Women's cricket realising growth ahead of T20 World Cup

The captains of England, Australia and India are hoping to #FillTheMCG on 8 March. Pic: ICC

The worldwide flourishing of the women’s game has never found more fertile ground than the current structure of T20I cricket.

The upcoming ICC Women’s T20 World Cup will showcase the shortest format of the sport to a global audience as 10 countries fight for the big prize in Australia. 

But nourishing its growth is the simple fact that T20I status is afforded to all 105 ICC Members - a unique and special development in the evolution of women’s cricket. 

In short, every T20I game matters. 

The ICC made the decision to extend T20I status in October 2018 in recognition of the potential of T20 to promote, develop and grow the game far beyond the 10 teams set to tussle Down Under. 

Wins against higher-ranked nations are weighted to incentivise upsets, while home and away victories are equally rewarded to ensure a level playing field. 

The ambition is that countries share their progress in the MRF Tyres ICC Women’s T20I Player Rankings with government and other bodies to advance the cause of the game in their nation. 

The already-strong bedrock of T20I cricket has been bolstered, particularly in Asia, as Thailand prepare to make their historic bow at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020. 

International tournaments like the Thailand T20 Smash, held in Bangkok in June 2019, and the East Asia Cup have seen Hong Kong, Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal exposed to a world-class standard of cricket. 

Such preparation no doubt helped Thailand perform in the pressure-cooker of the World T20 Qualifier, where they swept through with a perfect group stage record and qualified for the Big Dance alongside Bangladesh. 

August’s Euro-Asia Quadrangular Series pitted Thailand against Scotland, Ireland and Netherlands and brought continents together to play unfamiliar opponents in challenging conditions. 

Indeed, no country in the rankings system have played more matches than Thailand’s 41, proving that practice makes perfect when it comes to T20I cricket. 

African sides are also making good ground in the rankings, with Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya all breaking into the top 20. 

Four-time ICC T20 World Cup winners Australia are out on top in the rankings, closely pursued by England, New Zealand and India amongst others.

The back-and-forth of bilateral series between leading countries underpins T20I cricket and there have been a slew of significant battles since the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2018.

Matthew Mott’s side underlined their status as the dominant force in the format with a 2-1 win over England last summer, which saw Meg Lanning break the record for the highest individual T20I innings with 133 at Chelmsford. 

Whatever form of the game, you never quite know what to expect from Pakistan and they have played their part in plenty of see-saw series.

They beat Bangladesh 3-0 in October 2019 by slender margins of 14, 15 and 28 runs respectively and drew a five-match contest with South Africa 2-2 in May. 

A Super Over success in the second match was all that separated West Indies and Pakistan in their subcontinent series in February 2019, which Windies snatched 2-1. 

The star-studded batting line-ups of New Zealand and South Africa continue to drive par totals north, while many a side has suffered at the hands of India’s bowling battery. 

So when the eyes of the world are trained on the MCG for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup final on 8 March, they will be watching a format that has come of age.