Australian women’s cricket captain Meg Lanning looks at the gold cutlery at the Commonwealth Games

Australia already has the T20 and One-Day Women’s World Cup trophies, as well as the Women’s Ashes. Still, Meg Lanning is hungry for more.

The captain of the world number one team will enter uncharted territory on July 29 when she leads her team onto the Edgbaston pitch for the opening match of the Commonwealth Games.

The T20 format makes its debut in Birmingham, as do the women, as the sport returns to the event for the first time since 1998 when a men’s 50+ competition was held in Kuala Lumpur.

Steve Waugh was the top scorer in the 1998 Commonwealth Games final with 90 not eliminated, but it wasn’t enough to stop South Africa.(Getty: Hamish Blair)

Back then, Steve Waugh’s Australian team had to settle for silver after being edged out by South Africa in the final. Twenty-four years later, Lanning hopes to go one step further and win gold.

She is well aware that this could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity considering there is no guarantee that T20 cricket will be included in the next Commonwealth Games in Victoria in 2026.

The International Cricket Council has also been campaigning to get the sport back on the schedule for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, but it is six years away and who knows where it will be by then.

Matthew Mott Meg Lanning
Australia won the Women’s ODI World Cup just four months ago.(Getty: Kai Schwoerer)

“Certainly the goal is to win gold,” Lanning told ABC.

“I remember watching a lot of swimming and hockey at the Commonwealth Games growing up and loving the teamwork of Australian athletes in a variety of sports, but as cricket was never really a part of that I didn’t expect to be.” able to take this opportunity myself.

“As a group we are looking to take advantage of this opportunity because being part of a wider Australian team is new for us, and it may not be something we can do again.”

If the female cricketers reach their potential and reach the final on August 7, Australia could be contending for multiple medals in women’s team sports in one day, with hockey, beach volleyball and netball finals scheduled to take place.

India, the sleeping giant

So who stands in his way?

Shafali Verma T20 World Cup
Striker Shafali Verma will be one to watch out for India.(AAP: Richard Wainwright)

Australia will face India, Barbados (representing the West Indies) and Pakistan in the group stage and although the Aussies are heading as favorites as they have beaten most of the countries competing at the Commonwealth Games on their successful one-day World Cup campaign just four months ago: Lanning says it’s important the team doesn’t become complacent.

“We have a pretty tough group stage that we’re going to have to get through, so it’s not going to be easy by any means,” he said.

“It’s a World Cup-like setup where there’s not much room for error, you have to play good cricket from the start and India will certainly be a prime test.

“The West Indies are also a dangerous team and Pakistan provide a different challenge because they shoot a lot of spin and are skilful so we certainly have to play well from the start.”

Two Australian female cricketers hold up the T20 World Cup trophy as fans go wild behind them.
Australia defeated India by 85 runs in the 2020 T20 Women’s World Cup Final.(AAP: Scott Barbour )

Australia are the reigning T20 world champions, however the unpredictability of the format means nothing is guaranteed.

Even during the team’s exceptional period of dominance in one-day cricket from October 2017 to September 2021, where they set a world-record winning streak by claiming 26 matches in a row, Australia were unable to replicate that kind of back-to-back success at the whitest. short. -ball format.

The T20 ledger was still in their favor during that time, 36 wins, 10 losses, but because they’ve lost a game here and there, other countries will know they’re susceptible in this format.

One particular loss that seems to haunt the Aussies is the opening match of the 2020 T20 Women’s World Cup, where the hosts suffered a 17-run upset against India to start their campaign off on the right foot.

Poonam Yadav celebrates firing Ellyse Perry
Australia will be relieved that Poonam Yadav is not in the main team.(Getty: Cameron Spencer)

Shikha Pandey’s pace (3/14) and Poonam Yadav’s (4/19) leg spin saw Australia lose nine of their batsmen by single digits and although they took revenge in the final and have since beaten India in a number of multiple formats. as of late 2021, the reality check they received that night still lingers in the back of their minds.

Surprisingly, India has since eliminated Pandey, while Yadav was named in the wider squad for the Commonwealth Games, but not in the main squad. Even without these superstars, Lanning believes India is the team to beat.

“We’ve experienced that unpredictability in the T20s over the years, where a player can take the game away from you in a couple of overs,” Lanning said.

“Hopefully it’s us with the gold at the end, but if not, they’ll give him a good challenge.”

Australian players to watch

While England has been experiencing a heatwave, Australia’s preparations in Ireland have been largely disrupted by rain.

Megan Schutt v Ireland T20 International Tri-Series
The Irish weather has not been kind during the International Tri-Series.(Supplied: Oisin Keniry)

Participating in an international T20 Tri-series at Bready, the team remained unbeaten and topped the group with 12 points to win the tournament after beating Ireland twice and having to abandon both of their matches against Pakistan due to wet weather.

Because of this (as well as Australia’s strength chasing totals), the middle order will head into the Games a bit lower, considering the team was only forced to play deeper than their top two or three batsmen in one out of every three tickets.

It also marks a slightly unfortunate pattern for the Aussies when it comes to weather, with four of their seven T20 Internationals scheduled so far in 2022 due to rain.

Fortunately, the bowlers have had enough time to practice.

Alana King interviewed International Tri Series
Alana King has made an immediate impact for the Australian team.(Supplied: Oliver McVeigh)

Fast bowler Megan Schutt became the second Australian to reach the 100 T20I wicket milestone during the series, joining the elite company of Ellyse Perry who currently sits at 115.

While star Alanna King has been thriving in northern hemisphere conditions, grabbing eight strands at an economic rate of 3.83 to be declared the player of the series.

“Alana has been amazing since she made her Ashes debut in January and in this tournament she has been amazing as well,” Lanning said.

“He’s got really good variation and he turns the ball around, but he also attacks the stumps, and that really puts the doubt in the batsman’s mind, so he’s going to play a big part for us at the Commonwealth Games.”

Charging

When given the opportunity to bat, Tahlia McGrath (70) was another standout, forging a 140-run partnership with Lanning (74) in Australia’s second game against Ireland.

It’s the second time the multi-talent has scored a grand total alongside the captain this year and the fourth time she’s claimed the T20I player of the match award.

“Tahlia has become a really important player for us because she has the ability to make the game move, she’s able to push the limits and she’s not afraid to take risks,” Lanning said.

“As a hitter at the other end, that gives you a lot of confidence that you can also continue to play your natural game, so the pressure is taken off.

“Even though she’s been on and off the team over the years, Tahlia truly believes she belongs at this level now and that confidence means she’s playing with freedom.”

Meg Lanning Tahlia McGrath
Lanning and McGrath also formed a 144-run partnership during the 2022 Women’s Ashes.(Supplied: Oisin Keniry)

Commonwealth Games schedule

Friday July 29, 8pm AEST – Australia v India at Edgbaston

Sunday August 1, 3am AEST – Australia vs Barbados at Edgbaston

Wednesday August 3, 8pm AEST – Australia v Pakistan at Edgbaston

Saturday 6th August, 8pm/Sunday 7th August, 3am AEST – Semi Finals at Edgbaston

Sunday 7th August, 7pm AEST: Edgbaston Bronze Medal Match

Monday 8th August, 2am AEST: Gold Medal Match at Edgbaston

Leave a Comment