Two countries from among the West Indies, one an island and one on the South American mainland, hosted the group stages of the ICC Women’s World T20 2018, providing conditions that were as different as the nations themselves.
The Guyana National Stadium in Georgetown was a high-scoring venue, despite much talk of low and slow wickets. Rain was a big threat at the Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium in Gros Islet, Saint Lucia. But the venue then proved a swing bowler’s paradise, providing for absorbing –if somewhat low scoring- cricket matches.
The common thread was that both groups saw performances that showcased the incredible development of the women’s game, further proof that the tournament deserved its own spotlight as a stand-alone event. Let’s look back at some of them:
There a few batters in world cricket who can unite audiences like Harmanpreet Kaur; when she gets going, you want her to keep batting even if she’s making runs against your team. Known as a big-match player, Harmanpreet chose the perfect occasion –the first game of the tournament— to score her highest score in T20Is, with an astounding 103 off 51 balls. Harmanpreet has hit a total of 12 sixes so far, the highest by any player in this ICC Women’s World T20, eight of which came in that century.
Dottin the Destroyer
Deandra Dottin may be the first woman to have two T20I hundreds to her name, but it was her bowling that made an impact in the home team’s first game of the tournament. After the Windies were bowled out for just 106/8 against Bangladesh, Dottin’s pace and swing was too much for Bangladesh to handle. She took five for five in her four overs, the best ever bowling figures in ICC Women’s World T20, and is currently the leading wicket-taker in the tournament with nine scalps.
Wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy has been busy in front of the stumps: she has won three Player of the Match awards in the three games she batted in, scoring 48, 56 not out and 53, and is the tournament’s third highest run getter. Her first half-century came off just 21 balls, a tournament record, and threatened the fastest T20I fifty ever by three balls. The Australia opener has batted with frightening consistency over the last few months, having scored six fifties in her last eight innings. After suffering a mild concussion in her last group game, her team will hope that she recovers in time for their semi-final against the hosts on Thursday (22 November).
After starring in the final of the ICC Women’s World Cup last year, Anya Shrubsole claimed only the second ever hat-trick in an ICC Women’s World T20 when she blanked out South Africa’s tail to finish with three for 11. Shrubsole prospered in the swing friendly conditions in Gros Islet, and followed up with a haul of three for 10 against the defending champions in England’s last group game. With that, she became the joint-highest wicket-taker in the tournament’s history, with 33 wickets in 21 games.
Sea of Sixes
As Sophie Devine launched one into the stands on her way to a record-equaling fifty against Ireland, the tally of sixes for the tournament moved past the previous record of 57. Sixty-five sixes have been hit so far, with the tournament living up to its top billing, with three games yet to come. With boundaries at both venues at the maximum of 65 yards (with the exception of rain affected games in Saint Lucia), it is a testament to the improved skill and fitness levels across all teams.
The Guyana National Stadium saw crowds of more than 3000 on the last day, with many staying long after the cricket had ended on ‘De Party Mound’. But the Daren Sammy Stadium in Saint Lucia stole the show, with the locals turning up in droves to support the home team. The last two games the Windies played saw more than 11,000 people pass through the turnstiles, packing the venue and creating an atmosphere rivaled by few venues in the world.
“I cannot remember the last time the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground was packed like this,” said the man himself, Daren Sammy. “This goes way beyond just this tournament. It will send a strong message to all the young girls in Saint Lucia, that if you aspire to play cricket for the West Indies, you can excel.”
“This was a success for the next generation,” he added.
The action now moves to the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground in Antigua and Barbuda on Thursday (22 November), where the defending champions Windies will face Australia in the first semi-final at 16h00 local time and then India will take on England at 20h00. And if the tournament so far is anything to go by, one can expect entertaining cricket on the field, and a riveting atmosphere off it, perhaps even better than Saint Lucia.
As Sammy said: “Now we go to Antigua, and they have to match this.”
(The article was first published on icc-cricket.com)