ICC Women's World Twenty20 2009

Are we being foolishly optimistic?

Despite the merger with the men's tournament, support for the women's game has been far from forthcoming

Alice Dean

June 18, 2009

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Sian Ruck impressed with figures of 2 for 18, India v New Zealand, 1st semi-final, ICC Women's World Twenty20, Trent Bridge, June 18, 2009
Until now the women's tournament, crouching away in Taunton, has had little attention, sinking almost without trace under the weight of media attention for the men © Getty Images
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The moment that women's cricket had been waiting for - sharing the stage with the men in the first semi-final at Trent Bridge - was something of a predictable anti-climax.

Yes, Aimee Watkins stroked the highest score of this World Twenty20, for men or women, with her 89 not out but most people missed it and those who didn't soon forgot about it as attentions turned to Pakistan and South Africa men. Still, these are early days in what is a brave experiment by the ICC and the interest could yet turn around.

Keen to attract as many women as possible into the game, the double-header in a world tournament was a watershed moment.

The significance of the day, however, seemed to pass most people by and it was a shame that the crowd swell towards the end of the match coincided with India having to hit out, and so getting out. India's delicate batting is not of the boom-boom variety, either, which Twenty20 - and spectators - favour.

But perhaps we few women's cricket fans were expecting too much. Perhaps, when the announcement came last year that the women would join the men, we built up our hopes too strongly that overnight the world would wake up to the enjoyment of the women's game.

That they wouldn't mind that some female batsmen substitute power for technique, that the bowlers are not powerhouses, that they would appreciate the fielding skills. That we wouldn't overhear respected male figures in the game still talking disparagingly about a game at which they have barely glanced. Yes, it was naivete on our part.

Still, we remain (foolishly?) optimistic. Success will be judged on column inches and there were plenty of India media - booked in to Trent Bridge having originally expected to see their men - who watched and attended the press conference of a disconsolate Jhulan Goswami. And there were those who had never seen women's cricket, who are new converts to the game. Slowly, slowly, catch a monkey.

And if today was a timid bite at the cherry, Friday and Sunday represent bigger and better ones yet. World Cup holders England play at The Oval and will hope to rely on home fans to turn up for their match and provide bigger support than for the first women's semi-final when they take on traditional rivals Australia.

England's players have a bigger profile than ever before, boosted by the World Cup win and then by the announcement of Claire Taylor's Wisden Cricketer of the Year accolade which was widely acclaimed by all. It is still to be hoped that there will be a deluge of media interest, particularly now the men are out. Or is it wishful thinking?

Until now the women's tournament, crouching away in Taunton, has had little attention, sinking almost without trace under the weight of media attention for the men. The Oval semi-final - and then the final at Lord's - could yet provoke more interest. Stay tuned…if you care.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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Tournament Results
Eng Women v NZ Women at Lord's - Jun 21, 2009
Eng Women won by 6 wickets (with 18 balls remaining)
Eng Women v Aus Women at The Oval - Jun 19, 2009
Eng Women won by 8 wickets (with 3 balls remaining)
India Women v NZ Women at Nottingham - Jun 18, 2009
NZ Women won by 52 runs
Eng Women v Pak Women at Taunton - Jun 16, 2009
Eng Women won by 63 runs
Aus Women v SA Women at Taunton - Jun 16, 2009
Aus Women won by 24 runs
More results »
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News | Features Last 3 days