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Megan Maurice reports that South Africa is challenging the extent of Australia's domination in women's cricket.
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Megan Maurice reports that South Africa is challenging the extent of Australia’s domination in women’s cricket.


After the South African women’s cricket team achieved two significant victories in the T20 and ODI series, there is a debate surrounding the upcoming Test: has the distance between Australia and other teams diminished? This inquiry has sparked defensive reactions in Australia, as some believe their successful investment in the women’s program is the reason for their triumphs, suggesting other countries should follow suit to achieve success.

It is understandable in some ways. Other countries have invested a significant amount of money in their men’s teams, indicating that they have the means to better support their women’s teams if they wanted to. However, wouldn’t it benefit Australia to keep world cricket competitive? To have some excitement in their matches instead of every trophy being a foregone conclusion. While Australians may enjoy a winning team, eventually they may become fatigued with constant wins and lose interest. The record-breaking crowd at the MCG for the T20 Women’s World Cup final in 2020 was partially due to Australia’s earlier loss to India and the close matches throughout the tournament.

Currently, there is still an ample amount of excitement between games to keep individuals interested. However, the T20 and ODI matches against South Africa have revealed the amount of effort (and luck) required to defeat the Australian team. While it is possible, maintaining that level of effort over multiple games is a different challenge altogether. During the 2023 Ashes, England came close but were only able to tie the series. Several months later, India started off strong with a Test victory but struggled in the limited-overs matches. In the ongoing series, South Africa has achieved two impressive wins but even if they manage to secure a Test victory this week, the best they can do is tie the series.

Marizanne Kapp appeals for a wicketView image in fullscreen

When T20s were first introduced to women’s cricket, they helped level the playing field. However, it took some time for the Australian women’s team to transfer their success from the One Day International arena to the shortest format. Due to the infrequency of Test matches in women’s cricket, they often provide other countries with the best opportunity to defeat Australia. Test cricket requires a specific focus and tactical knowledge that cannot simply be replicated from white-ball cricket. While South Africa has not played a Test match since mid-2022, Australia has only played two during that time. They may have more practice, but not by a significant margin. As both teams are still adjusting, the outcome becomes less predictable and the element of surprise becomes more prominent.

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Marizanne Kapp, the talismanic all-rounder, is crucial to South Africa’s success. In the recent ODI match, her score of 75 and three wickets with an economy rate of 2.4 were instrumental in the team’s victory. She also played a key role in the 2022 Test against England, scoring 150 runs in the first innings despite rain interruptions. Despite facing injuries, Kapp has persevered and will need to be in top form to help South Africa win the Test and tie the multi-format series.

The Australians are eager to forget their previous Test defeat to India in Mumbai and are relying on the sunny weather in Perth to allow for four full days of cricket. While a tie would be sufficient to secure the series victory, the limited number of Test matches has fueled their desire to win every opportunity. The renowned bounce of the Waca pitch makes Darcie Brown a crucial player for the Australians, utilizing her fast-paced deliveries to dominate the game.

The ongoing discussion about the disparity between Australia and other countries will persist, but currently, the players are focused on the rare chance to showcase their dynamic style of cricket in traditional red-ball matches. Following a season filled with memorable moments in men’s Test matches, this upcoming one is bound to have its own unique story.

Source: theguardian.com