Women's World Cup 2013, Final February 16, 2013

Australia eye sixth World Cup title


England's heroic, but ultimately heartbreaking campaign. India's early exit. Sri Lanka's shocking wins. West Indies' dream run. Amid all this, Australia have been doing what many Australian sides have done at many World Cups. They won everything that came their way until they were assured of a place in the final. They labored to close games they were supposed to win easily. They won games they had no business winning. They then went ahead and lost a game that was dead for them, but altered the tournament as it catapulted the victors West Indies into their maiden World Cup final, and knocked England and New Zealand out.

They are led by a captain who at times has this half-hopeful, half-worried expression on her face, speaks mostly in diplomatic generalities but in the middle transforms into an almost compulsive setter of aggressive fields. Against Sri Lanka, the number of times Jodie Fields had the maximum permissible four fielders in the deep was probably in single digits. She didn't feel threatened by Deandra Dottin's reputation and kept mid-on and mid-off up when the powerful West Indies batsman walked in. When asked if she feels worried if the opposition batsmen have a partnership, she talks about her team developing "bowling partnerships". She does not seem to let edges to the third man boundary bother her - "you don't push the field back just for nicks."

Fields has been able to be so aggressive because her bowlers have kept running through opposition line-ups with unerring regularity. Have a look at the totals they have conceded in the tournament - 84, 188 for 9, 227 for 6, 145, 131 and 164. The latter three have come in the absence of the injured lead fast bowler Ellyse Perry.

Coming into the World Cup, Megan Schutt had played two ODIs, Julie Hunter nine, and the kid in the squad, 17-year old Holly Ferling, none. Schutt, all of 20, has responded with 13 wickets, the joint-highest in the tournament. Hunter has an economy-rate of 2.34. Ferling, with her energetic run-up and advice from her idol Perry to "hit the deck", has taken nine wickets at 3.65 runs an over in the four games she's got. The offspinners, Erin Osborne and Lisa Sthalekar, have seven wickets each at 2.68 and 2.84 runs an over. The useful and effective mediums of Sarah Coyte round off a high-quality attack.

"Megan Schutt has come in the side and she has been a revelation for us," Fields said. "So has youngster Holly Ferling. Very proud of how they played throughout the tournament. They have come in, they have been fielded and they just bowled to their strengths, which is good fast bowling."

It is the batting that has proved problematic in as many as four of Australia's six matches. The openers Rachael Haynes and Meg Lanning have made runs but even they have been inconsistent. The middle order has been rescued at times by the likes of the veteran allrounder Sthalekar. Fields herself has scores of 1, 21, 3 and 18.

Bat first and bat big is how sides have won all three day-night matches in the tournament played at Brabourne Stadium, the venue of the final which will also be played under lights. West Indies' best chance has to be to follow the trend, and put Australia's shaky batting under pressure in the chase.

Doing both will be a massive ask of a team playing their maiden final against a side that has won the title five times. Fields acknowledged Australia would be favourites to add a sixth World Cup trophy. "I guess the Australians have got a lot of advantage," Fields said. "We have been here before and we have managed to win the World Twenty20 trophy [in 2012 and 2010]."

"I feel a sense of history. The Australian team has won the World Cup five times and I was also part of the side in 2009 back in Sydney when we didn't have such a good tournament. So to be involved in a World Cup final is an amazing opportunity for me personally and also for the team. We're keen to get out there and have a good shot at the sixth."

The 2010 World Twenty20 win had come with the Australia men's team watching after losing their own final to England. This time, they are in Chennai playing a tour match ahead of their Test series against India. Fields said Michael Clarke and his men had a message for her team before the final. "They have said they are really proud of our team and proud to be watching alongside what we have achieved with the World Twenty20 and also that there is a big opportunity for us to walk away with our sixth title."

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rod on February 17, 2013, 13:00 GMT

    At the half way stage, it hasn't been much of an advert for women's cricket. Some inept fielding from WI and nearly all Aussie wickets were given away by under hitting full tosses and half volleys that should have disappeared into the middle of next week. If the Windies get within 100 runs of this total I'll be amazed. From what I've seen today England will be kicking themselves for their own lack of application during the tournament.

  • Dummy4 on February 17, 2013, 12:43 GMT

    Haven't watched any of the previous matches. 259 should be enough to win. Could have been more, could have been less. Didn't know Perry could bat that well.

  • Rod on February 17, 2013, 9:47 GMT

    The dropping of Holly Ferling is an absolute joke. I'll guarantee if they had of been playing England in the final she would have played. Maybe their over confidence will be their undoing after they somehow conveniently 'managed' to lose to the West Indies in the previous game.

  • Alex on February 17, 2013, 6:16 GMT

    Chinese astrology say Aussie wins.

  • Dummy4 on February 17, 2013, 3:58 GMT

    Looking forward to a great game. Two excellent sides, with stars in each. I hope Ellyse Perry is fit and ready to play. All the best to both sides, but I hope Australia prevails.

  • muhammed on February 17, 2013, 3:50 GMT

    Come on WI you can do it.....already proud of your achievement. Mohammed

  • Rob on February 17, 2013, 0:24 GMT

    RustyCJ7Jeep on (February 16, 2013, 17:24 GMT) Shame it is not A T20 game then if WI is a factory for T20 specialists.

  • Dummy4 on February 17, 2013, 0:02 GMT

    Hope that Elysse Perry is now fit and that Perry and Ferling get to bowl together in the final, would be the women's cricket equivalent of Lillee and Thomson. Elysse and Holly are a lot easier on the eye than Dennis and Thommo though!!!

  • Satish on February 16, 2013, 17:28 GMT

    Twice the women out did men in Wt20 and I asure evrybody we will see history tomorrow 6th WC for Southern Stars.Amazing stuff it is.

  • Russell on February 16, 2013, 17:24 GMT

    The Windies is a factory for T20 specialists be it men or women. Sorry Aussies this cup and those in the coming years belong to the Windies. I just hope I can see this game on ESPN3 online.

  • No featured comments at the moment.