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Women's cricket in 2019


Womens_Cricket_2019Women’s cricket has constantly made headlines and grown in attention since the 2017 ODI World Cup.

The women’s game again produced some fascinating games in a year where there was no dearth of record-breaking feats and awe-inspiring (team and individual) performances. All of this has not only raised the bar for an often-neglected version of the sport, but set new precedents for the rising talents from around the globe.

2019 was a year where the big-three, Australia, England and India, provided an exhibition of thrilling cricket in the limited overs formats. There were some hits and misses, but never any shortage of excitement, for the likes of West Indies, Sri Lanka and the Proteas women’s teams.

But which performances made 2019 another unforgettable year for the women’s game?

Sophie Devine’s WBBL form

A burly all-rounder from the White Ferns, Sophie Devine’s rich WBBL form became major cricketing headlines world-over as the Kiwi right-hander carved 769 runs and clinched 19 wickets at an envious T20I economy of just over 6.

On most occasions, it seemed all it took Devine to send the ball over the ropes was a minute twitch of the muscles.

To star in the Big Bash League is one thing but to emerge on top of several Australian cricketers, who form the core of the WBBL, is something special.

A smiling assassin, someone who draws power from playing an uncomplicated and disciplined brand of cricket, Sophie Devine was ruthless with the bat all throughout the WBBL 2019 for the Adelaide Strikers and watchful with the white ball.

Women’s IPL

The one of a kind Women’s IPL formed a memorable chapter in the inspirational women’s cricket journey. 3 teams, 4 games and 1 victor. Several cricketing behemoths of the modern age, including Megan Schutt, Stafanie Taylor, Suzie Bates, Alyssa Healy, joined hands with Indian stars- Mithali Raj, Harmanpreet Kaur, Jhulan Goswami, and Smriti Mandhana. The women’s tournament was coloured with passion and power in a format that excites as much as it thrills.

The spectacular Meg Lanning

Australian skipper Meg Lanning produced an incredible effort with the bat in the limited overs run of the Women’s Ashes in early 2019. Lanning scored a breathtaking 133 runs from just 63 balls in the opening T20I against England, guiding Australia to a whopping 226 for 3 at Chelmsford.

A knock full of flat sixes and carefully executed boundaries in square and leg, the Australian skipper, among the most exciting names in the game and a giant of the modern era, looked the part of a fired-up batswoman in the process of firing 17 fours and 7 sixes.

Lanning’s destruction of England took Australia to their highest-ever T20I total, a feat later matched in October when the visiting Sri Lankans collided with Alyssa Healy Down Under.

Smriti Mandhana’s ODI and T20I form

It brought wide-eyed smiles and offered far-reaching comfort to see Smriti Mandhana, among the most dangerous hitters of the cricket ball in the contemporary structure of the game, to feature in ICC’s ODI and T20I 2019 teams of the year.

Mandhana was at her fiery best, having risen to worldwide attention in 2017 for her World Cup exploits. The left hander slammed a brilliant fourth ODI hundred in New Zealand in an away series victory for India and followed it up with an unbeaten 90 soon after.

Later, Mandhana would greet England, a team perhaps as dangerous as the daunting Aussies, with two quickfire fifties, scoring 60s in two of the three ODIs.

Next up, as the team visited the Caribbean, Mandhana was at her usual belligerent best in the T20Is as the Windies women were smashed in their own backyard.   

Alyssa Healy’s T20I record

Few batswomen hit as hard and far as Australia’s wicketkeeping-batswoman Alyssa Healy.

She demonstrated just that in October when the Sri Lankan women came calling Down Under, perhaps never suspecting a thing about the carnage that was to follow.

Healy, seeming in murderous touch, notched up 148 off just 61 balls: the highest individual T20I score in the entirety of the women’s game.

Firing 7 sixes and 19 boundaries with ease, Healy punished nearly every short ball, was severe against loose deliveries and anything that offered width. In the process of stunning all at the Sydney Oval, Alyssa Healy also broke her captain and contemporary Lanning’s record 133, set only a few months earlier in England.

The rise of Shafali Verma

Sachin Tendulkar was only a teenager when he debuted for India. When Shafali Verma featured in a T20I at Gujarat against the Proteas Women, she became the youngest-ever Indian cricketer to feature in an international contest.

15-year-old Verma is the current sensation of the Indian women’s team, an outfit that already boasts of some big names.

But make no mistake! Verma isn’t just any young talent. Apart from plundering 158 runs, including 2 fifties from just 5 T20Is in the Caribbean, her very first overseas assignment for India, Verma recently made headlines for her impressive century against Australia A.

At the Allan Border Field in Brisbane, Verma’s 78-ball-124, an innings laced with a flurry of boundaries saw India beat Australia A in Australia.

With age on her side, one can’t wait to see her promise manifesting into true match-winning potential in the international arena in the coming days.

The Proteas women making most of a challenging year

Masabata Klaas’ brilliant hat-trick in the second ODI against Pakistan (in South Africa) allowed her side to draw level with the tourists, having been humiliated in the maiden contest where they were bundled out for 63. Dane van Niekerk’s maiden ODI ton, a 102 against Sri Lanka in the first ODI of the 3-match series, paved the way for the Proteas to whitewash the hosts. Lizelle Lee’s punishing blade carved runs in the T20I format all around the year. South Africa made the most of a year where there weren’t too many joys.

In a year where much of their fiery ensemble of talents–Chloe Tryon, Niekerk and Kapp–were found missing in action, the lowest point for the Proteas women was their tour to India, a series where they failed to win a single ODI and could only win a solitary, consolatory T20I. They lost 3 games as 2 were rained out.

Even so, the bludgeoning blade of opener Lizelle Lee, among the hardest strikers of the ball in the women’s game, produced an innings of unforgiving power that provided some respite.

Lee’s charismatic, freewheeling 84 at the top of the order came off just 47 deliveries in the final T20I of the series at Surat.

The knock featured 15 hits to the fence and 1 six. It helped South Africa end the run of consecutive defeats and also condemned India to a 105-run loss, their biggest-ever margin of defeat in the format.

Lee also fired lots of runs earlier against Pakistan, smashing 3 half centuries from 5 T20Is back in South Africa.  

A year of highs and lows for English cricket

English speedster Katherine Brunt, among the most menacing figures in the white-ball format, became the first and thus far only English seamer to capture 150 ODI wickets. She achieved the feat in the first of the three match series against Pakistan.

Brunt has been the go-to pacer for the Heather Knight-led side. She burst onto the scene nearly 15 years ago and has taken 41 Test, 150 ODI and 76 T20I wickets in the sport. She is recognized as an influential figure in the women’s game for her experience and ability to produce magic on the field.

But there were some lows too, as England Cricket’s Sarah Taylor, a wicketkeeping batswoman par excellence, and among the most inspirational cricketers in the game, hung up her boots for good. She decorated the sport with nearly 6,500 international runs, 7 hundreds and 232 dismissals.

Taylor’s long struggle with anxiety issues had been hurting her confidence and mental health. Therefore, the talent, whose agility behind the stumps sparked worldwide acclaim, took the difficult but right call to end her career.

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