Cricket powerhouse Australia will bid to win a seventh Women’s World Cup at the global tournament in New Zealand after suffering a shock loss in the 2017 semifinals.
Australia's women have barely put a foot wrong since India knocked them out of the last four in 2017, beating world champion England at the recent Ashes and thrashing the Indians for the T20 World Cup title two years ago on home soil. But the disappointment of their failed title defence in the 50-overs tournament in England five years ago still lingers as players ready for the tournament starting on Friday.
“We know the heartbreak of not putting every single bit of effort into everything you do and the consequences of that,” Australia coach Matthew Mott said from the team’s camp in Christchurch.
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“We have used (2017) a lot (as motivation) but I don’t think we need to use it for this tournament. We’ve been really consistent since that tournament but this is just another opportunity for the team to take it to another level.”
Australia kicks off against four-time champion England in Hamilton on Saturday, looking to make an immediate statement against its traditional rival.
Beaumont key to England’s chances
England will again be led by 2017 World Cup-winning skipper Heather Knight and boast a raft of players who shared in that success, including player of the tournament Tammy Beaumont. Beaumont has amassed more than 1,000 ODI runs since 2019, averaging 48.13 with the bat, and will be key to England's chances in New Zealand.
England was routed by Australia 3-0 in the deciding ODI leg of the multi-format Ashes but Knight said it had moved on from the disappointment.
“Australia are going to go in as favourites, but (2017) should give us a lot of experience of what it takes to be successful in these events,” Knight said last week.
“Sometimes it's just about getting over the line, and I think that's what we did so well in 2017.”
Twice runner-up India will be led by 39-year-old captain Mithali Raj, who will become the first player to feature in six editions. India's preparations for the eight-team tournament have been far from ideal, losing a five-match ODI series 4-1 to host New Zealand in the lead up.
Talismanic all-rounder Harmanpreet Kaur has struggled for form but found some in the last ODI, scoring 63 in Queenstown to help India finish the series on a high note.
New Zealand will hope to emulate the team that claimed the country's sole World Cup title in 2000 with a four-run victory over Australia in the final in Christchurch. It will have to do it with little crowd support at least initially, with venues capped at 10 percent capacity due to COVID-19, though the caps may ease as the tournament progresses.
New Zealand opens the tournament on Friday against West Indies in Mount Maunganui. Bangladesh will play in the tournament for the first time, having qualified through their ODI ranking, along with Pakistan and West Indies, after a qualifying tournament scheduled for late-2021 in Zimbabwe was called off due to COVID-19.