Sri Lankan skipper Chamari Athapaththu believes that the postponement of the global qualifiers for the Women’s world cup 2022 from June-July to December 2021 is a positive sign for the teams. Not having played international cricket for over a year now, hosts Sri Lanka’s skipper feels that additional time to prepare for the qualifiers is an advantage.
“To get additional four-five months for our preparation is a good thing because we haven’t played any international cricket in over 13 months. Things have been uncertain because of the Covid-19 pandemic and I was a bit worried that if the event went ahead as scheduled, we would have been underprepared. I hope that leading up to December we get a few more series apart from the one against Pakistan that our board is trying to organize,” said Athapaththu in a chat with Annesha Ghosh for ESPN India.
Only 5 teams namely India, Australia, South Africa, England, and New Zealand have qualified for the World Cup and the berth is open for 3 more teams. Since Pakistan Cricket Board and Sri Lanka Cricket have not yet finalized on a potential tour for a limited-overs match and they’re still at a preliminary stage, the tour, if it so happens, will take place only after May.
“Getting some match practice on a regular basis is going to be very important for us before the Qualifiers. Thailand’s debut in the T20 World Cup last year was proof of the kind of challenge teams outside of the top-ranked nations can present on the world stage. We cannot afford to take anyone lightly because it’s a qualification to a World Cup that’s at stake,” she said.
“If there are long gaps [for teams] without any cricket for say a year or a year-and-a-half, even the best look ordinary. I followed the recent series between India and South Africa. India is a top side, but they hadn’t played for a year, so they couldn’t play well. On the other hand, because South Africa had played some games before coming to India, they looked far better even in the absence of some of their senior players,” she added.
Athapaththu also expressed her views upon the inaugural U-19 Women’s World Cup which was supposed to take place this year but has been postponed, alongside other events, to 2023.
She said- “We have a good bunch of Under-19 girls. The school cricket tournaments were on over the past few weeks and I think a few girls were on the radar as far as making the potential squad for the Under-19 World Cup was concerned. But, unfortunately, most of them will no longer be able to take part in it because a gap of two years is a sizeable one.”
In addition to that, she said- “Age-group tournaments come with age-related restrictions, so not having the tournament this year is a very disappointing thing for those young Sri Lankan girls and for me as an international cricketer. I feel bad for them because our qualifiers have also been postponed, but we will still get a chance [to compete in that tournament], but so many of these girls won’t. We will now have to look for pretty much a fresh bunch of girls to field in the 2023 edition.”
The World Cup 2022 is set to take place in New Zealand from March 4 to April 3, where 8 teams will fight for the championship.
(Credits: Annesha Ghosh, ESPN)
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