As the ICC World T20 is around the corner, former England captain Claire Taylor wrote down her thoughts for ICC (International Cricket Council).
"The whole cricket world is eagerly awaiting the next showdown between the world’s best women’s teams - the 2018 ICC Women’s World T20. The finest players from around the world will congregate in the West Indies for what promises to be a great platform for women’s cricket."
Having cherished the memories of last year's World Cup, she shared, "Think back to the summer of 2017 and the ICC Women’s World Cup in England. I was there to witness Anya Shrubsole’s burst of wickets to break Indian hearts in the final at Lord’s. I also saw England beat Australia in Bristol; a wonderful game going down to the very last ball. More centuries, more sixes, more TV coverage and many more fans engaging with a wonderful world cricket competition."
"Whilst the Windies did not feature in the latter stages of the 50-over competition, they are current champions in the shorter format, lifting the ICC Women’s World T20 trophy in Eden Gardens, Kolkata, in April 2016. They beat a strongly fancied Australian side who had posted a competitive 148 for five after winning the toss. Mathews and Taylor put on 120 for the first wicket and the Windies women won comfortably, starting the Caribbean party with their male counterparts winning the men’s competition later that day," she expressed while remembering Windies' winning moment in the last edition of the World T20.
This tournament will give the chance to every team to leave their mark. "These tournaments have showcased the very best of women’s cricket; whilst Australia, England, India and New Zealand have dominated in the past, the likes of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Ireland now have their chance to shine on the world stage," she added.
She wrote, "England, having enjoyed success in the longer format, will be hoping to prove their mettle in the shorter game: the way that Captain Heather Knight marshals the power of Danni Wyatt and Tammy Beaumont, the all-round skills of Nat Sciver and Katherine Brunt and exciting new talent of Sophie Ecclestone will be key to England’s chances in this tournament."
Not only England, but the other teams are equally capable of winning this tournament. "Australia, trophy-less for the first time in a long time, are always in the hunt in these competitions: Lanning and Perry will look to lead their team back to world domination. South Africa and India will be hoping to put the nearly of last year’s 50-over tournament behind them and the likes of Sri Lanka with the hard-hitting Chamari Athapaththu could cause upsets."
"The Windies have match winners in Stafanie Taylor, Deandra Dottin and Hayley Matthews who will be looking to prove that their win in 2016 wasn’t a one-off. They and their Board have done much to grow the women’s game in the region and this competition will provide further impetus to their efforts."
Claire Taylor hopes this time it will not be the same event like before. "This tournament is different from previous competitions. The 2016 tournament in India featured a significant amount of travelling around the country and a wide variety of pitches, from fast-paced to slow, low turners. In November, each team will play their group matches at one venue, in either Guyana or St Lucia, before the semi-finals and finally move to Antigua. This should help hone tactics and produce higher scoring fixtures."
"Previous competitions have been played parallel to, some might say in the shadow of, the men, taking advantage of shared promotion and ticketing. This women’s tournament is standalone and will have to build on the brilliant work done by the International Cricket Council and the England and Wales Cricket Board in marketing the 2017 World Cup."
"I hope that there is a great support for the teams in the round-robin which is rewarded, as in England, by some hard-fought, close group games. I also hope that the pitches are fast and true, that batters get value for their shots but that bowlers with control of their variations are rewarded."
This year's World T20 is going to be the first-ever stand-alone tournament where DRS (Decision Review System) will be available. "Captains will have the opportunity to call on the Decision Review System for the first time in T20 World Cup history; a tactic which could change the course of a game."
Women's cricket has changed rapidly within a couple of years. Taylor has shared her views on that too. "Women’s cricket has changed significantly since I played in the first ICC Women’s World T20 in 2009. The majority of international players are now professional, travelling around the world to play in domestic T20 competitions, working on their game 24x7 with high-quality coaches bringing in learnings from the men’s game and beyond."
"The Women’s Big Bash in Australia and ECB Super League in England have provided opportunities to train and compete under pressure and we’re seeing the benefits of that in the performances in international competitions."
"With these opportunities come greater expectations and there can only be one winner. The stakes will be high for all nations, and I can’t wait to see which team and which players will grasp their chances to make their mark on the international scene in the way that I enjoyed in 2009," she further added.