The 2020 Women’s World T20 is a showpiece event for women’s cricket this year. Considering the buzz around the event, it is expected to be a game-changer for women’s cricket as was seen in the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup in England. In fact, Melbourne is doing all that it can to ensure record-breaking attendance for the finals to be held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on 8th March, which is also International Women’s Day.
Along with the veterans of the game, there will be a handful of players who will be playing in this tournament for the first time ever in their lives. They will have butterflies in their stomach as they look at soaking in these moments and truly strive towards making a mark in their international careers. Although many of them would have played a T20I before, the enormity of the occasion will definitely make them elated and pumped but also terribly anxious at the same time.
With T20 leagues now taking place for women more frequently, there is a growing talent pool in women’s cricket. Many have performed at exceptional levels to stake a claim in their respective international teams. Although there are many players who will be playing their first major ICC tournament in their lives, a few have already caught the eye and can even define the tournament in the days to come. In this article, we take a look at some of them.
Shafali Verma (India)
No player has announced herself with so much impact as India’s very own Shafali Verma. Just over 16 years old, she was the player that caught the attention when she played in the Women’s T20 Challenge last year. Playing for Velocity, she played some glorious shots to score 34 runs off 31 balls against Trailblazers. Very similar to Virender Sehwag’s approach to the game, her powerful shots can ensure a quick start for India and can quickly change the momentum of the game in India’s favor.
Her contributions at the top can define India’s fortunes in the tournament – which was demonstrated as recently as the Tri-Nation Trophy as India chased down 174 against Australia, their highest successful change in the format, as Shafali Verma took the pressure of the tall ask off by scoring 49 runs off just 28 deliveries. Until her departure, India had already scored 85 of those runs in just over 8 overs, building a solid foundation for her team. She has displayed this ability time and again. In just her second T20I, against South Africa, she scored a blistering 46 off 33 deliveries to haul India to a match-winning score of 140/4 in just 17 overs. India won that match by 51 runs. She hit two half-centuries on the Indian tour of West Indies. She scored 73 off only 49 deliveries in the first T20I to help India score 185/4 in 20 overs and won the game by 84 runs. In the second, she scored an unbeaten 69 off 35 balls hitting 10 fours and 2 sixes as India chased down the target of 103 in just over 10 overs, winning the match by 10 wickets. With her raw power, aggressive style and range of shots, she can blow away the opposition with a quick cameo and can quickly turn the match around, as she has already done it time and again proving that the innings against Australia wasn’t a fluke but what is to be expected of her. With Shafali in the batting line-up along with experienced players like Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues and Harmanpreet Kaur, Australian women’s coach Matthew Mott rightly admitted that ‘India is the most feared batting line-up’ ahead of the tournament.
Annabel Sutherland (Australia)
Daughter of the former head of Cricket Australia, James Sutherland, Annabel became famous for representing Melbourne Renegades in Big Bash League 2016 at a tender age of 15 years, the youngest player to participate in the Big Bash League at that time.
After representing Melbourne Renegades and Melbourne Stars for one season each, she was awarded a contract with the National Performance Squad prior to the 2019-20 season, representing both Australia Under-19 and Australia A teams. She has impressed many as a potential all-rounder for Australia with her compatriot and one of the greatest all-rounders in the game, Ellyse Perry, claiming that ‘she could be one of the best we’ve ever produced.’ In fact, she went on to explain that she is confident, has a great build, can bowl fast, can swing the ball and can bat well too. Her record in the Big Bash League does indicate that she can bowl well and can also bat if required. She has taken 21 wickets for Melbourne Stars in 31 outings claiming 4 wickets for just 20 runs in on of the matches.
