Dominant England eyeing a Twenty20 spectacle
By common consent and the overwhelming weight of results, England are the best women's cricket team in the world. They are holders of the 50-over World Cup and have won 23 of their past 25 Twenty20 matches, one of which was a no-result, the other a defeat by West Indies in the last match of a series in which they already led 4-0.
Such statistics ensure that they will begin as heavy favourites to defeat Australia in the third Women's World T20 final today, which will be staged before the men's final. If any side are capable of overturning the odds, Australia are – but they may well have had the stuffing knocked out of them in a group match in Galle last week. England were chasing 147 to win and after 10 overs had reached 55 for 2. They prevailed by seven wickets with 11 balls left.
"The girls were relaxed this morning, which was a good sign," said England's veteran captain, Charlotte Edwards. "Our intention is to keep things as simple as possible. We all know it's a World Cup final. The 2010 tournament was disappointing for us but I'm very proud of the way we have come back this time."
Although the advent of Twenty20 has transformed women's cricket, it is important for their game at large that today's final is both close and of high quality. There have been too many one-sided contests in the tournament so far and too many mistakes.
The women's game does not, and never will have, the power and force of the men's game. But it has an undoubted skill and charm of its own, based on batsmen working the angles, bowlers being much more wily and accurate, and increased athleticism in the field.
"The game is unrecognisable from the game I started playing nearly 17 years ago," said Edwards. "I am very proud of where the game has come to now, the fielding, the power, the bowling is faster and hopefully that will be on show in this final.
"We are very lucky we have got the two best teams in the tournament in the final. We want to put on a spectacle for the women's game, which is really important when we have these double-headers."
England have been pioneers in promoting cricket for girls, largely through the Chance To Shine programme. In 2012, more than 160,000 girls have received cricket coaching, 14,000 of them from the seven England players who are CTS ambassadors.
Being able to concentrate on playing cricket instead of holding down jobs outside the game has been instrumental in England's progress. Australia, too, are backing the game to the hilt, and now it needs other countries to keep up.
In the 23-year-old Sarah Taylor England have certainly the best wicketkeeper the women's game has seen and probably the best batsman, with eight 50s in 33 T20 innings. It would be appropriate if her gifts adorned the game today.
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