OPINION – The Best Women’s Cricket Team In History Are Killing It… Literally!

Are Australia’s women’s cricket team the best sports team in history? The question comes to mind because lesser questions are rapidly becoming exhausted by their success. They haven’t lost an ODI for getting on for 3 years now; and during that period they’ve won the Women’s Ashes twice and the T20 World Cup twice. There is little doubt that they are the best women’s cricket team in history; and well on their way to becoming the best cricket team, full stop.

Jarrod Kimber has done a brilliant job summing up why, as he asks the question: ‘Will the Australian women ever lose an ODI?‘  The answer of course is yes, for exactly the reasons Kimber states – someone will eventually produce the performance of a lifetime against them, as Harmanpreet did at Derby in 2017 to knock them out of a World Cup they’d probably have won if they’d reached the final. (Let’s face it, they wouldn’t have mentally disintegrated and thrown away a near-certain victory the way India did at Lords that day.)

But that’s what it will take to beat them these days, at least in the less unpredictable ODI format – as Kimber concludes in his penultimate sentence: “Right now [Australia] aren’t just dominating cricket, they’re almost destroying it.”

I’d go a bit further even: this team are figuratively “killing it”.

But I worry there is a problem: they are also literally “killing it”.

Economic historians describe a problem called the “Tragedy of the Commons“, where a shared collective resource is ultimately destroyed by everyone acting in their individual, rational self-interest.

What we have in macrocosm, is perhaps most neatly described in microcosm with reference to the last Women’s Ashes Test at Taunton. Meg Lanning refused the opportunity to go for a win, because Australia only needed a draw, and going for the win would also have given England an opportunity to win. This was a totally rational decision in the context of the series, but it severely damaged the long-term credibility and viability of Women’s Tests, as the match ground itself out into a mindless bore-draw.

Australia’s recent series versus New Zealand was obviously not a draw, but it was a bore, because there was no contest. New Zealand were never even at the races – we all knew what was going to happen before a ball was bowled, and by the 3rd ODI New Zealand were so thoroughly demoralised they couldn’t even reach 3 figures on a pitch where the Aussies had made over 300.

This is obviously because Meg Lanning and her Australia team are just doing their job – exactly as they were in the Women’s Ashes. None of this is their “fault”; nor is it Cricket Australia’s. Putting in place a world-beating infrastructure, and winning cricket matches off the back of it, is what they are paid to do. But the consequence of this – the “tragedy of the commons – is that this is killing the game for everyone else, and fans – eventually even Australian ones – will start to respond by tuning out and turning off.

Is there a solution? I’m not sure there is. Tim Wigmore has floated the idea of a tax-and-redistribute system, where the ICC fund women’s central contracts across the globe; but even if this was a political starter, the problem with it is that it while it might level everyone up to where England currently are, it doesn’t bring anyone any closer to Australia, who will just pull further ahead as a result.

Kim Garth’s recent defection to Australia to play domestic cricket there, rather than international cricket for Ireland, is potentially where we end up here: with the world’s best players going to Australia full-time, while international cricket slips quietly into irrelevance. At some point Australia effectively stand back, maybe by fielding an Under-19s team at World Cups, leaving international cricket in the same sort of place as international baseball – a part-time, recreational pursuit, while the world’s best players ply their trade professionally in the WBBL “World Series”.

Maybe that would be a good thing; maybe it wouldn’t.

But if we don’t ask ourselves the question now, it’s where we are going to end up regardless.

9 thoughts on “OPINION – The Best Women’s Cricket Team In History Are Killing It… Literally!

  1. Syd, you make a dreadful statement that Australia would have won the 2017 World Cup if it wasn’t for one extraordinarily inning in the semi final. You also had previously made the same statement on Twitter.
    You love to court the Australian press and players to the detriment of our own and this statement shows a total lack of respect for that England team.
    In the 2017 World England beat Australia at Bristol without any one standout performance. They were the best team in that summer and beat every team in the tournament in order to win that World Cup. Shame on you for wanting to downplay what was an incredible achievement by a group of girls who were written off by many before the tournament and definitely after losing their first game. They also had to manage the huge public expectation which comes from a home World Cup in what was seen as such a watershed moment for women’s cricket.
    England, after their 2017 World Cup win for the record also drew the next ashes in Australia and even in the 2019 could have easily have won the first 2 ODIs before been hammered in the final match at Canterbury.
    Australia are an outstanding team and yes they have also kicked on again but don’t try to re write history please.

    Like

  2. A few of us are old enough to remember when the Australian men ruled the ODI world and were putting out an A team that could beat most comers. The game expanded and the playing field levelled for the top sides at least.

    Since 2017 this has felt like the scenario for the women’s game that the WBBL took the Australian game away from the field. Yes the WBBL gives a few other international players a challenge but outside of that I’m unsure what will level the playing field outside Australia and bring genuine competition.

    A defeat of the Australian team by England or any other team feels like a one-off. Will the 100 be of an WBBL standard? Will it help England scale up quickly and maybe other international players not just the Australian stars that the franchise’s will court heavily, if available?

