieved as a result of an excellent all-round show by the Anuradha Doddaballapur-led side wherein fireworks were ensured by stellar performances from both bat and ball.
WORLD RECORD ALERT 🚨
— Female Cricket (@imfemalecricket) August 14, 2020
While the mainstay of the German unit- Christina Gough powered a magnificent maiden century (101 not out)- it was brilliant efforts with the white ball, such as the captain’s awe-inspiring show of taking four successive wickets (in as many deliveries) that stamped Germany’s authority over the series.
What eventually became a hapless show of the Austrians was, you could say, down largely to spineless surrenders of the bat; the German women actually restricting Austria to no more than 50 in the 5th T20I.
But the point is- just who’d have expected such a morose show by the Austrians, a team led by the very talented and one must confess, understated Andrea-Mae Zepeda. Perhaps her unbeaten 35 in the curtain-raiser of the 5-match series was the only instance where the Austrians seemed comfortable at putting the bat to ball.
6. Ellyse Perry Perry Good
In cricket, the common denominator is the success with either bat or ball. But what is one’s opponent to do when confronted by a star who’s just as good with the ball as she is with the bat?
In an age where the game is reaching newer territories, where women’s talent is breaking boundaries and the established norms, one thing about the sport hasn’t quite changed: and it’s the massive respect that one of the true greats commands.
The name is Perry, Ellyse Perry and even as the finest all-rounder watched the sport from the sidelines in lines with a serious injury, her commanding form for the last decade earned her “ICC’s Greatest Women’s Cricketer of the Decade” salutation.
Let us take a moment and congratulate this superstar Ellyse Perry for ruling this decade.
🏆 Female Cricketer of the Decade,
🏆 Women’s ODI Cricketer of the Decade
🏆 Women’s T20I Cricketer of the Decade!
— Female Cricket (@imfemalecricket) December 28, 2020
Arguably speaking New South Wales’s finest contribution to Women’s cricket, Ellyse Perry is still the big deal in a game where there’s hardly a dearth of extremely handy talents. Think of Ashleigh Gardner (63 international wickets in addition to 1,100 plus runs). Think also of the gem Australia have in Emerald-born Jess Jonassen (968 runs- ODIs and T20Is combined, and not to mention the highest Test score of 99, apart from which there are 185 international wickets).
But Perry, on her own, can cause the wrecker-in-chief and warrants genuine respect.
WHAT A PHENOMENAL JOURNEY THIS 😍
— Female Cricket (@imfemalecricket) December 28, 2020
Sitting just 3 dismissals away from 300 international wickets (240 overall games, including all formats), the ever-smiling Australian dazzler has amassed a wealth of runs- over 3,000 in ODIs alone (27 fifties) and has collected over 1,200 plus T20I runs from just 72 batting outings.