England women setting standard in brave new era
Captain Edwards eyes total domination as they attempt to regain World Twenty20 crown
There is only one unbeaten team left in the World Twenty20 tournament. England women have taken all before them so far and are hotly tipped to win the semi-final today, the final on Sunday and dominate the game for years to come.
New Zealand will be no pushovers in the curtain-raiser before the match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan and indeed looked pretty invincible themselves four years ago. But England have transformed the pecking order and have won the last six T20 matches between the sides.
"We're going in with confidence but also mindful of the fact they've still got some good players," said England's captain, Charlotte Edwards.
"Three or four years ago you wouldn't have wanted to play them but I think we have got better rather than them going backwards."
Women's cricket has been transformed in the past decade with the determination of the England and Wales Cricket Board that girls will be introduced to the sport as early as boys. England won the World Twenty20 at home in 2009 and although they were deposed as champions the following year, the form book is heavily in their favour.
The worry for the sport is that England might become too powerful in the future. But first things first as Edwards insisted yesterday. "The introduction of Twenty20 has made a huge difference to us," she said. "It is really the way we will play the game in future. I don't want to see the other formats disappear but it's Twenty20 that has given us so many opportunities."
The idea of a women's match being played before a men's match has caught on around the world. Both the women's semi-finals and final in this tournament will be staged before the men's versions and in England there is a commitment to the structure. "It's what we play for, it has changed things for us," said Edwards.
There is still a touch of scepticism about women's cricket but it a different game even from the one Edwards started in as an international 15 years ago. The power is lacking but they are fitter, more athletic and more skilful. Edwards, England's leading run scorer in one-day and Twenty20, said: "The game has developed in a way I wouldn't have thought possible. I've had to evolve to keep up and some of the skills you see now from some of the young girls are fantastic.
"It's a different game from the men, we don't have the power but we work out ways to use 360 degrees of the pitch, working out angles, and how to restrict opposition batters. When people watch they understand."
England showed they meant business in the third group match against Australia when they were 55 for 2 after 10 overs chasing 147 to win, before being led home in the 19th over by star batsman Sarah Taylor. With performances like that, England could still make a mark on this competition on Sunday.
England women (probable): CM Edwards (capt), LA Marsh, SJ Taylor (wkt), A Brindle, DN Wyatt, CS Greenway, JL Gunn, A Shrubsole, D Hazell, KH Brunt, HL Colvin
New Zealand women (probable): SW Bates (capt), AE Satterthwaite, SFM Devine, FL Mackay, SJ McGlashan, KJ Martin (wkt), KT Perkins, EM Bermingham, SEA Ruck, MJG Nielsen, NJ Browne
TV Sky Sports 1, 9:30am-1.30pm.
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