The Aussie Women’s team claimed a record fourth ICC Women’s World T20 title by trouncing a strong England Women’s side in the final of the ICC Women’s World T20 title at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Saturday.
Australia’s comprehensive eight-wicket win over England was played under lights in front of a bustling crowd of more than 10 000 spectators. Bowling first, Australia took wickets regularly to strangle England, before waltzing home with the bat with almost five overs to spare.
Georgia Wareham, 19, starred in the field for Australia, earning herself a hat-trick ball as she dominated the England batters, as well as affecting a direct-hit run-out and taking a catch as she stood out among her teammates, who rather uncharacteristically put in rare sloppy performances in the field. The Aussies dropped five catches, three of them straightforward efforts.
Ashleigh Gardener took home the Player of the Match award, hitting three sixes in the chase to build on a solid bowling effort. It gave Australia their first ICC trophy since 2014.
Winning the toss, England chose to put runs on the board, but could not string a partnership of more than 23 in their innings. Opener Danielle Wyatt was the common thread in four of those partnerships as she put on an enterprising 43 runs off 37 balls (5×4, 1×6), and looked particularly dominant when hitting over mid-off.
Wyatt set the tone for England, taking 11 runs off the first over, but on a pitch that didn’t have the turn of two nights ago, Australia used their fast bowlers to rein things in. The pace bowlers took two wickets in the first seven overs, the second of those giving Ellyse Perry her 100th T20I wicket as she became only the second player to reach that mark.
Perry should have had the wicket earlier, but Alyssa Healy put down an outside edge off the bat of Wyatt, the second of three lives the batter received. Wareham compensated by running out Amy Jones with a direct hit from mid-wicket in the fifth over. The evening saw more such up-and-down fielding from Australia, but a smart catch from Meg Lanning in the 11th over finally saw the back of Wyatt.
Wareham then took over, and after conceding just one run off the bat in her first over, she took two wickets in two balls in her second over (the 13th of the innings), to leave England tottering on 74-6. Despite captain Heather Knight’s rearguard effort in scoring 25 runs off 28 balls (1×4, 1×6), England were bowled out in the last over for an unimpressive 105, with no other batter amassing double figures.
Ashleigh Gardener claimed three for 22, including the wickets of Wyatt and Knight, to record the best figures by a spin bowler in a World T20 final.
Despite the small total, the festive crowd cheered every boundary the Australians hit in reply. They lost the fluent Healy in the Powerplay, but not before she had scored 22 off 20 balls (4×4) of an opening stand of 29 in under five overs. Gardener (33 not out off 26 balls, 1×4, 3×6) and Lanning (28 off 30 balls, 3×4) then finished the job, with Lanning scoring the winning runs off the first ball of the 16th over.
West Indies legend Sir Vivian Richards presented the World T20 trophy to Australia captain Lanning, while Healy took home the Player of the Tournament award for her contribution off 225 runs in the tournament.
The victory enabled Australia to consolidate their top-spot in the MRF Tyres ICC Women’s T20I Team Rankings, while England improved their pre-tournament position of third by overtaking New Zealand to move into second spot.
‘I’m a really bad watcher of cricket on the sidelines, but the girls played beautifully and I’m really proud of this team’s effort,’ said Alyssa Healy after receiving her Player of the Tournament award.
‘I’m enjoying playing with freedom. Our batting line-up enables us to play freely and I knew it would come off eventually. Really enjoying myself and I hope to continue in the Big Bash. We worked hard on the culture in the last 18 months. Win, lose or draw today, we are really proud of this group we’ve got and the way we played.’
‘We probably didn’t have the best day in the field. But we came in prepared and the bowlers did a great job to create so many chances,’ said Australia skipper Meg Lanning.
‘We haven’t had success over the last two years, and the last two World Cups hurt. So we learned a lot and changed a few things. And the group really embraced that. So this is a very satisfying win. The India loss didn’t affect us. A couple of years ago it might have rocked us. But we’ve got a really calm group now.’
‘I thought it was a much better pitch than the semi-finals. Danni Wyatt started brilliantly, but we kept losing wickets. We knew there would be dew, but we wanted to put runs on the board,’ admitted England captain Heather Knight.
‘I’m really proud of the girls for making another world final. Australia were better than us today. But we came in with a lot of inexperience, so some of the girls stepped up brilliantly. Sophie Ecclestone, she’s only been around a year, and Kirstie Gordon was a real find.’
England 105, 19.3 overs (Danielle Wyatt 43, Heather Knight 25; Ashleigh Gardener 3-22, Georgia Wareham 2-11, Megan Schutt 2-13)
Australia 106-2, 15.1 overs (Ashleigh Gardener 33 not out, Meg Lanning 28 not out, Alyssa Healy 22)
Australia won by eight wickets
Player of the Match: Ashleigh Gardener, Australia
Player of the Tournament: Alyssa Healy, Australia
Photo: Harry Trump-IDI/IDI via Getty Images