The Women’s World T20 concluded in the early hours of Sunday morning with Australia winning the title for the fourth time via a comfortable eight wicket win over England in Antigua.
After the high of last year’s ODI Women’s World Cup in England this tournament had a lot to live up to and despite some magnificent performances with both bat and ball, it did not quite make its mark in the way that previous events have done
Here are five of the biggest takeaways from the competition, which has asked as many questions as it answered.
A gamble that didn’t pay off
This year was the first time the Women’s World T20 was held as a stand-alone event as opposed to being held directly before or alongside the men’s competition.
Aside from making the logistics of hosting major tournaments easier, the previous system allowed the Women’s event to benefit from increased exposure both in terms of media coverage and fans attending the games.
This tournament was a first and although the cricketing public in the West Indies turned out in record numbers according to the ICC, events in the Caribbean failed to gain significant media attention outside of the major nations, and ultimately failed to capitalise on the superb performances shown out on the field.
However, this does not mean that the idea should be scrapped altogether.
One needs only look at the success of the ODI World Cup in England last summer to see how women’s cricket can capture the public’s imagination and perhaps the relative muteness of this event has more to do with the location rather than the event. But organisers will certainly want to take another look at the staging of major tournaments in the women’s game.
A few continue to dominate the many
It was of no major surprise to anyone that the final was contested by Australia and England; the two most consistent sides in women’s cricket across all formats winning all but two of the ICC Women’s tournaments held to date.
Despite both losing during the group stages — Australia to New Zealand and England to the West Indies — there was little doubt that the two finalists did not deserve to be there.
There were some standout performance from other teams, with Pakistan’s Javeria Khan and New Zealand’s Leigh Kasperek both making it into the ICC’s team of the tournament for their efforts with the bat and ball respectively, but the rest of the team was made up of three English players, two Australians, three Indians, and one from the West Indies.
What this shows is that success for less developed nations in women’s cricket appears to be in isolated events, rather than a regular occurrence.
While the West Indies may continue to punch above their weight from a financial and resources point of view and India and New Zealand show considerable promise, the silverware seems to be heading to the same trophy cabinets time after time.
England’s future looks bright
This competition saw the emergence of some new stars of English cricket, as well as the development of some current players.
England keeper Amy Jones — standing in for Sarah Taylor — performed strongly behind the stumps and acted as a more than able replacement, gaining a place in the team of the tournament for her efforts.
Sophia Dunkley — who made her debut in England’s opening game against Bangladesh — showed potential with the bat, scoring a well made 35 against the West Indies. Although her opportunity was limited, the Surrey player will certainly remain in the thoughts of England’s selectors.
England’s biggest success was undoubtedly the discovery of left-arm spinner Kirstie Gordon, another debutant, who was also named in the team of the tournament for her eight wickets taken at an average of just over 12, with an economy rate of just 5.15.
The 21-year-old showed that she was more than capable of mixing it with the world’s best and gave England’s bowling attack an extra dimension with Gordon’s two for 20 against India in the semi-final — including the prize wicket of Indian skipper Harmanpreet Kaur — proving vital.
Australia’s bowling a cut above the rest
Three of the top five wicket takers in the tournament were Australians with the Southern Stars pace duo of Megan Schutt and Ellyse Perry taking 19 wickets between them at an average of 10.5, alongside ten wickets from spinner Ashleigh Gardner.
The variety and depth in the Australian attack was vital, allowing skipper Meg Lanning to consistently go on the attack and look for wickets.
The attacking spin option provided by Gardner was indispensable, giving Australia the rarity of a spinner who keeps things tight while consistently looking threatening, which allowed Perry and Schutt to bowl with the freedom and aggression that brought them their wickets.
Women’s cricket has found some superstars
One of the things that has helped hasten the rise in popularity of women’s cricket is the rise of superstars in the sport.
Just as the likes of Virat Kohli and Chris Gayle transcend the sport in the men’s game, the same is rapidly becoming true in the women’s game.
The likes of Indian skipper Kaur and West Indies all-rounder Deandra Dottin — the tournament’s second highest run scorer and joint highest wicket taker respectively — are icons among cricket fans in their respective countries.
Their consistently strong performances in this tournament and going forward are vital to ensure the development of women’s cricket around the world.
Featured photograph/Randy Brooks/AFP/Getty Images