Women’s Cricket has had limited media attention in recent years. There hasn’t been enough media coverage of the cricket matches, the female cricketers have hardly been involved in high-paying brand endorsements and they haven’t actually enjoyed the best facilities when they play international cricket as compared to men.
How the tide had turned after the 2017 Women’s World Cup? The World Cup was widely televised across the world, the matches had been interesting with some nail-biting finishes and the finals lived up to its expectation. The finals was played at Lords, the Mecca of world cricket. There were 24,000 people watching the finals at the ground and many watching at home as well. In a see-saw of fortunes, England prevailed and won the Cup. All teams returned home with their heads held high for a job well done and a lot of hearts won. Cricketers like Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur regularly appeared on television shows and commercials and women’s cricket was suddenly brought to life.
The momentum which was gained in 2017 continued all the way to 2018. The year saw many records broken and many new power-hitters coming to the forefront. Players like Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur and Alyssa Healy have injected some serious firepower to their respective line-ups and ensured that the innings totals that hovered earlier between 200 and 250 was increased to 250 and 300, sometimes even 300+. This is at par with men’s cricket. The same intensity and firepower is observed in T20 cricket as well.
Let’s have a look at some of the major highlights of 2018.
One Day Internationals
2018 has been a wonderful year for Women’s One Day Internationals. There have been many targets set which many would deem impossible in the past. This has been complemented with individual performances of immense substance and significance.
Out of the 37 innings total in excess of 300, as many as 8 has been made in 2018 alone. This is the highest number of instances of scores above 300 in a single calendar year.
No. of 300+ scores
What is more impressive is that there were only 39 matches played in 2018. Out of 76 completed innings (two innings could not be completed due to an abandoned match), 8 innings produced 300+ scores. Remarkably, both 1997 and 2017 were World Cup years where more matches had been played but lesser 300+ scores were made. This is a true testament to the growth of the firepower in women’s cricket.
If you look at the list of highest innings totals more closely, you will notice that totals of 400+ have been made only 5 times in women’s ODI. Out of these, 3 have come in 2018 alone. All have been scored by New Zealand against Ireland in June 2018 – 491/4 in the first ODI, 418 all out in the second and 440/3 in the third. The first ODI total of 491/4 stands as the highest innings total of all time in all ODIs – male or female.
The New Zealand Women’s tour of Ireland in 2018 was famous for another important milestone in the game. Amelia Kerr made the highest individual score in an ODI innings by scoring 232 not out in the third ODI, in which New Zealand posted 440 runs and won comprehensively by 305 runs. Amelia Kerr became only the second woman after Karen Rolton to score a double century in an innings.
Sophie Devine also had a very good 2018. She became only the fourth woman to score 3 centuries in a single calendar year. In addition to the 3 centuries, she scored 2 half-centuries as well. She played only 7 ODIs in 2018 out of which she scored 50+ in 5 of those innings, an outstanding achievement. Suzie Bates and Tammy Beaumont also had a good year scoring 2 centuries each.
Owing to the T20 World Cup held in West Indies in 2018, a lot of records were made and broken.
Out of the five highest totals by a women’s team in T20 internationals, 4 have been made in 2018 alone. South Africa was at the receiving end twice on the same day on 20th June, 2018 in Taunton. New Zealand first scored 216/1 in the afternoon and thrashed them by 66 runs. This was the highest innings score in a Women’s T20 International at that time. However, England went one step further and scored 250/3, the highest innings score in a T20 International which stands to this day, and beat South Africa by 121 runs. The score of 250/3 is the highest innings total by England in all T20 International – men or women. There were 2 other scores of 200+ that year. Australia made 209/4 against England during their tour of India in March and Namibia scored 210/5 against Lesotho in August.
India also scored their highest total in T20 Internationals ever in 2018 when they made 198/4 against England in March but it was successfully chased down. England scored 199/3 in that match, which was the highest score in a Women’s T20 International while batting second. Danni Wyatt scored 124 not out in only 64 balls and they chased the target with 8 balls to spare. Therefore, England ended up holding a unique record of the highest innings total in Women’s T20 International while batting first (250/3) and batting second (199/3).
Among individual performances, there have been only 10 centuries scored in Women’s T20 International of which 4 have come in 2018 itself. India’s Mithali Raj narrowly missed making it to the list as she remained on 97 not out against Malaysia in June. Out of the highest individual scores in Women’s T20 Internationals, 2 have come in 2018. Suzie Bates and Danni Wyatt scored 124 runs each and missed the top spot by 2 runs (Meg Lanning score 126 runs against Ireland in 2014 to top the list).
There have been a total of 9 instances of women scored 500+ runs in T20 Internationals in a calendar year of which 5 have happened in 2018 alone. Suzie Bates tops this list with 670 runs made in T20Is in 2018 and is closely followed by 3 Indians – Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana and Mithali Raj – and Australia’s Alyssa Healy.
Five women have made 600+ runs in a year of which 3 have achieved this feat in 2018 itself. The table below shows the women who have scored 600+ in T20Is in a single calendar year.
No. of Innings
2018 has also been a very successful for bowlers in T20Is. Poonam Yadav from India and Rumana Ahmed from Bangladesh became the first women to take 30+ wickets in T20Is in a calendar year. 4 out of the 5 highest wicket-takers in a calendar year are from 2018 itself. Megan Schutt from Australia and Leigh Kasperek from New Zealand round up that list.
There were some scintillating performances in franchise cricket as well. There has been 11 centuries hit in the Women’s Big Bash League out of which 6 were scored in 2018 alone. Australia’s Alyssa Healy and Ellyse Perry hit 2 centuries each in 2018. Out of the 5 highest totals in Women’s Super League in England, 4 have been scored in 2018 alone.
To sum up, 2018 has seen some excellent performances by women both as individuals and as teams. This showcases the great depth of talent that women’s cricket possess. As this talent is harnessed, we are witnessing that the gap between men’s and women’s cricket is slowly narrowing and women’s cricket will soon be in an even footing as compared to men’s cricket. Hopefully, 2019 is another year where such records are made and broken.