The 2022 edition of the Women’s World Cup is scheduled to begin on 4th March 2022. Being held in New Zealand for the third time, the marquee event in the women’s calendar will consist of 31 matches culminating in the finals on April 3rd at Christchurch.
There are a total of 8 teams participating in the tournament. Australia, England, South Africa, and India obtained direct entry to the tournament along with the host New Zealand. With the Qualifier for the tournament canceled mid-way last year, the final 3 spots were determined through the ODI rankings at the end of the league, which meant that Bangladesh, Pakistan, and West Indies made the cut.
The 8 teams will be playing each other once in a round-robin format and the top four teams will advance to the knockouts.
Australia will begin their campaign on March 5th taking on arch-rivals England at Hamilton.
Since their ouster at the hands of India in the last World Cup, they have played 33 ODIs winning a staggering 31 out of those, including an unbeaten run of 26 matches, the longest streak of victories among men and women combined.
Australia have announced a 15-member squad for the tournament:
Main Squad: Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Grace Harris, Rachael Haynes (vice-captain), Alyssa Healy (wicketkeeper), Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Meg Lanning (captain), Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Amanda-Jade Wellington
Reserve Players: Heather Graham and Georgia Redmayne
Hannah Darlington was originally named as one of the reserve players travelling with the squad but withdrew later and was replaced by Heather Graham.
- Dominant in big-match situations:
Much like their counterparts in men’s cricket in late 90s and early 2000s, the Australian team thrives on big-match situations and tournaments. They have been consistent performers, winning the World Cup 6 times in 11 appearances. They have featured in the finals of the tournament on 8 occasions. The following table highlights their achievements.
|World Cup Placements||No. of Times||Instances|
|Champions||6||1978, 1982, 1988, 1997, 2005, 2013|
|Other Positions||2||1993, 2009|
They have been equally strong in the World T20s winning 5 out of 7 editions, including their recent triumph at home. This record is enough to boost their morale and make them a confident side going into this tournament. They are already being touted as the pre-tournament favorites to lift the trophy, yet again.
- Experienced Core:
The Australian squad has got a very strong core with a lot of experience in varied match situations. The captain, Meg Lanning, has been leading the team through all these years winning everywhere across the world. With 4000 runs to her name at an average of over 50, she is Australia’s mainstay in the batting department. Alyssa Healy is the fearsome opener who will be tasked to get the fast starts that her team needs whereas Ashleigh Gardner and Jess Jonassen lend the fireworks at the end. The bowling is equally experienced with Megan Schutt and Ellyse Perry shouldering the responsibility.
- Strong Batting Line-up:
As evident from the recent performance in the Ashes, the Australian batting line-up is strong and reliable. Alyssa Healy and Rachel Haynes lend a good opening foundation, built on by Meg Lanning, Ellyse Perry and Beth Mooney. Along with Mooney, Ashleigh Gardner and Jess Jonassen are power-hitters capable of decimating any bowling attack in the world. The following table illustrates the strength of their batting.
- Capable All-Rounders:
The Australian attack has capable all-rounders who can contribute heavily with bat or ball. In addition to the 3000+ runs made by Ellyse Perry, she has claimed 156 wickets including the best figures of 7/22. Jess Jonassen has also scored 500+ runs but also has 118 wickets to her name. Ashleigh Gardner has played 42 games and already has 500+ runs and is closing in on 50 wickets, she has already claimed 43 of them. Tahlia McGrath has shown what she is capable of in her strong performances against India and England.
- Inexperienced Bowling Attack:
If their batting unit is strong, the Australian bowling attack is weak in comparison. Australia will be missing the services of the highly talented Tayla Vlaeminck, who can trouble batters with her express pace. They will also be disappointed with the loss of Sophie Molineux, the frontline leg-spinner who was ruled out due to a foot injury. Megan Schutt will be the backbone of the bowling attack supported by Ellyse Perry, Jess Jonassen and Ashleigh Gardner. Although all are experienced, none of them are specialist bowlers and Perry, the most successful of the three not being able to bowl long spells. The others, Darcie Brown, Amanda-Jade Wellington, and Alana King are inexperienced, have played only 19 matches between them.
- Early attack while batting or bowling:
With both Alyssa Healy being quite aggressive and ruthless at the top while batting and Megan Schutt bowling very tight lines and constant threat to other teams while bowling, if the Australians get to a good start while batting, or pick up a few wickets early while bowling, it may put their opposition on the backfoot and improve their chances of winning.
- Emerging talent will be looking to prove themselves:
Australia have talented players who are quite new to their one-day setup. Not having played a lot of cricket, they will be eager to make their mark. We have already seen the quality that young girls like Tahlia McGrath and Darcie Brown possess. They are sure to use this opportunity to make a big splash in international cricket and will also be a challenge to many teams, who will most likely face them for the very first time and will not know what to expect from them.
- Workload Management of Ellyse Perry:
Ellyse Perry has been a special player for Australian women’s cricket. It is no doubt that she is a certainty in the playing XI and will look to contribute to their fortunes in the tournament. However, she has not been the same since the injury she suffered at the Women’s World T20 at home in 2020. She has not played any innings of note with only a half-century and a three-for in her 9 matches since her comeback. The fact that she is not being able to bowl her quota of her overs remains a concern for the team.
- Susceptible to Batting Collapses:
Of late, the great Australian team has not had strong batting performances the way they had dominated in the past. They are prone to losing quick wickets and putting pressure on themselves too often, often depending on their middle-order to bail them out as was evident in the group stages of the World T20 and more recently at home, where India were able to snap their unbeaten streak.
To conclude, Australia is undoubtedly the favorites to lift the trophy, backed by the strong showing in this format and the record of the key players. However, there are chinks in their armor. If their opponents are able to capitalize on that, we could have some interesting matches lined up.