Schutt: Semi-final loss in 2017 World Cup the 'kick up the butt' we needed

"What that defeat brought was a form of professionalism and accountability that we didn't have back then"

Annesha Ghosh
Annesha Ghosh
Australia have won all their matches in this World Cup so far  •  ICC via Getty Images

Australia have won all their matches in this World Cup so far  •  ICC via Getty Images

Megan Schutt has harked back to Australia's shock exit from the 2017 ODI World Cup as the "kick up the butt" the team needed to create the kind of "professionalism" that has underpinned their dominance in the format since, including their unbeaten march into the final of the ongoing 2022 edition.
Schutt, the medium-pacer, was part of Australia's 2013 title-winning ODI World Cup campaign and the side that lost to India in the semi-final of the 2017 edition in Derby. Asked what the prospect of Australia, defending champions in the T20 format, playing a 50-over World Cup final in five years meant to her, Schutt expressed her delight at how far the team had come.
"Look, that [Australia's elimination in the 2017 World Cup semi-final] was a very long time ago," Schutt said after Australia handed West Indies a 157-run drubbing on Wednesday to seal a place in a record seventh 50-over World cup final. "We were a very different team and when I see photos from the XI that were on that field [in Derby], it's almost a 180 flip.
"And what that [defeat] brought was a form of professionalism and accountability that we didn't have back then. And now we have plans A through to F and that was the kick up the butt that we kind of needed. So, as much as we can talk about that being a failure and whatnot, that actually created a really good dynasty for us and it's nice five years later to finally be in a final."
At the 2022 World Cup, Schutt has picked up seven wickets across Australia's undefeated eight successive matches, sharing new-ball duties with the experienced Ellyse Perry as well as the up-and-coming teen tearaway, Darcie Brown. Schutt's swing bowling has been one of the key cogs in the wheel of the Australian juggernaut, often setting up batters for the likes of Perry and Brown to strike.
Heading into the final on April 3 in Christchurch, though, the uncertainty over the availability of Perry remains a concern. Australia's premier pace-bowling allrounder, Perry is recovering from back spasms she had sustained in the match against South Africa last Tuesday.
She had to subsequently sit out her team's last two outings - the league-stage match against Bangladesh and the semi-final - meaning the young allrounder Annabel Sutherland slotted in the XI in her stead. Perry was, however, seen having a hit at the nets during the semi-final in Wellington on Wednesday.
"It would be more of a boost for Pez (Perry, rather than the team, if she can play the final)," Schutt said. She then touched upon the bearing effect Perry's absence from the knockout stages of a second straight World Cup could have on the allrounder, having missed the 2020 T20 World Cup semi-final and final on home soil, too.
"That was my first thought when we heard she was having back spasms that surely she's not missing another World Cup final. It's a tough break for someone who's had such a long and successful career. It'd be crazy if she couldn't take the field on Sunday.
"But one plus is we have a whole bench to back that up. So as much as I would love Pez to be on that field and she would love that, too, we know we've got the replacements for that, but hopefully that doesn't come [to that].
"She's a supportive player. We're all pretty lucky that we get along beautifully and love each other's company. So it's just making sure we rally around Pez who's not playing, so it's more so that role but we all had a bit of a laugh and she's a calm head.
"For someone like Belsy (Sutherland), who she really takes under her wing, they both come in and bowl pretty hard. I can see a lot of Belsy and Pez and I think that's a beautiful sight."
Schutt said she was particularly pleased with how clinical Australia had been in this World Cup, never dropping a game despite the stiff challenge posed in patches by some of their opponents.
"It's a dream start," she said about Australia's unbeaten run leading into title clash on Sunday. "We've had some tough games there. I mean, this tournament has been so tightly contested and to come away with eight straight [wins], I think speaks volumes of the cricket we've been playing.
"I think today [Wednesday] was definitely a more clinical performance [in the semi-final against West Indies] and one we'd be more happy with when we're going through our reviews which is crazy to have that kind of form coming in.
"We've been playing consistent cricket for a very long time now and I genuinely believe we deserve to be in this position but to do eight straight so far, is great. But we know that there's one more game to go and whoever our opponent may be hopefully we can just play our best cricket."

Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha