The good news? It was more or less a success. The semi-finals, finals, and the Bronze medal match all went down to the wire. Unlike the rumored T10 format for the Olympics, it was nice to see that T20 did the job fairly well. The best of all – crowds were in!
Hosting a world wide tournament in England is one thing…in a non-Test cricket playing nation…that may be a different challenge altogether.
India, Australia, England, and New Zealand qualified for the semi-finals. With the exception of a NZ team (which was on a downfall earlier), this was not exactly was a surprise.
Sri Lanka were bowled out for 46 & 102, Barbados bundled out for 62 & 64, and Pakistan all out for 99. On the flip side, Australia chased 155 out of nowhere, and the big teams had 11 scores combined between 150-170.
3. Australia are Invincible
In the opening match of the tournament, Renuka Singh’s four wicket haul were struggling at 49/5, courtesy Renuka Singh’s 49/5.
Then, I tweeted this – a seemingly arrogant headline by ESPNCricinfo, already gifting the gold medal to Australia
And guess what? Ash Gardner scored an unbeaten 52*(35) to take Australia home with Grace Harris and Alana King providing strong support.
It seems that Gold is reserved for this Australian team. This team is invincible – ODI World Cup, T20 World Cup, record streak of ODI wins, and now the Commonwealth Gold Medal.
This team is so strong that Ellyse Perry, yes the Ellyse Perry, sat on the sideline all tournament.
4. India lose out on nerves again, but is lack of WIPL the only reason?
India lost the final against Australia by 9 runs, the same margin they had lost in the 2017 ODI World Cup final. And in a similar fashion as well.
Chasing 162, India had recovered to a steady 118/2 in 14.2 overs. The young star, Jemimah Rodrigues and senior captain-slash-arch-nemesis, Harmanpreet Kaur were playing. Rodrigues was dismissed for 33 and Kaur followed soon with 65. Some baffling decisions with Yastika Bhatia, a regular #3 being sent at #9 & three run outs ensured India fell 9 run short, with 3 balls still to spare.
Social media went haywire with India’s inability to finish and ‘lack of mental strength’ accusations galore. Lots of pointers that the Women’s IPL has already been delayed 2-3 years too long and that resulted in not enough pressure situation practice.
That is partially true but a WIPL wouldn’t magically have done anything. Results and increased depth from WIPL will probably be seen in a decade from now at the earliest. This loss could be attributed to nerves in a final (regardless of the team), an Australian team one level above, and error in judgment by the set batters.
5. Early retirements a concern in women’s cricket too
Trent Boult’s semi-unofficial-retirement (in fashion of AB De Villiers), Ben Stokes’ ODI retirement, and Quinton de Kock’s Test retirement are not the only signs of cricket’s changing landscape.
Lizelle Lee (30) & Deandre Dottin (31) both announced shock retirements from international cricket. Although the reasons were different, it shows growing dissent between the players and respective boards.
Today’s Scenario: Mithali Raj Lifts the 2017 Cricket World Cup
In our segment Just Imagine, we explore how a specific moment in cricket could have lasting ripple effects. Going back in time, we ask a simple question: What Would Happened if…? and reflect on its consequences.
Since the Women T20 Challenge is in full flow among the teams—Trailblazers, Velocity, and the Supernovas, we imagine what would have happened if India had not collapsed against England in the 2017 Cricket World Cup Final?
The 2017 Cricket World Cup was a watershed moment in several ways for women’s cricket. It was widely broadcasted and viewed, the matches were highly competitive, several remarkable individual performances were on show, and to cap it off—an intense final.
The hosts were favorite to win the trophy, while India captured the imagination of the world during the tournament.
In the group stages, India had won 5/7 games while brushing Australia aside in the semi-finals thanks to Harmanpreet Kaur’s magnificent 171*—maybe the best world cup innings by an Indian in a semi-final, certainly in the last decade. On the other hand, England squeaked past the Proteas with 2 balls to spare. Their only defeat in the tournament coming at the hand of India via Smriti Mandana’s elegant 90.
The final was a classic low-scoring thriller. Ebbs and flows throughout.
England scored 228/7. In response, Mandana and Raj fell cheaply before Punam Raut and Kaur stabilized and registered 50s.
Chasing 229, India are sitting comfortably at 191-3.
38 needed off 44 balls. Punam Raut 86* (114), Veda Krishnamurthy 28* (28). Then, next ball, there is an appeal for LBW…
What Actually Happened:
42. 5 Shrubsole to Raut OUT:
Punam has asked for a review but the umpire says sorry, you took too long.Do England have wink of an opportunity? This was the wrong shot. Length ball sliding in from wide of the crease, Punam plays all around the delivery. Looked to work it square when he could’ve played in down the ground. Hit on the knee roll. That would’ve gone on to hit the stumps. Has she done enough though?
If Punam Raut had straight batted the shot, or if the DRS review was called in time, and the decision (magically) overturned, what would have happened?
Punam Raut hits an unbeaten century in the final. Veda seals the deal with an exquisite six.
Jhulam Goswami, the star with 3 wickets on the final, and captain Mithali Raj retire as World Cup winners. The 2017 squad return as legends. Their stories now etched in stone along with the 1983 and 2011.
The BCCI want to capitalize as usual.
They have a template—2007 T20 World Cup and the 2008 IPL. Upon the Indian men’s victory, the experiment of IPL turned into an unprecedented success, changing the global cricket game forever.
They have an opportunity again.
The Women’s IPL launches in 2018. All the world cup heroes are in their prime. Raj captains the Chennai Super Kings, Harmanpreet the marquee player for Kings XI Punjab, and Mandhana starring for the Mumbai Indians. With foreign players such as Heather Knight, Nat Sciver, and the world’s greatest Ellyse Perry, the WIPL is a financial and global success.
This T20 experience gained helps Indian women win the 2020 T20 World Cup defeating Australia in their background in front of a 86,174 crowd at the MCG.
Reflection – Inaction Trumps Imagination
Well, things did not turn out that way, did it?
Winning and losing is part and parcel of the game. Yes, one moment can change histories, but sometimes if action is taken in the right time, it could pay dividends as well.
India’s performance had already delighted audiences around the world and Goswami-Mithali-Harmanpreet-Mandana were household names.
Why then, has the WIPL not been put into action?
It did not need to be an 8 team tournament. A 5-6 team tournament would be wonderful as well. In 3 years, teams would have stabilized, rivalries and fanbase would have fostered, and ultimately, women’s cricket would have benefitted.
Instead, we are watching the 3rd T20 Women’s challenge as an afterthought of a 56 match exhausting Men’s IPL, just taking a break before the Playoffs. Meanwhile, most of the foreign players like Heather Knight, Alyssa Healy, and Ellyse Perry are employing their trade at the WBBL, and we are just waiting for the Hundredfor a competitive world T20 women’s league.
With the likes of Shefali Verma, Deepti Sharma, and Jemimah Rodrigues, India’s future is still bright, but by the time WIPL commences, India women’s stars would have already retired.