Australia Women, who have won the Women’s World Cup on six occasions including the previous one in India in 2013, are currently training in Queensland ahead of the 11th edition, scheduled across four venues in England from June 24. As a part of their preparation, they will meet members of former World Cup-winning sides which Meg Lanning, the captain, said was a wonderful opportunity to “learn”.
“I think it is a great chance to learn from those players who have been there and done it before, probably under some difficult circumstances at times. It definitely was not anywhere near professional when we were winning those World Cups a while ago,” Lanning told reporters on Monday (May 29). “We are very excited as a group to be able to meet the players who have been successful in the past and see if we can learn as much as we can, because World Cups are very special and different to what we are used to.”
Australia first lifted the World Cup in 1978, and then repeated the feat in 1982, 1988, 1997, 2005 and 2013. As many as seven members, including Lanning, were a part of the squad that beat West Indies in Mumbai in the final of the last edition. They have continued to establish their dominance despite losing to West Indies in the final of the Women’s World Twenty20 at Eden Gardens in Kolkata last year. They finished on top of the IC Women’s Championship table with 18 wins in 21 games, becoming the first team to qualify for the World Cup. Lanning topped the batting charts with 1232 runs at 72.47, while Ellyse Perry was the second highest scorer with 985 runs. Perry also took 23 wickets, while Jess Jonassen headed the championship’s bowling charts with 31 scalps.
After the Championship, Australia lost a Twenty20 International series to New Zealand at home, but then settled scores with a One-Day International series win in New Zealand.
“Our team has been very successful over a long period of time. We are looking forward to forging our own way as a team, and trying to deliver as best we can. We know it’s going to be really tough,” Lanning added. “We know it’s going to be a very open tournament. But we are all excited about the opportunity and looking forward to making the most of the last couple of weeks in Australia and then getting over to England and preparing as well as we can.”
Australia are training at the Maroochydore Cricket Club in Sunshine Coast in Queensland after a previous session at the National Cricket Centre in Brisbane. They will leave for England on June 10.
“We are heading towards match scenarios now, we will play a 40-over intra-squad match today,” Lanning added. “We have done a lot of training in the nets and on specific skill work, but now it’s time to get into the games, which is what we all love. There is going to be some great competition out there.”
Belinda Vakarewa and Sarah Aley are the two uncapped players in the squad, while the selectors have recalled Rachael Haynes, who suffered an ankle injury earlier this year.
Aley, 32, is a medium pacer who played a crucial role in Sydney Sixers beating Perth Scorchers in the WBBL 2016-17 final. She took 4 for 23 as Sydney successfully defended 124 and secured a seven-run win. She headed the tournament’s bowling charts with 28 wickets in 16 matches at 11.75.
Vakarewa, 19, is a right-arm fast-medium pacer who played for Sydney Thunder. She also toured with Australia Under-21 to Sri Lanka in March-April this year.
“She’s coming out of her shell a little bit. She was pretty quiet early on, she mainly let her actions do the talking in the first (practice) game. She was really enthusiastic, she really impressed us with her attitude towards the team,” Lanning said of Vakarewa, one of two teenagers in the squad alongside Amanda-Jade Wellington. “She’s come in really nicely and she’s improving all the time. She’s still very young, but we’re really excited about what she can bring to the team through this World Cup and into the future as well.
“I think that’s really exciting for the group, to be able to bring in some younger players who bring different skill-sets and add to the group,” she added. “That’s the good thing about our side, is we’ve been able to evolve over the last couple of years and we feel like we’ve got a lot of bases covered in terms of different skill-sets.”
Australia start their campaign against West Indies in Taunton on June 26.