Rachael Haynes playing a shot for the Australian cricket team. Photo: Bahnfrend (commons.wikimedia.org)

We, collectively, have decided to watch women play a sport

What are Women? What is Cricket? What do these two entities have in common? I make the case for Women's Cricket.

Humans Australiansis (commonly known as Australians to the rest of us non-biologists) are a peculiar genre of Humans. Prior to hoarding toilet paper to combat a respiratory virus, they were widely known for hunting tarantulas and barebacking alligators. However, on this International Women’s Day, Australians contributed to the Women’s (another genre of Humans. Prominent examples include Margaret Thatcher and Cardi B) advancement in a way that has never been even dreamed of. They collectively decided to watch women play a sport.

I am talking, obviously, about the Women’s Cricket World Cup. The first question in this part of the world I usually get is, “What are you even on about?” And that’s fair. Norway is not into Cricket. I’ve been told Norway is into skiing. And if I am being honest, I don’t consider skiing to be all that. If going downhill rapidly is a sport, I reckon I’d easily fucking crush it. But I digress. 

I am not here to make a case for Cricket (however much I wish I could). In other parts of the world, Cricket is kind of a big deal. Like most other sports, it has traditionally been played by men. Modern Cricket has challenged that. And nowhere was this on full display than on this International Women’s Day. Australia played India at the Finals for the Women’s T20 International Cricket World Cup (T20 might be a confusing term, but trust me, it’s not too relevant to the story). That in and of itself does not seem like it’s a big thing. After all, women’s basketball games happen all the time, and if we are all being honest with ourselves, do we care? But this was different. The Final was watched by a live audience of 86,174. For comparison, the most recent version of El Clasico had a live audience of 78,357. 

The tournament started on Feb 21, with the first group stage game also being India Vs Australia. This edition of the world cup saw 10 nations entering the tournament. The top two teams from each group advanced to the Semi-Finals. Here is how the table looked at the end of the group stages. I’ve chosen to write about events that unfolded from the semi-finals and onwards. 

Group A

Team

Played Won Lost Tied No Result Points
India 4 4 0 0 0 8
Australia 4 3 1 0 0 6
New Zealand 4 2 2 0 0 4
Sri Lanka 4 1 3 0 0 2
Bangladesh 4 0 4 0 0 0

Group B

Team Played Won Lost Tied No Result Points
South Africa 4 3 0 0 1 7
England 4 3 1 0 0 6
West Indies 4 1 2 0 1 3
Pakistan 4 1 2 0 1 3
Thailand 4 0 3 0 1

1

Semifinal 1: “It’s all very English isn’t it, talking about the weather and getting knocked out”- Heather Knight, England Captain

Now consider for a moment, there exists an organisation more incompetent and moronic than FIFA. I give you, The International Cricket Council (ICC). India vs England was washed out due to rain, and there were no reserve days for a replay. Not that this has happened for the first time. It happened multiple times in this tournament alone. ICC is like the run of the mill senator caught in yet another sex scandal. They’d rather get caught with pants down and offer half-hearted apologies without putting in any fucking effort. I hate the English Cricket teams with the entirety of my heart, and even I did not want them to go out like this.

Semifinal 2: Laura Wolvaardt almost saves South-Africa.

I’ve lived through Australia winning 3 back to back cricket World Cups. At this point, any mention of Australia triggers a minor traumatic response. And because they are Australia, they obviously qualified for the finals. With no remorse whatsoever, they crushed my heart. South Africa almost grasped a victory, but fell short of 5 runs. Australia might have won the game, but it was Laura Wolvaardt’s (South Africa) elegant performance that received plaudits. And also Laura, if you read this somehow, marry me?

The Final: Australia take on India at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). I slip back into depression.

India went into the final hoping to recreate their win over Australia in the group stages. Australia went into the game hoping to tip me over into the abyss. India stumbled spectacularly. A team that marched into the finals comfortably saw themselves underperforming in almost every department. Shefali Verma (16 year old), the highest run scorer in the team dropped an important catch (missed a vital chance), and fell in the first over (again, missed an important chance). India never really were in the game. An 86000-strong crowd watched Australia reclaim the World Cup, having previously won it in 2012.

The tournament itself showed women’s sport can be immensely successful (read profitable), provided we invest in the players. A women’s domestic league is hugely popular in Australia. This win only cements their status as great sportspeople. India plans to invest more in and expand access to women’s cricket (Cricket is not even the national sport, but I can’t imagine why anyone would want to watch hockey). Likewise other cricketing nations have seen the absolute need to replicate their individual success in the men’s format. As Women’s cricket braces itself for bigger things, perhaps it’s time other nations start watching this sport?

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