Photo Credit: ICC
Flags advertising the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 are fluttering in the Christchurch breeze as the countdown to the start of the tournament ramps up.
The competition will begin as hosts New Zealand take on the West Indies in Tauranga on 4 March, with Christchurch set to host the final a month later.
As the world’s attention turns to New Zealand, ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 CEO Andrea Nelson explains the hard work it has taken to put on cricket’s greatest show.
“I started in 2019, obviously at that point, we were planning for the tournament in 2021, so it has had a few twists and turns along the way,” Nelson said.
“But the core aim of the tournament has never changed and we have an ambition to own the moment of that global trajectory of women’s sport, and really lead the change.
“I think either with doubling the prize money as the ICC announced or the athletes being at the best venues and showcasing women’s cricket to the widest possible audience despite everything that’s happened, those core things have changed in the last couple of years.
“We’ve had a fair few curveballs thrown at us along the way in planning this event, but we just tried to focus on the end result and that’s seen us through to the point where we’re just days away from kicking off.
“When you’re working on a women’s event like this, the ambition, the drive behind that gets you through the obstacles that you come across.”
The tournament will take place at six venues across New Zealand with current plans to have groups of 100 fans in a section to maximise access for women’s cricket fans.
Nelson added: “We are the first of three world cups that are happening for women here in New Zealand, so later on this year, there’s a women’s Rugby World Cup and then next year FIFA are holding the World Cup here so it was incredibly important to us to take it far and wide.
“I’m here in Christchurch, which is on the South Island of New Zealand today. There are flags all over the city, the hype is building so despite all of the things that are happening, the excitement here in New Zealand is really strong.”
The Cricket World Cup is not just kicking off a huge two years for women’s sport in New Zealand but it also marks the continuation of milestone moments for women’s cricket.
“When I first started this job, I went to meet with the WHITE FERNS and talked to them about what inspired them to take up cricket and to build a career in the sport, and for them, they talked a lot about male role models, their fathers, their uncles, male players,” Nelson explained.
“And what they really wanted to see was themselves as role models, inspiring a new generation of boys and girls to take up cricket and to see female and male athletes at the same level.
“So, we take our place in the history of women’s cricket events that have broken ground, 2017 in the UK was a significant moment and 2020 in Melbourne, and we want to be the next step on that journey.”
New Zealand’s proud history is something that has been guiding the preparation for the tournament and one that players from all the teams have been made aware of.
Nelson said: “We have a Maori word ‘Manaakitanga’ which means welcome, and it’s a really big part of our culture here.
“So when we host events, the host cities, the venues, the cricket associations, the government, everybody is behind it in one big team and really the driving thing is to give everyone as warm a welcome as we can.
“Talking to some of the teams and the officials even though they had to isolate when they first came to New Zealand, they have really enjoyed the warm welcome that was given and now they’re here in Christchurch and around the country out and about, I think they’re starting to see that spirit come to life.
“Our president of New Zealand Cricket Debbie Hockley, obviously a cricket legend on her own, wrote a letter to each of the team members thanking them for the time that they did in isolation in order to make this event happen.
“The feedback we’ve had is fantastic, the teams are in great shape and ready to put on an amazing show starting in just a few days.”