The ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 is officially up and running with all 10 captains excited to showcase their abilities to both Australia and the world.
On Monday morning the Captains of the 10 teams headed to Taronga Zoo in Sydney, providing a vivid setting for the official captain’s media launch. The 2020 edition of the Women’s T20 World Cup is set to be the most closely-fought, with high-level competition and hype.
Through efforts across the globe, a world record of those attending the match for a Women’s Sports Fixture could be set when the final is held on 8 March in Melbourne which coincides with International Women’s Day and Youth pop star Katy Perry performing the iconic song ‘Roar’.
As hosts and defending champions, Australia‘s captain Meg Lanning knows about the expectations more than the most. With the chance to play in the iconic stadium, Meg Lanning is very keen for her team to enjoy and not worry about the experience.
“We’re looking forward to getting started, it’s great that we get to reach out to all our fans across the country and they’ll get the chance to see what will be an amazing tournament,” she said.“We want to enjoy the experience of playing in front of friends and family.
She added.“It’s a once-in-a-career opportunity to play in a home World Cup, there are pressure and expectation in that but every team wants to win, as we do.” said the Australian Captain.
Lanning’s side will face India in their tournament opener on 21 February.
On the other hand, India looking forward to building on the performances which saw them reach the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Final in 2017. Harmanpreet Kaur will take the reins in Australia reflecting on to make the most of the experiences from three years ago.
“Our team is growing day by day, everyone is looking so positive,” she said. “It’s going to be very big if we win, I was very surprised at all the reaction from 2017.” she added “My parents didn’t tell me, they didn’t want us to feel the pressure. If we win, it’s going to be very big for us. We will try to give our best.”
“I just play my natural game, I always took myself as a positive cricketer, playing freely – and that’s all there is to it,” she said.
“We played against Australia last summer, we learned a lot about them and what makes them the best team in the world. She added, “We’re going to try to play positive cricket – our dream is to get into the semi-finals.”
While Atapattu boasts a wealth of captaincy experience, it is the first outing in this role for New Zealand’s Sophie Devine, opponents in their respective first game in Perth. But despite her novice status as a team leader, Devine already knows the approach she wants to take with the White Ferns.
She said, “Captaincy is a huge honor but I’m a player like all the rest of my team, so I’ve got to keep doing my job and performing for my teammates,” she said.
“I know cricket can be a really fickle game – you’ve got to ride the highs and lows of it and if I can stay nice and calm, it makes it even more special.”
Rounding off Group A is Bangladesh, keen to make greater improvements in the past few years which culminated in Salma Khatun’s side beating India in the Asia Cup.
She said: “The Asia Cup was a great experience, but the focus is now on the World Cup. We want to be focusing on New Zealand and Australia. Our U19 side won the World Cup recently and we are looking forward to getting started.”
Group B features two previous Women’s T20 World Cup-winning sides, one of whom is England who is the victor in the inaugural competition in 2009. At that time, Heather Knight wasn’t part of the squad however she led her side to Women’s Cricket World Cup glory in England back in 2017.
Noticing similarities between preparations for that competition and now she said, “We had a great experience in 2017, which was unique in terms of expectation, there’s a lot of momentum in this competition, similar to then. I went for coffee in Sydney and saw Ellyse Perry’s face on the side of three different buses!”
She added, “You want to be tested at a World Cup, finding ways to improve and learn and the tri-series was brilliant for that – we’re now just ready to get going.”
The other former champions are West Indies, who prevailed in 2016 but they missed out in their home tournament two years ago. Australia spoiled the party on that occasion but Stafanie Taylor insists revenge isn’t part of their pre-event psyche in 2020.
“We’re really trying to focus on our own game and playing our best cricket,” she said.“We’ve been playing indoors a lot because of the awful weather so we’re looking forward to getting going.” she said.
Meanwhile, South Africa enter this World Cup as one of the underdogs – a tag that Dane van Niekerk feels suits the Proteas. And with Siya Kolisi leading the men’s rugby team to World Cup glory last year, the skipper doesn’t have far to look for inspiration.
She said requoting great leader Mandela, “Nelson Mandela said that sport can unite a nation and that’s what we as sportspeople do, we try and bring the people together. If we do something special such as Siya, it would be a dream come true and that’s what makes it special.”
Pakistan has similarly failed to reach its full potential in ICC competitions, which is a setback but captain Bismah Maroof believes could change this time around. She feels it is the work that is put together by a team off the field which matters the most.
“It’s important for us to get the right mindset, we’re working on the mental side of our game and so we want to be in a good frame of mind ahead of the first game,” she said. She added, “We are missing big moments in the World Cups, we need to create chances for ourselves, live in the moment and try not to think about the big stage.”
The tenth and final team taking part in Australia is Thailand, which has already made history by qualifying for a global event for the first time. Far from making up the numbers, Sornnarin Tippoch’s side however in positive spirits since the time they have arrived, warming the hearts of those all around the world.
Their challenge lies in bringing cricket to those who are learning about the game back home. She said, “I’m nervous now! We’re really excited to be involved for the first time. We will look to play our best cricket and we’ll show how we play the game.“People back home don’t know me, some people know cricket but it’s not on the television. They will follow us on Instagram and Facebook and will know about our game.”
This article was first published on ICC