Despite being overshadowed by the global COVID-19 pandemic, Australia coach Matthew Mott believes that the legacy of winning the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup – the fifth time in history – at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 8 will stay for long. The hosts defeated India, who were playing their maiden final, by 85 runs to lift the trophy in front of 86,174 fans only a fortnight ago.
It was the highest attendance for a standalone women’s sporting event in Australia and came just days before the health crisis saw the suspension of all the sporting activities around the world. Australia’s limited-overs tour of South Africa was one of them.
“I think we’re all shocked and it’s a little bit surreal at times,” Mott told journalists via a teleconference on Tuesday (March 24). “From a community perspective, we’re feeling for a lot of people who are a lot less fortunate than us. We were incredibly lucky. We thought we were lucky getting through the semi-final with the weather the way it was.”
“We feel very fortunate, we were incredibly lucky to get through that and it could have been so different if it as a week later. Hopefully, for a lot of people it’s a lasting memory of live sport for a little while,” the coach added. Australia’s next international series is not scheduled until October, with contracted players now preparing to enter a six-week leave period.
The current uncertainty means the players’ off-season activities will be up in the air while there are no new updates for England’s new ‘The Hundred’ competition, in which Mott and a host of Australian players will feature.
It is definitely not the type of preparation any team would have wanted going into the 50-over World Cup in New Zealand due to start next February, but Mott believes both he and the Australian team are in a very comfortable situation compared to other sporting disciplines worldwide.
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“We’ve missed the tour of South Africa but for our team, we’ve got a big off-season ahead and that will have to be very flexible and fluid,” he said.
“I do feel for some of the other sports who are in the midst of starting their seasons and from a cricket perspective, we have been very fortunate. We had one-on-one meetings with every player last week and we feel really connected despite the isolation we’re in.”
As of now, Mott will be reflecting on what was achieved in the mega extravaganza, which saw record attendance in all the stadiums the hosts played on. “I think the legacy will live on,” he said. “I got a call from Andrew Symonds the other day and he said he was just so proud of the team, the images of the players celebrating and dancing with Katy Perry, they will last in the memories of anyone who watched the event for many years to come.”
“So I don’t think it’ll be lost, in the short-term, there are more important things in the eye-line and community health is a huge part of that. But I do think the images and the way we played, the adversity we came up against – the players have become heroes for a whole new audience – male and female. The young boys and girls who will be inspired by that event, I’ve already had so much feedback about that.”
“I was playing backyard cricket with my son the other day and he did a little skip and hop as he came into bowl and he said he was Schutter (Megan Schutt),” said Mott. “For me, that’s magic. It gave me goosebumps at the time and it shows we’re not just inspiring young girls, we’re inspiring young boys as well and the next generation will be so much better for that experience we went through.”