Hello folks! We hope everyone is still on track with their new year's resolutions. In our last edition of the newsletter, we made a new year wish that this year would bring new hopes and more opportunities for the women’s cricket. Our women’s cricketers will be looking eagerly to emerge from the shadows of the global pandemic into an important phase for the sport that will kick start with the Cricket World Cup scheduled in New Zealand.
Well, it seems like two weeks into the new year, everyone is heading to New Zealand, not for holidays, but to play some cricket. England and Australia will be enjoying the hospitality of New Zealand as they are scheduled to play a limited-overs series in the country starting from late February.
Meanwhile, as we mentioned the last time, cricket did return to India in some form with some domestic players - including 13 India internationals - returning to action in the Falcons Sports Golden Jubilee T20 Tournament. The organisers, headed by former India captain Shantha Rangaswamy, made sure that the tournament was a huge success. Meanwhile, the remaining Indian players would be hoping to get back on the field soon with talks that are in place for the resumption of domestic tournaments.
As we gear up to return to international cricketing action starting with the Pakistan tour of South Africa from January 20, let’s take a look at all the things that happened in the first fortnight of the new year.
The Main Course: Dress Rehearsal for the World Cup
When the ODI World Cup scheduled for 2021 was postponed, there was apprehension whether the matches that were scheduled to be played in New Zealand will be cancelled or rescheduled in light of the pandemic as well as there was no immediate global event to look forward to.
However, those worries were put to rest when the New Zealand Cricket (NZC) and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced that reigning world champions will be touring for a six-match series to New Zealand starting on February 23. Soon, it was the turn of Australia to join the party with the announcement of their series against the Trans-Tasman rivals for an identical one that begins on March 28.
England have gone ahead and announced a strong 16-member squad for the tour with Natasha Farrant making a comeback after two years in place of the injured Anya Shrubsole. Exciting young pacer Issy Wong will also be travelling with the side as part of England’s development plan. Skipper Heather Knight termed the series as an important one in the context of the World Cup next year. All three teams involved will be happy to get some game time as a dress rehearsal for the big event.
Where there is a will, there is a way
The Falcons Sports Club Golden Jubilee T20 Tournament ran its course from January 4 to 12 with a total number of 14 matches played at the Samprasiddhi Sports Estadio, Bengaluru. Eventually, KiNi RR Sports led by Prathyusha C emerged as the winners defeating Divya Gnanananda’s Herons thanks to the heroics of Vanitha VR. Gnanananda had a great tournament finishing as the leading run-scorer with 276 runs from seven matches, while Sheen captain Rakshitha Krishnappa finished as the highest wicket-taker with 13 scalps to her name from the same number of matches.
India internationals Jemimah Rodrigues and Veda Krishnamurthy finished as the second and fourth leading run-getters, but must be disappointed their teams couldn't make it to the final clash of the event. Allrounder Deepti Sharma had a memorable tournament on a personal note scoring 166 runs and taking 10 wickets. Niranjana Nagarajan also was impressive with the ball with eight wickets. But despite the star presence of Rodrigues, Sharma and Nagarajan, Sheen finished at the bottom losing third place play-off to Krishnamurthy's Ameya.
The tournament was an immense success with the players getting much-needed practice ahead of the upcoming cricketing season. They also managed to grab the attention of the cricket starved public, with the live streaming of the event on our YouTube channel garnering more than four lakhs views.
Apart from the live streaming of the matches, we covered the tournament extensively including match wraps, features, analysis, and player interviews with our on-ground reporter Gomesh Shanmugavelayutham heading the coverage.
Good times for Pakistan: Maiden tour for England
As Pakistan were getting ready to get back to cricket with the series against South Africa, they received another great boost with the announcement of England’s decision to tour the country for the first time ever. They will play two T20Is and three ODIs in October this year. The tour will coincide with the men’s series at the same time and the T20Is will be played as double-headers.
A 17-member Pakistan squad headed by Javeria Khan has landed in South Africa to play the six-match series starting on January 20. The last time pakistan visited the Rainbow nation, they put in an impressive performance tying the ODI series 1-1 and valiantly fought before going down 2-3 in the T20I series. Mark Coles, then coach of the side, spoke to S Sudarshanan about how it all panned out as he recalled the tour. Coles gave a fascinating insight into Pakistan's method at the time, how they used to practice mistakes and how it led to the fearless brand of cricket they played.
