The narrative around the women’s game, it could be said, has changed for the better, especially in the post-ICC Women’s 50-over world cup period.
A closely fought, incredibly entertaining tournament, held two years go, brought the cricket lover in closer examination and anticipation surrounding a game that had hitherto enjoyed a one-sided narrative, focusing purely on the male version of the sport.
But the interest in the women’s game continued to reach new heights in 2019, thanks to year-round series’ held around the cricket-frenzied nations.
Today, the women’s game is constantly pushing the envelope, finding newer meaning and reinvigorated purpose through all format contests, even though the longest classic format still features two of the premier sides in Australia and England.
Cricket is being played and being taken to new heights in geographies not many would’ve thought existed in the women’s contest- such as The Maldives, Thailand where new anchors are writing their own stories just as familiar, mainstays- the Lannings, Mandhanas, Perrys, Taylors, Healys, Rajs, Atapattus- continue to spike interest in an incredibly absorbing game.
But in 2019, something new happened that perhaps not many had anticipated; a woman’s IPL. There were close finishes, a tied ODI series, absolute one-sided domination by India, hat-tricks, more women power in WBBL, familiar sparks of Proteas fire, new beginnings for Associate nations, and much more.
So what were the best moments for women’s cricket in 2019? Let’s find out!
Smriti Mandhana Shone Bright For India
Ensuring this was the case for the better part of her 2019 outings, Mandhana, who features both in ICC Women’s ODI and T20 teams, began her year with a blast, bringing up a fourth ODI ton against NZ, as she became only the second-ever batswoman after Claire Taylor to hit hundreds in the SENA countries (South Africa, England, New Zealand, and Australia).
In the same series, she continued with a quickfire unbeaten 90 off just 83. And later, as England toured the Smriti Mandhana-land, the lofty striker of the ball, was at her best, firing two stroke-filled fifties, at well above the strike rate of 85.
Mandhana, despite being injured in the latter half of India’s season was a consistent whipping force for India’s opponents. Few batswomen, it ought to be said, bring as much excitement to the game as a rush of the adrenaline. India will hope this continues in the T20 World Cup in 2020.
Alyssa Healy’s record-breaking T20 feet
When Alyssa Healy hits the cricket ball, it stays hit. And that’s exactly what happened when the belligerent, petite mutant from Australia served a big hammering to Sri Lanka Down Under.
Not only did Healy power Australia to 226, their record-highest total in T20 cricket, a feat that was achieved earlier in the year at the back of a Meg Lanning-special (133 off just 63 against England), she tore apart a clueless Lanka while notching up her hundred of just 46 balls.
Her 148 came off just 61 balls and ferried the white ball to the skies and over the ropes on more occasions than the Sri Lankans would’ve ever expected.
Healy’s rampaging T20 ton was the highest individual T20 score for any Women cricketer and it also made for one of the best moments for women’s cricket in 2019.
A young star rises: Shafali Verma
There’s always excitement when a young talent breaks through. But what do opponents do when a rising force is merely 15 years old?
When Shafali Verma made her international debut, playing the T20 against South Africa at home, in India, she even left the master-blaster Sachin Tendulkar behind, in being the youngest-ever talent to wield a cricket bat for India.
But Verma immediately gave an indication of her talent as she rewarded the faith of the selectors, by nearly decimating the Windies women single-handedly, as she struck 158 runs from just 5 T20s in the Caribbean, her first-ever outing outside of India.
Verma’s young promise and all the talent brought up one of the best moments for women’s cricket in 2019.
Marizanne Kapp’s sparkles with a hat-trick
Even though her face didn’t leak of emotion, the fiery Marizanne Kapp, smashed her way into WBBL history books through an exceptional hat-trick for her Syndey Sixers.
In scuttling the tail of the Stars line-up, Kapp took what was only the fourth hat-trick in the WBBL, and the second-ever by a Proteas cricketer, the first being her partner, Dane van Niekerk.
