Photo Credit: Cricket South Africa/Raymond Herbst
There is a buzz of anticipation on the tip of Africa – and for good reason too! South Africa finds itself in the unique position of hosting not one, but two ICC Women’s T20 World Cups in consecutive months.
The ICC Under19 Women’s T20 World Cup starts on 14 January, and it will be followed by the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in February.
Looking ahead to a historic couple of months on home soil, Proteas captain, Suné Luus said: It is a massive couple of months for South Africa, and it will be a boost for our women’s cricket and our cricket overall. Everyone is excited, and the whole country is buzzing! We can’t wait.”
Her excitement was shared by another global icon in Australia’s Alyssa Healy. The serial World Cup winner had this to say about the Women’s Under 19 T20 World Cup: “I think it’s a fantastic initiative to see the next generation of international cricketers getting an opportunity to play a global event like a World Cup over in South Africa. It’s a great opportunity for young players.”
The introduction of a junior World Cup in the women’s game is pivotal in building up the next generation of stars to take over from the likes of Luus and Healy on the global stage. With women’s cricket forming part of the ICC’s priority projects to deliver transformative growth under its global growth strategy, the legacy that this tournament will create could be the impetus that is needed to accelerate the growth of the game locally and across the continent.
“It is so important for young girls to get a taste of what it’s like to be on a world stage, this could be the push that has so many participating players make the final choice to pursue cricket as a career. This tournament is also a big steppingstone for a lot of young girls who want to make it into their senior sides.
“A tournament like this is a crucial advertisement for the women’s game, especially in South Africa where we are still building depth,” Luus explained.
Healy, who played an instrumental part in reigning champions, Australia’s 2020 T20 World Cup triumph in Melbourne that saw a record attendance of 86 000 fans, reiterated that it is imperative to invest in the development structures of the game, to ensure its continued growth.
“We’ve seen the women’s game grow dramatically in certain parts of the world at the top level – but what’s happening underneath the national teams is equally as important,” Healy pointed out.
“This event will showcase each country’s next generation and show the importance of adequate support and investment at the lower levels to ensure success at that top level for years to come.”
Naturally both Luus and Healy would love to see their countries become the first-ever U19 T20 World Cup winners.
Healy had this message for the young hopefuls in Aussie gold: “Good luck girls! Australia has an incredibly proud history of success in World Cups and hopefully that flows through to you girls as well. I’ve been privileged to be able to watch you all grow and develop as cricketers over the last few years through the WBBL and WNCL tournaments. I’m confident we’ve got a great chance of bringing home the trophy – but more importantly I hope you enjoy the experience of wearing the Aussie colours on the big stage. Look after one another and enjoy the opportunity!”
Luus said she would love to see South Africa triumph on home soil but reminded her compatriots to soak in this unique experience.
“It is so important to still have fun. This is a big stage, but it is still a cricket match. You must still have fun. Express yourselves, and remember you are all there because you have the talent and you deserve your place in the team. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most of you, so enjoy it!”