Sthalekar acknowledges shift in landscape of women’s cricket

The former Australia cricketer observes women's cricket becoming more popular and appreciated than in previous eras, and looks ahead to a tightly fought Women's World Twenty20.

Lisa Sthalekar   -  Vivek Bendre

After playing cricket at the highest level, Lisa Sthalekar has been tracking the game closely as a television commentator to know the changing scenario in women's cricket. As the women World T20 tournament is being played along side the men's event in the country, Lisa, an Australian cricketer of Indian origin, feels the current edition of the women's event will be the most keenly-fought affair ever.

“It will be the closest that we have ever seen – India [defeated] Australia back home, New Zealand is stronger (it has some powerful hitters), Australia is always strong, England is good and South Africa. My heart says Australia, if [it] gets [its] batting order right and starts [its] early matches well, will be hard to stop. But who [does] it play in the final? It is a toss-up between India, New Zealand, West Indies and South Africa,” Lisa said.

Stand-alone

Lisa said women's cricket needed to walk alongside the men's game to grow further. “The men's World T20 tournament will be once in four years but for women it will be once in two years. The one in 2018 (women's event) will be a stand alone tournament. That will allow the build-up.

“But it is important that every now and again we come back together. I remember when we played the 2010 final in the West Indies we played after the men and the Australian men's team, which had lost to England, stayed in the stands to cheer us. It is very important for the growth of the women's game.”

Lisa said overall the women's game was changing for the good with players starting to earn well. “I recently came from the Women's Big Bash League and they televised more matches. The numbers were really exciting, the media got behind it, people were turning up breaking women's domestic records (for attendance). Somewhere there were 14,000 in attendance. There is a change in the environment and landscape. Are we going on the right path? Yes we are,” she said.