    Like

    • Simple answer is “no”, the 100 will not. Firstly a shorter format in which the rest of the globe has no interest (although some overseas players will no doubt appreciate the cash) can’t develop new players which is one thing England and others around the world need. More 50-over cricket might, Hence the success of the RHF trophy in throwing up some possible new names this year in spite of all the difficulties. The other principle pre-requisite is a suitable domestic structure. Many countries suffer the same problem – and so we’re back to RHF being a success. So much is dependent on cash – and women’s cricket may have more than ever before (in a few countries anyway) but is it yet enough if Australia are not to dominate to the point of boredom.

      Like

  3. I think a situation like this is never quite as pronounced in hindsight as it looks at the time.
    if I can bring comparison to a couple of other women’s sports, in hockey (which I also follow closely), you have a Dutch team which is always at semi final final stage and usually wins, especially in the last decade. If they do lose, it’s an ‘out of their skin’s’ performance, like by GB in the 2016 Olympic final. Sure there’s probably a bit more top-end competition than in cricket, Australia are usually thereabouts in hockey (and have had their own Golden Era late 80s-early 00s), Argentina are always in the running and have had success, Germany are usually strong. But these countries are all pushing hard to claw back the gap.
    In Netball, a few years ago, people here were saying we (Aus) would never be beaten, yet we’ve recently lost tournaments – to England in the Commonwealth Games final, to NZ in the last World Cup.
    Australia in netball, and in cricket, will always be in the top 2-3 countries, quite often as the numero uno, but they won’t always be as dominant as they are in cricket right now.
    We do have a few generational-type players – Perry, Healy, Lanning – who elevate a strong team to a near unbeatable one. But that won’t always be the case. Perry is becoming increasingly injury prone, Lanning has had her shoulder issues, those injuries always reappear at some point, Healy and Starc may decide to start producing future Australian cricketers?
    But we won’t always have so many players at this level. Looking at the WBBL and the domestic ODI comp, I don;t see the same quality coming through ATM. Batting-wise most of the other stats leaders tend to be players of a similar vintage to the current international team, people like Nicole Bolton for instance. Will Annabel Sutherland become Perry class? Who knows, will Litchfield match Lanning? Maybe? Maybe not?
    The point is, like when our men’s team appeared totally dominant, it’s a few absolute greats that elevate a strong team to this level. But in men’s cricket, 5 or 6 years after people were saying Australia vs Australia A was the best competition we had, our team was back to number 4 in the rankings post McGrath, Warne, Ponting and Gilchrist.
    Oh, and it is up to other countries to do their bit and try to match the leaders, not just wait for them to come back to their level or artificially handicap them by wealth redistribution schemes and the like. I could handle propping up the game in the West Indies for instance, but in no way should Australia be propping up India or England for instance.
    One thing we could do is slightly expand the WBBL to include 2 NZ teams, getting more of their domestic players involved, plus a couple more from other countries

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree Chris. In a sense it may be less of a case of other countries catching up to Australia (although hopefully they will improve over time) but more of a case of Australia eventually losing their once-in-a-generation players like Perry and Lanning to retirement, and that in itself enabling other teams to match what they have left more often. Although Australia have plenty of very good players to fill their roles, form what I’ve seen they are not miles above England/India’s levels, and I’m not sure they will produce quite with the consistency that those 2 greats have to win matches from losing positions.

      Like

  4. I just wanted to support what Walter said. To say on Twitter and on here, England only won the World Cup because of one extraordinary inning that knocked out Australia was terrible and wrong. Wrong for all the reasons Walter gave.

    Like

  5. Syd has expressed an opinion that he thinks Australia would have beaten England if Australia had managed to beat India in their semi-final. It’s called an opinion. In this case a hypothetical opinion that cannot be proved either correct or incorrect. It’s an opinion.

    It’s not an anti-England opinion.

    It merely expresses a belief that, if Australia had reached the final, against England, Syd believes Australia would have won it. That’s all it says. No more.

    It does not express the opinion that England didn’t deserve to win. It doesn’t express the opinion that England were unworthy winners. It doesn’t criticise England.

    Indirectly, by expressing the view that Australia should have won the World Cup (because based on recent form they were the favourites), the fact they didn’t and England did, makes England’s victory more meritorious.

    As for Australia (the main theme of the article) : well they might be killing it in terms of bi-lateral matches but they certainly know how to promote women’s cricket and what’s they’ve done for women’s cricket in Australia is simply incredible. It’s the gold standard (or perhaps green and gold standard) that all other countries need to learn from.

    Like

  6. The first and third ODI between Australia and the White Ferns were as one-sided as Syd suggests, but at one point in the second game it looked as though NZ might post a total of 280+ which might have been enough to challenge Australia even given our weak bowling attack. It didn’t happen, but the possibility beckoned for a while.

    That said, the White Ferns almost never beat Australia in ODIs, least of all in Australia. So a 3-0 series sweep by Australia, although disappointing, isn’t out of the ordinary.

    Like

Have Your Say...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.