2018 was a very difficult year for Australian cricket. During the men’s tour of South Africa in March, Cameron Bancroft was caught tampering the ball in the Newlands Test and he, along with Steve Smith and David Warner, were banned from cricket for the next 12 months. Since then, Australia Men’s team was in a free-fall, subsequently losing the Test series against South Africa, against Pakistan in the UAE and against India at home. In that period, they managed to win only one test in as many as 7 attempts. They also lost the ODI series against South Africa and India during that period. It was the year in which Australian cricket in general and Australian Men’s Cricket in particular lost its competitiveness and credibility. In fact, the situation was so dire that many were just waiting for their captain and their vice-captain to be back after their ban period expired.
The saving grace during the year 2018 was the Australia Women’s Team. They consistently set the benchmark for Australian cricket by being ahead of the rest while remaining professional and competitive.
Let us look at how their women’s team fared in 2018.
Performance in One Day Internationals
Their first assignment in 2018 was a challenging one. They were to face the World Cup runners-up India in India. It is worth noting that for men’s cricket, India is one of the toughest countries to tour and the Men’s team has found it difficult to win in India since the turn of the century. However, when the turn of women came, they not only managed to win matches but comprehensively beat India 3-0 in their own turf. The first ODI was won comfortably with Nicole Bolton making a classy century and Jess Jonassen picking up 4 wickets. In the second ODI, Bolton and Ellyse Perry made vital contributions to set a winning total and Jess Jonassen again contributing with the ball. In the third ODI, Alyssa Healy made a quick-fire century as they racked up 332 runs for the loss of 7 wickets. This time, Ashleigh Gardner picked up 3 wickets.
They next played against Pakistan in Malaysia in October. They shot Pakistan out for 95 in the first ODI with Megan Schutt and Nicole Carey picking up 3 wickets each. Australia chased down the small target with more than 27 overs to spare. They won again in the second ODI with Meg Lanning scoring a century ably supported by Rachel Haynes. Sophie Molineux picked up 4 wickets. In the third ODI, Australia made 300+ with Alyssa Healy hitting a blistering 97 and Ashleigh Gardner again putting up a great all-round performance. Australia was again able to win the series 3-0.
When it comes to the performance of the Australian Women’s Cricket Team in T20 matches, 2018 was actually a very good year for them.
The favourable results started in March itself when they won the Triangular T20 tournament against a formidable England side and hosts India. They won the tournament by beating England in the final in Mumbai. Thanks to Meg Lanning’s stroke-filled 88, they managed to pile on 209/4 and kept the 50-over World Cup champions to just 152/9. Schutt again picked up 3 wickets in that match. It was a series in which they just lost one match out of five – against England. That too, with their most-capped player recently retired and their captain coming back from an injury. It was a series when 4 of the top-ten T20 scores were hit in women’s T20 cricket. Two were hit by Australia alone. Megan Schutt even accomplished a hat-trick against India in one of those matches.
Their tour to India was followed by New Zealand’s tour of Australia in September. Australia won all the 3 matches convincingly, chasing comfortably in all 3 occasions. Their top performers were Alyssa Healy with the bat scoring 2 half-centuries and Megan Schutt and Ellyse Perry with the ball. They toured Malaysia the following month to face Pakistan in 3 ODIs and 3 T20s. After winning the ODI series, they completed the whitewash by beating Pakistan 3-0. Alyssa Healy again hit 2 half-centuries for her team. Molineux picked up 10 wickets in 3 matches and was the highest wicket-taker in the series.
The series was followed by the Women’s World T20 tournament in the West Indies in November. Australia was crowned champions for the fourth time beating England in the final. They won a total of 5 matches out of their 6 matches including the semi-finals and finals. Alyssa Healy was the top run-getter scoring 225 with a 50+ average and Ashleigh Gardner and Megan Schutt being the joint highest wicket- takers along with Deandra Dottin with 10 wickets. Ellyse Perry finished with 9 wickets to her name.
To add to this, the Women’s Big Bash League was also well-received and this season raised the level of the tournament. Sydney Sixers scored the second-highest total in an innings and the third 200+ total in the tournament. Ellyse Perry, also an Australian, became the first player to score 700+ runs in a single edition of the tournament. Out of 11 centuries scored in the tournament, 6 were scored in this season alone.
What we have observed from the performance of the Australian team is that they have had consistent performers throughout the year. Alyssa Healy performed very well with the bat and was supported by Meg Lanning and Ashleigh Gardner throughout the year. Among the bowlers, Megan Schutt was the pick of the bowlers. However, the whole team performed well and they had individual performances by many of their players.
To put the performance of the team in perspective, they played 6 ODIs and won every one of them that year. They also played as many as 17 T20 Internationals and lost just two of them. Their overall win-loss percentage stands at a staggering 91% for 2018. In the same period, the men’s team played 11 Tests in 2018 and won only 3 of them. They played 13 ODIs and won only 2 of them. They play 19 T20Is and won 10 of them. The corresponding win-loss percentage for the men’s team thus stands at only 35%. This alone is enough to tell you that, in a country that traditionally holds a lot of importance to cricket as a sport, it is their women’s team that has helped restore the pride and credibility and not the men’s. In this regard, the men have been left far behind and it is the women who are flying high.