KEN PIESSE was one of the 86,000 plus Australian record crowd at the MCG for the women’s T20 World Cup final:
ON a decibel scale, the roar rivaled almost anything heard at the MCG for 50 years: Jezza 1970, Hoggie 1978 and Leo Barry 2005.
As Australia’s Ash Gardner raced to take the match-clinching catch, 86,000 plus held their breath and most of us supporting the Aussies roared with delight.
Not only was it another win for the Australian women cricket team, it strengthened cricket’s status as Australia’s quintessential national sport, just two years after it had been tainted and besmirched like never before.
The spirit and skill of the Australian girls, even without their pin-up Elysse Perry, was truly wondrous, burying all the negatives inflicted on the game by the men in South Africa.
Australia’s display was faultless, athletic and compelling.
When Alyssa Healy struck her third six in a row over extra cover, Australia’s 2015 World Cup winning captain Michael Clarke said: “You’ll never see better than that, male or female.”
Healy was brave and inspired. She launched herself down the wicket from the first ball and struck a boundary.
It took four balls for the opposing bowler, a very nervous Deepti Sharma, to even land one.
Several of Healy’s sixes travelled more than 80 metres, making a mockery of the reduced boundaries.
Her opening partner Beth Mooney, player of the series, kept caressing the ball over the top of cover and by 10 overs, with Australia 0-91, it was game over.
Both openers were dropped before they’d reached 10, the Indians overcome by the big occasion.
The Australians were brave and aggressive, vice-captain Rachael Haynes fearlessly sprinting back for a three which few of her male counterparts would have even considered.Embed from Getty Images
Even India’s matchwinner, the diminutive leggie Poonam Yadav, could not exert any influence with the Australians dancing at her and breaking her line and spirit.
In the run chase, once India’s teenage whizz-kid Shafali Verma was beaten by the bounce and out in the first over, a crushing Australian victory was inevitable.
Captain Meg Lanning was adventurous with her field placings and mixed and matched her bowlers, rarely allowing anyone two overs in a row. Young leggie Georgia Wareham wasn’t even needed as Perry’s pace bowling substitute Delissa Kimmince rose to the challenge.
All the Indians fell to catches, the Australians sure and confident.
Match organisers the ICC want to encourage an extra one million to play the game this year and next. Most could come from Downunder judging on the average age of the crowd with thousands of young girls (and boys) loving the occasion.
The inspired appearance of the American songstress Katie Perry swelled the numbers.
She added to a wondrous night.
* President of the Australian Cricket Society, Ken Piesse is thrilled that three of the ACS Young Cricketers of the Year were in Australia’s starting XI on Sunday: Meg Lanning (2010), Sophie Molineux (2014) and Georgia Wareham (2016)