Women get a chance to shine on the big stage in Australia
More than any of the other major cricket countries, women’s cricket has been sewn into the fabric of the sport in that country.
Ellyse Perry is as well known in Australia as Steve Smith.
The Women’s Big Bash League has become a big event in Australia. It’s very much a league that players from all around the world aspire to be a part of.
South Africa’s captain Dané van Niekerk has featured in the WBBL for the Sydney Sixers, as has Marizanne Kapp, Lizelle Lee, Mignon du Preez, Suné Luus, Laura Wolvaardt, Chloe Tryon and Shabnim Ismail.
Matches are regularly played in front of full stadia and broadcast on TV and on-line and critically highlights packages are available through social media.
All of that has allowed the women’s game to grow rapidly among a younger generation and turned players into household names in that country.
That has allowed the ICC to create a campaign to get 100 000 people to turn up at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for the final on March 8, International Women’s Day.
Were that many people to attend, it would be the largest crowd to watch a women’s sports event.
Of course, that will largely depend on Australia reaching that final - they are the favourites for the tournament - but it is a credit to Cricket Australia that such a figure is even being marketed and is seen as an achievable goal.
Cricket Australia has invested a lot of money into the women’s game in the last decade in particular and the benefits of that investment can be seen in the rise to stardom of someone like Perry - a magnificent all-rounder, competitor and match winner.
South Africa remains some way off of creating something similar here.
Our biggest women’s sports stars tend to come from individual events and need to make an impact on the world stage to garner recognition. Think Caster Semenya or Tatjana Schoenmaker.
There hasn’t been anywhere near enough investment in women’s sport in South Africa.
Companies like Momentum do stand out because of their commitment to the South African women’s cricket team - an investment they took on even before Cricket SA did so.
That they’ve extended their partnership with the SA women’s team is a tribute to them, and the players who have been created as a result of that investment.
South Africa are targeting a spot in the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup - a realistic goal for Van Niekerk and her team.
That will put them one step away from a spot in what will be the largest women’s sports event ever held.
It’s a pretty good goal to aim for.