CAPE TOWN – The ICC Women’s World Cup has grown exponentially since its inception in 1973 – two years prior to the inaugural men’s event – with the winner’s prize-money skyrocketing to $2 million from $200 000 four years ago in India.
However, it is not just the cash on offer that has improved, but also the quality of cricket and star players across all the teams on display.
We profile the big names to look out for over the coming weeks in England.
Meg Lanning – Australia
ODIs: 57. Runs: 2671. Highest Score 135*. Average: 52.37. Hundreds: 10. Fifties: 10
Any cricketer dubbed ‘The Megastar’ comes with seriously street cred. And that’s exactly the respect Lanning has in the world of women’s cricket. The World’s No 1 batter in the ICC ODI rankings table, Lanning has a well-earned reputation for putting opposition attacks to the sword. At only 25 years old, she is already the first woman in ODI history to register 10 centuries.
Her strengths are the ability to hit even the good balls for four, while maintaining a straight bat without resorting to agricultural slog-sweeps. Lanning has the extra responsibility of leading Australia’s defence of their World Cup title in this tournament, which could have an impact on her batting.
However, for Lanning it is all about following the processes and the result will take care of itself. “You’re motivated to do as well as you can, it might be a different challenge to what you’ve had before and you want to deliver as well as you can in that,” she says.
“I’m in good form, I enjoy scoring runs, but it’s important to take that forward into the competition. I don’t look at averages much; it’s more about winning games and batting in the top order gives me the chance to bat for a long time. Scoring 80s and hundreds is what you need to be doing.”
Marizanne Kapp – South Africa
ODIs: 78. Wickets: 75. Best Bowling: 4/21. Ave: 25.86. Runs: 1489. HS 102*. Ave: 28.63. Hundreds: 1. Fifties: 6
Like their men counterparts at the ICC Champions Trophy, the Proteas women’s team enter their World Cup with the leading ODI bowler in the format. And they will hope Kapp has a better tournament than Kagiso Rabada, who claimed just one wicket in three matches.
Kapp is a genuine all-rounder who contributes with the bat along with her seam bowling. In fact, her performance in both disciplines over the next few weeks will have a huge bearing on the Proteas’ progression at the World Cup.
The Port Elizabeth star has good memories of the last World Cup in India, especially SA’s first opponents tomorrow, after stroking her maiden ODI century against Pakistan in Cuttack back in 2013.
Her new-ball partnership with the “fastest bowler in the world” Shabnim Ismail should be one of the main features of this tournament.
Ellyse Perry – Australia
ODIs: 83. Wickets: 113. BB: 5/19. Ave: 24.35. Runs: 1899. HS 95*. Ave: 47.47. Hundreds: 0. Fifties: 18
Arguably the most recognisable player of the women’s circuit, Perry is a blockbusting cricketer with both bat and ball. Initially, the spearhead of the Australian attack when she debuted as a 17-year-old, Perry’s batting has grown into her stronger suit with her contributions in the middle-order crucial to the team’s overall game plan.
After a frustrating summer punctuated by a series of injuries, Perry is fit to take on the world again and will be looking to get that maiden ODI century over the coming weeks.
This could be on the cards with Perry looking to expand her game. “There’s a few things I can introduce, in terms of the shots I play, the selection of shots to balls and where I hit it, and at the same time just being conscious of it as well and learning exactly where and when is the right time to put the foot down and up the scoring rate,” Perry says.
A genuine competitor, Perry showed her character in Australia’s last World Cup final in India when in spite of being injured finished with the incredible figures of 3/19.
Amy Satterthwaite – New Zealand
ODIs: 83. Runs: 2970. HS 137*. Ave: 47.47. Hundreds: 6. Fifties: 15. Wickets: 41. BB: 4/13. Ave: 27.58
Like most batters, Satterthwaite has thrived in the latter stages of her career using her all her experience and knowledge gained over a 10-year international career. The past couple of years, though, have been particularly fruitful for the 30-year-old, with the southpaw having scored 853 runs in 15 ODIs at an average of 85.30 in 2016.
She raised the bar even further in 2017 with a women’s world record of four centuries in a row (137 not out v Pakistan; 115 not out v Pakistan; 123 v Pakistan and 102 not out v Australia) with all coming at strike-rate in excess of a 100.
Jhulan Goswami – India
ODIs: 155. Wickets: 185. BB: 6/21. Ave: 21.70
Along with batting stalwart Mithali Raj, Goswami forms the heart and soul of Indian women’s cricket. The lanky pace bowler has been one of the foremost pioneers in ensuring the women’s game has earned its rightful place as part of the subcontinent country’s cricket obsession.
Now 34 – she debuted in 2002 when still a teenager – this, along with Raj, is likely to be her last crack at World Cup glory and what a fitting triumph it would be for one of the game’s premier players to exit with a winner’s medal.
An expressive character, Goswami leaves everything out of the field and will look to spur on her younger teammates with her passion-filled performances. The right-arm seamer’s 185 wickets places her right at the top of the most scalps in ODI history.
Stafanie Taylor – West Indies
ODIs: 98. Runs: 3732. HS 171. Ave: 44.42. Hundreds: 5. Fifties: 4. Wickets: 114. BB 4/17. Ave: 18.77
The Windies are sweating over the fitness of their captain Taylor who is suffering from an ankle injury that kept her out of the warm-up defeat to South Africa in mid-week. Taylor is an integral part of the Indies side, having led them to ICC World T20 glory last year in India.
She is also the leading ODI all-rounder on the ICC’s official table and will be expected to lead from the front with both bat and ball. In true Caribbean style, she is an explosive batter that hits the ball hard upfront, especially in the power play overs.
Deepti Sharma (19) – India
The new poster girl of Indian cricket, Sharma shot to prominence with a blistering 160-ball 188 in a recent ODI against Ireland in South Africa. It formed part of a world record partnership of 320 runs with Punam Raut.
Suné Luus (21) – South Africa
The leading ODI wicket-taker in the world in 2016 ODIs with 37 scalps in 22 matches, Luus is expected to have a big impact over the coming weeks. A classic leg-spinner, she was recently named Player of the Tournament at the Women’s World Cup Qualifiers in Sri Lanka.
Amelia Kerr (16) – New Zealand
Another leg-spinner, Kerr will be missing high school to play in this World Cup. She’s already impressed in the seven ODIs she played to date, with best figures of 4/54 against the world champion Australians.