Friday, 30 June 2017

A deep intake of breath...

It has been a hectic few days, following the start of the Women's World Cup last Saturday. I have had trips to Taunton and Bristol and seen the Aussies win both of their games - one against a West Indies side that looked devoid of any energy, cohesion or game plan, and the second against a team who should have had no chance, but were inspired by a stunning innings by Chamari Atapattu.

We are eight games into this tournament now, and have a couple of days to catch our breath, before all the teams take to the field again on Sunday. I'd like to be the first to say that this will be "a pivotal day" in the tournament. In truth it will be one of many pivotal days. There are certainly some intriguing match-ups - England play Atapattu, sorry, Sri Lanka; South Africa play West Indies; India play Pakistan and Australia play New Zealand. But once these games are done we will still only be 12 games into a 28 game league programme. There will still be plenty of time for a few more twists and turns.

There have already been seven centuries in the tournament, all of them very classy, from some of the top batsmen in the women's game - Atapattu, Lanning, Sciver, Bolton, Bates, Mandhana and Knight. Top class batsmen take advantage of good pitches and just one white Kookaburra ball, which has barely deviated off the straight for any of the seamers, and, with a small seam, has spun very little. As the tournament goes on things may get harder for the batsmen as they play on more used pitches. For the time being they are enjoying the conditions and teams are racking up scores which would have been unthinkable five years ago.

Australia look to have the strongest batting line up with their top five all having got runs already, but their bowling looks innocuous with part-timers, Elyse Villani and Nicole Bolton, being thrown the ball, almost on the basis that no-one will have done any research on them, so they might get away with a few overs. The Aussies back themselves to chase down any target they are set, but against better bowling attacks than they have faced so far, and better fielding sides than the Windies and Sri Lanka, they will find it more of a challenge. Sunday's game with New Zealand could set a benchmark, but I'm not quite sure for who?

India have been the surprise package so far, defeating England in their opening game and following up with a decisive victory over West Indies, who have presumably already cancelled any hotel booking they may have had for semi-final week. India should beat Pakistan comfortably on Sunday, and then Sri Lanka the following Wednesday, which will give them four out of four and a great chance of making the semi-finals.

New Zealand will be disappointed that their game with South Africa was washed out. It would have been a much sterner test than their win over Sri Lanka, and it means they come into Sunday's clash with the Aussies rather cold.

England picked themselves up well after the India defeat. The encouraging thing about that game is that they had a chance to win it with ten overs to go, chasing a mammoth 282 target. Indeed they will be annoyed that they did not get over the line. Their demolition of Pakistan was brutal, but professional. They need to do the same to Sri Lanka on Sunday.

South Africa very nearly slipped up against Pakistan, which could have ended their tournament before it had even begun, but a win over the Windies on Sunday looks likely, which will make England's game against South Africa the following Wednesday a must-win for both teams.

It has been a great competition to date, despite the lack of mainstream press coverage and the awkward streaming coverage, which is sometimes behind a required Sky Sport subscription.

Along with Syd, Raf and Snehal we will continue to try and provide full coverage of every game in the WWC17 on the WWC17 Blog.


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