The Women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa will be an ideal platform for the youngsters to showcase their skills. Sportstar takes a look at some of the young stars who can set the stage alight.
When Richa Ghosh was picked in the Indian team for the Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia in 2020, she admitted in an interview with Sportstar that she was shocked. At just 16 years of age, she was the surprise package of that Indian team.
Richa wasn’t sure what she exactly wanted to do on a cricket field at that time. She would play as a ’keeper in one match, and in the next, as a bowler (she bowls medium pace). There were instances when she enacted those roles in the same match. Her primary skill, though, is batting.
She is a clean hitter and can turn a match on its head with her huge sixes. Huge crowds saw that during India’s recent T20I series against the mighty Australians in Mumbai. Last year, she had set the record for the fastest fifty in ODIs by an Indian woman, against New Zealand (26 balls) at Queenstown.
At the 2020 T20 World Cup, she had come on to the field as a concussion substitute during India’s defeat in the final to Australia. This time around, she is likely to be one of the automatic choices in the Indian XI.
Charlie Dean tearing up after being run out at the non-striker’s end by Deepti Sharma at Lord’s was one of the most unforgettable images in women’s cricket last year. The incident, quite naturally, sparked off a debate.
The match, Jhulan Goswami’s last of her career, was also another indication that Dean could be one of the stars for the future. She made 47 before drifting too far from the non-striker’s end, giving an opportunity to Deepti to run her out. She had batted with tremendous grit to offer England the hope of pulling off a most unlikely win after being reduced to 65 for seven, chasing 170.
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It is not with bat, though, that Dean has contributed most to England since making her debut in 2021. She excels as an off-spinner. In her maiden international series, against New Zealand, she took 10 wickets from five ODIs to emerge as the joint leading wicket-taker. Going into the World Cup, she has played only five T20Is, but already possesses a four-wicket haul.
Few sights in women’s cricket are as exciting as that of Darcie Brown racing up to the wicket and unleashing her thunderbolts. The Australian is only 19 but is already among the world’s fastest female bowlers. Last October, she bowled the fastest ball ever in the Women’s Big Bash League, for Adelaide Strikers against Melbourne Renegades. She was only 16 when the Strikers signed her up, as she became the youngest, male or female, to get the contract from the club.
Brown repaid their faith with a dream debut, taking three for 13 against Hobart Hurricanes in October, 2020. She got her maiden wicket with a beautiful inswinger that rattled Nicola Carey’s stumps. She went on to take 10 wickets in her first season of the WBBL.
A few months later, she made her T20I debut against New Zealand at Napier. The year, 2021, also saw her playing for Australia in the other two formats as well. The batters around the world have had trouble handling her pace and swing. For the spectators she offers excitement, like she did on Australia’s recent tour of India.
Born in a family of cricketers, Gaby Lewis was destined to play the game at some stage. Still, not many would have expected her to make her international debut at the age of 13. She scored five runs in that match, coming in to bat at No. 7, in Ireland’s 46-run defeat to South Africa at Solihull in 2014.
Since then, she has climbed up the order quite a bit, not just in Ireland’s batting line-up. She now opens the innings and has established herself as one of the most exciting young talents in international women’s cricket. In 2021, she became the first woman from Ireland to score a T20I hundred – against Germany. She was named in the ICC’s team of 2021, not a small feat for someone from a small cricketing nation.
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She has a big heart, too. When a cricket club in the small Irish town of Mullingar – it has a population of little over 20,000 – wanted to form a women’s team, its officials sought the help of Gaby Lewis, one of the brightest stars of the Ireland team. She drove down from Dublin and did a bit of coaching too for the new team. She didn’t even accept the money she spent for petrol.
Fran Jonas was only 16 when she was first called up to the New Zealand women’s squad. She had made her debut for Auckland a year earlier, in 2019, in the domestic one-day tournament. The left-arm spinner had indeed begun to turn heads while she was very young.
Jonas was attracted to cricket after watching her elder brother play; that has been the case with many female cricketers. And it was with boys she played until she was 10; that also is something that happens with many female cricketers. She wanted to try left-arm spin, and luckily for her, the coach at her school, Baradene College, was a practitioner of the art. It proved a turning point, as she honed her skills and forced her way into the Auckland side within three years.
In 2020, she became the youngest female to receive New Zealand Cricket’s development contract. The following year, she made her ODI debut, against England at Christchurch. She has so far appeared in 11 ODIs and 12 T20Is. Her economy of 4.08 in T20Is gives a fair idea of her bowling. Spinners are said to get better with age. Jonas is only 18.