In taking 3 in 4 overs for only 16, Marizanne Kapp spread fire at the Hurstville Oval in Australia in the WBBL.
Incidentally, another international hat-trick was also taken by a Proteas cricketer, Kapp’s compatriot Masabata Klaas in the series-leveling second ODI against Pakistan.
The feats truly spelled among the best moments for women’s cricket in 2019.
Ellyse Perry: the best among them all, ICC women’s cricketer of the year
Beautiful, ever beaming in confidence, and a force that comes across as a beast that can’t be repressed or ignored by opponents- the Ellyse Perry legend continued to inspire and engage this year.
In becoming the ICC Woman’s cricketer of the year, 2019, Australia’s incredible Ellyse Perry, someone who can be called a resounding triumph in the women’s game, brought as many smiles as plaudits.
In continuing her golden touch in ODI cricket, something that’s nearly become standard practice for arguably the best all-rounder in the women’s game, Perry was meticulous and focused with the ball and an attacking figure with the bat.
In 2019, she averaged 73.5 with the bat and struck 21 times in ODI cricket.
Sophie’s Devine touch in WBBL
The White Ferns aren’t just about the mesmerizing talent of Suzie Bates alone, who happens to be among the greatest all rounders in the current game. Lesson learned, the WBBL showcased the might of perhaps their quiet and understated performer Sophie Devine, who seemed in a divine touch in the WBBL.
In giving an exhibition of very high-class batting from the very top drawer, it seemed, Devine was so intent in top-lining the tournament, that she just didn’t allow other capable performers to draw level with her. This is when the likes of Stafanie Taylor, Ellyse Perry, Meg Lanning were in the same series!
In the end, Sophie Devine’s powerful, aggressive, nearly faultless batting saw the Kiwi compile 769 runs, including 9 fifties. She was also consistent and effective where the wickets column was concerned, marking 19 victims, at an economy of a little over 6.
Devine’s smiling obliteration of her opponents meant that this was one of the best moments for women’s cricket in 2019.
Women’s IPL, a new start for the game
One of the biggest and best moments for women’s cricket in 2019 was the inaugural IPL season in 2019 that saw 4 thrilling games with Harmanpreet’s IPL Supernovas trumping the Trailblazers and Velocity.
It was about time that the women’s game got its own flavor and platform of a contest that has been much loved in the male game.
And boy what a thunderous start it was for IPL’s maiden season. In the long run, the tournament shall extend and heighten the interaction of talents from around the world, making the women’s game a closer-knit sport than before.
Sarah Taylor leaves but not before inspiring a generation
It wasn’t all pretty smiles and shining faces in 2019 for women’s cricket. If there was a feeling that left many forlorn then it was Sarah Taylor’s retirement from the game, for the sheer impact that she’s had on the sport.
For someone who played, kept, scored and did all of this with much enthusiasm and spirit for 13 long years, in a career that produced nearly 7000 international runs, over 4000 in ODIs (including 7 hundreds), it wasn’t easy to see a legend walk into the sunset.
But it appeared that Taylor made her peace with the anxiety issues that had plagued much of her progress in the past couple of years.
A spirited, determined cricketer who fought for England with unmatched passion, it will always be difficult to choose what brought the fan greater joy- Taylor’s agility behind the stumps or her craftiness with the bat?
Anjali Chand: a new dawn for Nepal’s cricket
One of the best moments for women’s cricket in 2019 came at the back of a special feat by a cricketer whose name may not be the most familiar in the modern annals of the game- the vastly talented but low key Anjali Chand of Nepal.
As she came into bowl against the Maldives in the South Asian Games, Chand bowled a total of 13 deliveries, i.e., 2.1 overs from which she conceded absolutely no runs whatsoever and picked 6 wickets.
There are great bowling spells. There are incredible bowling spells and there are the ones bowled by rising stars like Chand, that can give any A-list cricketer the goosebumps.