Speaking of coaches, newly-appointed Pakistan coach David Hemp talked about players taking accountability for their individual games in a chat with Kaushiik Paul ahead of his maiden tour with the Pakistan squad. While their coaching philosophy may vary, Hemp also has lofty ambitions like his predecessor and wants to find consistency in the way they play and improve their rankings. He already has left his impression with young batter Muneeba Ali lauding his efforts to help her evolve her game in a chat with us.
Your Nuggets for the day:
- Sune Luus will lead the 18-member South Africa squad against Pakistan series with regular skipper Dane van Niekerk missing out due to a lower back injury. Allrounder Chloe Tryon is another victim of the back injury as she is also all set to miss the series. Luus had an excellent Women’s T20 Challenge and Women’s Super League T20 and will be in high spirits as she returns to lead the Proteas in their first international event since the T20 World Cup in March 2020.
- On January 7, Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) announced that they will host the inaugural Under-19 Women’s World Cup in December later this year. The tournament was originally scheduled to be played in January 2021. Other details are awaited, we are keeping our eyes wide open for International Cricket Council (ICC) to come up with an announcement.
- New Zealand’s domestic cricket had a historic night when it hosted its first women’s domestic game under lights on January 15. Canterbury Magicians got the better of Northern Spirit in the historic fixture at the Super Smash 2020-21 with veteran Kate Ebrahim scoring her career-best knock of 84. Here’s wishing for more floodlit fixtures for women all over the world. A day before, it was the turn of New Zealand skipper Sophie Devine to enter the history books as she smashed the fastest T20 ton from 36 balls for Wellington Blaze on her return to cricket post Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL)
- West Indies players are undergoing a three-week-long high-performance camp that started on January 10. According to head-coach Courtney Walsh, the board is in talks with Bangladesh and India for a potential series ahead of the World Cup Qualifiers that is scheduled to be played in July this year.
Did You Know?
Deandra Dottin’s 38 ball century was the fastest hundred in T20 cricket before Devine broke it on January 14. Dottin’s hundred was also the first T20 century in international cricket. It came in 2010 while playing in the second T20 World Cup and 62nd T20I match overall. Devine now has six T20 hundreds to her name, the most for any batter pipping her teammate Suzie Bates and Australia opener Alyssa Healy. The hard-hitting allrounder has been having a remarkable run T20s since 2020 scoring four hundreds during the period.
As we already mentioned in the last edition of the newsletter, only 56 T20Is and six ODIs were played in the year 2020. Did you know, the last time England didn’t play a single ODI in a calendar year was in 1994 and for India, it was in 2001. Here, I took a look at the year that wasn't in the context of events and non-events of the year 2020.
Through the lens
Vanitha VR last played for India in 2016 and she was coming back from injury. She was determined to use the tournament to find form ahead of the domestic season and to leverage her comeback to international cricket. She didn't do her hopes any harm when she smashed 77 off 49 in the final of the Falcons T20 Tournament. Here, Gomesh Shanmugavelayutham describes her player of the final performance in detail.
Some Dessert to sign off
- Women’s National Cricket League (WNCL) has been rescheduled for a second time due to border closures in Australia and now the tournament will start on February 28 instead of its originally scheduled start of January 15.
- Bad news for Zimbabwe and Namibia as their series that was scheduled to be played in Namibia from January 22 has been postponed due to pandemic induced lockdown in Zimbabwe.
- On January 5, it was reported that former Pakistan skipper Sana Mir tested positive for COVID-19 during her commentary stint during the final match of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy in Karachi.
- Super Smash 2020-21 continues its run with Wellington Blaze is still leading the points table with 20 points from six matches with Auckland Hearts following them closely with 18 points from the same number of matches. Ebrahim is the leading run-scorer with 186 runs to her name, while Leigh Kasperek with 11 wickets is ruling the wicket charts.
- Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) has planned a women’s league from January 15 and a total of 90 players are divided into six teams and to play matches in both short formats ahead of the domestic season.
- Cricket New South Wales (NSW) has launched its first elite coaching apprentice program aimed at the development of female coaches in keeping pace with the women’s game which increased rapidly in recent times.
- In Nepal, Province Number 1 defeated Armed Police Force (APF) by six runs to lift the Prime Minister Cup on January 3. Province Number 1’s Rubina Chhetri was the player of the final, while Sangita Rai was named the player of the series.
We hope that we have rounded up all that happened in the last two weeks. See you after the South Africa-Pakistan series with more interesting stories. Stay tuned!