Cape Town - The Proteas’ first-ever appearance in an ICC Women’s T20 World Cup final may not have had its storybook ending, but it was indeed a special occasion at Newlands.
Here are five take-aways from the memorable match:
Australia are simply the best women’s cricket team - if not among the greatest across all sporting codes - at the moment. They are blessed with skill in every department, and experience that brings the mental strength along with it. They continue to elevate the women’s game at every opportunity, whether it's with bat, ball or in the field.
Laura the Great
The Proteas have a genuine superstar in Laura Wolvaardt. It’s simply absurd that Wolvaardt was not picked up in the recent WIPL auction. Her stroke-making is of the highest order and her innings in Sunday’s final will rank among the very best the storied ground has witnessed, especially due to the rank of the occasion.
Shabnim Ismail may be 34 years old, but she seems to only be getting better with age. Gone are the wild days of her youth, and we are now watching a true professional at the very height of her craft. Ismail delivered the fastest ball of the World Cup in the semi-final, and on Sunday she became the leading wicket-taker in T20 World Cup history when she was on a hat-trick in the final over.
Ash Gardner stands and delivers!— ICC (@ICC) February 26, 2023
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Visit https://t.co/8TpUHbQikC to own iconic moments from the #T20WorldCup. pic.twitter.com/I7jnHilJAZ
Australia have an abundance of superstars, and they all play the game with an element of flair and bravado such as Alyssa Healy, Ash Gardener and Ellyse Perry. But none are more effective than Beth Mooney at the top of the order. The classy left-hander quietly goes about her business, and just possesses the big match temperament to produce those match-winning innings when the pressure is at its most intense.
Even the players were sceptical about how many people would come out and watch the women play cricket. “We were hoping it wasn't going to be too embarrassing with empty stadiums,” Proteas captain Sune Luus admitted. But South Africa’s cricket-loving public turned up in their numbers at all three venues in Gqeberha, Paarl and particularly Cape Town. The “Sold Out” signs ahead of the final at Newlands was a massive statement that women’s cricket was now being taken serious in South Africa, and the Newlands faithful showed they were no fair weather fans as they remained in the stands long after the final was completed to give the Luus and her team a standing ovation regardless of the defeat.