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Comment

Australia's dominance in women's cricket is no fluke

The way the women's game has developed in the country is a lesson for the rest of the world

Ian Chappell
Ian Chappell
09-Apr-2022
Meg Lanning and Alyssa Healy were the pivots around which Australia's 2022 title-winning machine turned  •  CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images

Meg Lanning and Alyssa Healy were the pivots around which Australia's 2022 title-winning machine turned  •  CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images

The highly successful Australian women's cricket team has rightly joined an elite group of winning sides. In recent times that group includes the Australian men's team from around 1999 to the mid-2000s and the West Indies side of the eighties through to the mid-nineties. Both those teams achieved lengthy success and dominated their sport.
The Australia women's team, brilliantly led by Meg Lanning, has put together an incredible run of 40 victories in 42 ODIs since dramatically losing the 2017 World Cup semi-final to India.
Australia capped their skilful performance in this year's tournament by clinching a spectacular 71-run victory in the final. They set England an enormous chase by scoring 356 batting first. This exceptional tally - almost equalling the men who made 359 in the 2003 World Cup final - was anchored by Alyssa Healy's scintillating knock of 170.
Healy is a famous Australian cricket name but she is only one of a number of star players. The team's ongoing success has been built around Lanning's strong leadership, bolstered by the individual brilliance of many.
Healy's slickness with the gloves is not surprising because she has inherited the keeping skills of her uncle Ian. However, when she bats, it's a different story. Where Ian was highly competitive but slightly unorthodox with the bat, Alyssa is a fleet-footed stroke-maker. She uses her feet to get into position and then guides the shot in her preferred direction with subtle use of the wrists. When I chatted with Healy and her father, Greg, over a beer, I realised she also has inherited the cheeky Healy character.
She scored a record-breaking 170 in the final and she also provided a substantial platform for Australia's semi-final win, with a century. Producing big scores in crucial games is a sure way to underline your importance in the team.
Lanning is a high-achieving leader who maintains her standing with continual success.
The thing that strikes you about her batting is her technique. Not only is it built on traditional lines, it also provides her with ample time to play her chosen shot. Her technique is as good as most.
The other aspect is her ability to produce match-defining scores at crucial times. This was again highlighted during the World Cup, with her 135 not out after Australia lost an early wicket in the vital round game against South Africa.
Lanning now has ten centuries in winning ODI chases. That kind of successful consistency will help cement any leader's position.
In addition to her batting ability, she has been a good and studious leader. Her captaincy has evolved and she handles a capable but varied attack and injury setbacks comfortably.
The improved depth and quality of the squad will be pleasing to her. Australia's dominance is no fluke. The demanding nature of the competitions Australia play, from inter-state series to the highly competitive WBBL, and the way salary escalation has been implemented, are lessons to all concerned.
The improvement in women's cricket is obvious from the enormous increase in team totals. While the rapid improvement is visible in Australia's dominance, the increase in scoring rates - improved by nearly two runs per over in three decades - has been apparent throughout the women's game.
The other area where rapid development has been made is fielding. Not only is the ground work much improved but the standard of catching and throwing has risen quickly. The BCCI is now recognising the value of developing the women's game and intends to hold an expanded IPL competition soon.
Along with these rapid improvements has come increased prize money and greater attendance, as indicated by the near capacity crowd at the MCG for the 2020 women's standalone T20 final.
Other teams now need to raise their standard to meet the demanding challenge set by Australia. This will be a tough assignment, especially while the strong-minded Lanning is in charge.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is a columnist