WWT20 Preview Part I – Group A: England’s Group

The Women’s World T20 is less than a week away now – we are flying out to the West Indies on Thursday, with England’s first match against Sri Lanka coming up on Saturday. The competition is initially divided into two groups of 5, with the winners and runners-up going through to the semi-finals and final. First up, Syd previews England’s group – Group A – and makes some predictions; then check back here later for Raf’s preview of Group B and her predictions.

England

The 50-over world champions have high hopes of adding the other global title to their trophy cabinet, following on from a successful summer where they beat South Africa and New Zealand in both limited-overs formats, setting down a marker at Taunton where they posted a T20 world record 250-3 against South Africa. Coach Mark Robinson surprised everyone by naming 3 debutantes in his squad, and he may well need them as he sweats on the availability of Katherine Brunt, who is fighting to be fit for the start of the group stages. If Brunt is unfit, expect one of those debutantes – Linsey Smith – to be thrown straight into the deep end to open the bowling against Sri Lanka on Saturday. Even without Brunt, however, England will be expected to make the semi-finals, and they will be bitterly disappointed if they don’t go at least one step further too.

South Africa

It has been a mixed 12 months for the Women Proteas since they came within a cats-whisker of making the World Cup final in 2017. They ran-in last in the Tri-Series with England and New Zealand over the summer, and against the West Indies last month, having drawn the ODI series 1-1, they looked to be on-course for a T20 series defeat at 2-0 down with 2 to play. But they dragged themselves back against the Windies, with Lizelle Lee finding some form and Laura Wolvaardt hitting her maiden T20 half century, adding to the impression that, despite a slightly shallow batting lineup, they are a better side than their results over the English summer suggested; especially with Trisha Chetty (who missed the summer and autumn internationals) and Shabnim Ismail (who missed the West Indies tour) both returning to the fold. Will South Africa win the WWT20? Probably not – being thrashed by Pakistan in the warm-ups was not a good omen! But could they still win it if everything falls into place? Absolutely!

West Indies

Although they are the holders, their disastrous World Cup in England last year, including being bowled out for 48 by South Africa, has led many to write the West Indies off for this tournament, despite home advantage. However, they beat England in an unofficial warm-up last week, and their best players – Stafanie Taylor, Deandra Dottin and Anisa Mohammed – are still top, top performers. The star of the 2016 WWT20 final – Hayley Matthews – hasn’t quite lived up to her potential in the intervening 2 years, but she is only 20, so she has time-and-a-half on her side. Their group stage match against South Africa on Wednesday could well be their de facto quarter-final which determines whether they go on in the competition.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka have played 19 T20 internationals in the past 2 years, and have won just 4 of them, and it would be little surprise if they failed to add much to that statistic in the West Indies. They do have one weapon that the other “no hopers” don’t – a genuinely world class player in Chamari Atapattu, who has WBBL and KSL experience on her side – and if she fires they could pull off an upset (singular); but upsets (plural) would be a surprise.

Bangladesh

The highest-ranked of the non-ICC Women’s Championship sides, Bangladesh look like rank outsiders; but then they also looked that way in the Asia Cup earlier this year. In that tournament they shocked India with a 7-wicket win in the group stages, and then went on to repeat the feat in the final, restricting a pretty-much full-strength India to 112, and then making the runs with two off the final ball to celebrate the biggest day in their cricketing history. Since that day they have also won the qualifying tournament in the Netherlands to earn the right to be here, and the news that they are due to be added to the ICC Championship after 2021 will be a further fillip for the up-and-comers, for whom holding their own here will be a victory in and of itself.

Predictions

Group A: England (winners); South Africa (runners up)

Group B: Australia (winners); New Zealand (runners up)

Eventual Winners: Australia

Outside Bet: South Africa

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3 thoughts on “WWT20 Preview Part I – Group A: England’s Group

  1. Difficult to argue with the predictions here, although India and West Indies have it within them to squeeze into the semi-finals, and then, in one-off games, who knows…

    It would be nice to think that in the shortest format there is more chance of upsets somewhere along the line, but realistically that might only extend to Ireland beating Sri Lanka, or Bangladesh beating Pakistan. You just can’t see a minnow toppling a big gun.

    Australia have to be favourites simply on the basis of that batting line-up. You feel that even with England (who are strong second-favourites) there is more that *could* go wrong on a bad day, and less in back-up to recover a poor start. Australia have enough in their best XI to be able to cope with being 40-4 at some stage and still come through. I’m not sure England do. If that were to happen in a group match it wouldn’t necessarily be the end of the world, but in a knock-out game you can’t afford those bad days.

    My big hope is that the tournament “comes off”. Decent pitches allowing the players to perform at their best, good weather, good umpiring, top names playing at their peak, close finishes. With it being stand-alone for the first time, we need the women’s game to make a statement and show its class.

    Enjoy yourselves, Syd and Raf!

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  2. Agree with most of the predictions here although I’d be inclined to go with the West Indies over South Africa for second place. Having watched some of the recent series between the two, both are maddeningly inconsistent, brilliant one day and awful the next (as witnessed by South Africa’s warm defeat to Pakistan).

    For me, England’s chances rely on the fitness of Katherine Brunt. While Sarah Taylor is a big loss, there is enough quality in batting to compensate, I don’t think this is the case with the pace bowling. There is a significant drop off between Brunt and the back up options.

    My predictions.

    Group A: 1st England, 2nd West Indies.
    Group B: 1st Australia, 2nd New Zealand.

    Winners: Australia
    Player of the tournament: Alyssa Healy

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  3. Looking forward for this thing to get underway. The compo has crept up on me a bit! Should be excellent.

    England have certainly been underwhelming in the warm-ups but you never can tell what that means, it might not have too much effect. There is a different intensity once the group stage proper starts. Our bowling certainly has less threat and control now Brunt might be out for most if not all of the comp.

    England need to find a way to beat Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, which should still be very possible if they carry out the basics well. We then need to beat either SA or WI, which should be enough to see us through.

    Ideally we need to avoid playing Aus, as we did in the knock-outs of 2017 WWC. Getting through the group is a minimum bar, after that it depends on who each side is up against. Anything could happen – T20 is a fickle game where a couple of really good or really bad overs can make all the difference.

    I have to say going with NZ to qualify again, after incorrectly predicting that in 2017 with little since to suggest they’ve improved much, is interesting. I think India could pip them to qualification for the semis. Also barring a few Lizelle Lee exhibitions, I can’t see SA finishing above WI either.

    The most likely semi-finalists would seem to be Aus, WI, Eng and Ind. Australia should be winning the thing really, almost at a canter, what with the WBBL being the best T20 national league, and the quality of their players. They could walk away with it.

    But there are still doubts. Their record in T20i bilateral series is not so impressive. I have concerns over their pace bowling and although they remain the masters of the chase, their ability to set a good score then defend it when batting first is less well established. If they do end up winning it, hopefully they’ll have to answer these questions in the process.

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