She has also scored 249 runs in those 31 matches (she batted only 24 times out of those) with the highest score of 38. She made her T20I debut for Australia in the recently concluded tri-series against India and England where she showed her class. In her debut against England, she almost guided Australia home with a crucial 11-ball 22 when Australia needed 43 runs from 21 balls. Even before this series, while representing Victoria in the Women’s National Cricket League, she scored 221 runs in 6 matches hitting 2 half-centuries while also picking up 9 wickets at an average of under 20 runs. The World T20 can be a life-changing experience for her as she looks to cement her place in the side and make some important contributions for her side.
Sarah Glenn (England)
England’s talented spinner, Sarah Glenn, rose to prominence in the Women’s Cricket Super League in England. Representing Loughborough Lightning, she has picked up 18 wickets in 21 innings with an average of just over 18 runs. However, she has not got many international T20s under her belt to display her credentials having made her international debut only in the series against Pakistan in Malaysia in December 2019.
She has played 6 T20Is for England picking up 9 wickets with the best figures of 3 wickets for 28 runs against Australia in the recently-concluded tri-series in Australia, where she picked up important wickets of Ashleigh Gardner, Ellyse Perry, and Rachel Haynes. She, along with veteran spinner Sophie Ecclestone, fast bowler Anya Shrubsole and all-rounders Katherine Brunt and Nat Sciver, forms a very formidable bowling attack. If she can contribute in a manner as was seen in the tri-series, it can be an important contribution from England’s point-of-view. This will be Sarah’s first major tournament and she will be eager to leave a lasting impression to make a regular appearance in future T20Is for England as a second spinner.
Freya Davies (England)
Another find of Women’s Cricket Super League in England is the talented fast-bowler Freya Davies. Representing Western Storm, she is the second-highest wicket-taker in the competition picking up 37 wickets in 36 matches at an average of under 25 runs. She has the ability to regularly pick up wickets and has 2 four-wicket hauls to her name, including her best bowling analysis of four wickets for just 18 runs. In the 2019 season of the tournament, she was the pick of the bowlers taking 19 wickets in 11 matches at a staggering average of just over 13 runs.
After being awarded a central contract by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in February 2019, she has been picked for tours to Sri Lanka and India. She made her T20I debut against Sri Lanka in March 2019. However, considering the nature of pitches there, she did not have many opportunities yet as has played only 7 T20Is till date in which she has claimed 7 wickets. She is expected to get more opportunities in the World T20 owing to the bouncy tracks that aid fast-bowling. If she hits the form that she has shown in the Women’s Cricket Super League, she will prove to be quite a handful for her opponents and she may be able to finally claim a spot in the England bowling line-up for the longer term.
Jess Kerr (New Zealand)
Fellow sister to the record-breaking Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr is a medium-fast bowler from Wellington. Although she started playing cricket from an early age, it is during the New Zealand Super Smash 2019-20 that she rose to prominence. Representing Wellington Blaze, she was the leading wicket-taker of the tournament taking 20 wickets at an average of just over 10 eclipsing her sister, Amelia Kerr, who ended the tournament with 18 wickets.
She took two four-wicket hauls with the best figures of 4 wickets for 13 runs. She can also contribute with the bat as she scored a handy 20 runs off just 10 balls in a crucial game against Canterbury Magicians. Her performance earned her a national call for the recently-concluded series against South Africa. She played in 2 T20Is till date in which she took 2 wickets. Her experience in the Super Smash will be handy as she looks forward to developing a foothold in the national side in the future, starting with the World T20. She will be looking forward to making vital contributions for her side throughout the tournament to brighten her chances of playing for the country more often.
The World T20 will also comprise of other exciting debutants who have risen above the others in the fray in their respective domestic competitions. The World T20 will be an ideal platform to build their credibility and claim a place in their national side for future matches. They will experience, for the first time, what it means to play in a global tournament of this scale and will definitely be involved in pressure situations to deal with. However, they will have experienced and seasoned players to learn from and look up to during such times.
We, at Female Cricket, wish all the debutants the very best for this tournament and for their careers ahead.
Stay tuned to Female Cricket for all the updates on the Women’s World T20 starting from February 21st.