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WWC Talking Points: Australia wins first World Cup match and King pays tribute to 'the King'

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Expert
5th March, 2022
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The Australian Women’s Cricket team has started its ICC Women’s World Cup campaign with a 12-run victory over the reigning champions, England.

Host nation New Zealand’s loss by three runs to the West Indies on the opening day of the tournament showed that nothing is certain and that countries like the West Indies and Pakistan should not be underestimated.

Despite struggling to take wickets early, Australia will take the victory and look ahead to their next game against Pakistan on Tuesday, whilst England will play the West Indies on Wednesday.

Here are some of the key talking points from today’s match.

The impact of Shane Warne
It has been a terribly dark couple of days for Australian cricket, and the match commenced with a minute’s silence for cricketing legends Rod Marsh and Shane Warne.

The news of Warne’s passing, which would have reached the Aussie women just this morning, would have been particularly shocking given he was only 52 years old.

Tributes have poured in for Warne throughout the day, but I can’t help but reflect on his impact on this Australian Women’s Cricket team.

There are women in this current Australian team who will have grown up with the chance only to idolise male players.

Unlike the next generation coming through who grew up watching the WBBL, the likes of Alyssa Healy, Meg Lanning and Rachael Haynes would have grown up in an era where women’s cricket was almost invisible.

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There’s no doubt that many of the women in this team would have looked up to Warne. Additionally, Warne’s impact transcended just his era; he made spin bowling ‘cool’ again and I wonder whether the likes of Alana King, Jess Jonassen and Amanda-Jade Wellington spent summers in the backyard trying to imitate ‘the King’.

No doubt emotion would have been high today and it was clear that the Aussie women wanted to enjoy their cricket today to celebrate a man who gave so much to the game.

To honour Warne, there was no better performance than that of Alana King who took three wickets including Sophie Dunkley, Tammy Beaumont and Amy Jones.

Following Beaumont’s dismissal, King patted the double black arm bands on her shoulder; no doubt the delivery that dismissed the England batter was for the other King watching on from the sky.

Fellow spinner Jonassen also played a key role, bowling the final over with England needing 16 off six balls. She took a brilliant caught and bowled to dismiss Katherine Brunt and helped to seal the victory for Australia.

Heroic Haynes
Given her age and her comments following the Women’s Ashes that it may have been her last one, it’s no surprise that there is speculation about the future of Rachael Haynes. But following her performances in the Ashes and also today, it’s clear that she still has plenty of cricket left in her.

The 310 runs scored by Australia was the highest total scored against England in a World Cup and much of it was done to a formidable partnership between Haynes and Meg Lanning. Their 196 run stand was Australia’s highest World Cup partnership against a full member nation.

Despite a slow start (and the loss of Alyssa Healy for 28), Haynes went on to score her maiden World Cup century, finishing on 130.

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She was beautifully supported by Lanning who scored 86, assisted by cameos from Beth Mooney (27) and Ellyse Perry (14), and was rightly awarded player of the match for her performance.

The depth in this Australian batting line up is formidable. To amass such a high total without the likes of Tahlia McGrath seeing the crease was impressive.

Australia still also has Ashleigh Gardner to return to the squad after she recovers from COVID-19. She will likely take the place of Annabel Sutherland, another player who did not have the chance to bat today.

When will these teams meet again?
The format of this World Cup will see each team play every other team once. Then the top four teams will progress to the semi-finals.

Unlike bilateral series, England and Australia will not meet again unless both teams make the finals.

Whilst Australia’s dominance over England continues, England should take plenty of comfort in from their performance today.

Several partnerships formed, Tammy Beaumont scored 74, Heather Knight scored 40 and they very nearly beat Australia – but it was the performance of Nat Sciver which kept England in the game until the very end.

One of Australia’s challenges in the past has been that when an opposition player really settles in, Australia struggles to find a way to get them out. Sciver was troublesome for Australia today, scoring 109 off 85 deliveries.

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Whilst England may not have won a game during the Ashes and posted a loss again today, they have pushed Australia on several occasions, today included. Should these two teams meet again in the finals it will no doubt be another exciting contest.

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