With just a fortnight till the first ball is bowled in the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 22, Kristy Havill looks at the tournament’s surprising beginnings, a less surprising prize purse and whether fans will be allowed through the turnstiles.
Here’s a nice bit of sports trivia for your next pub quiz – the Women’s Cricket World Cup was actually invented and held before the men’s equivalent.
Louder for the people at the back?
The Women’s Cricket World Cup of 1973 was the inaugural world championship event for the sport of cricket, after English captain Rachael Heyhoe-Flint and businessman Jack Hayward put their heads together and the idea was born. (The men didn’t play in a World Cup till 1975).
New Zealand, England, Australia, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago were the first countries to participate in the event in England, while an international XI and Young England sides were formed to bolster numbers.
It was the first time many of the players had experienced the newly minted limited-overs format – which was actually 60 overs in those days, not the 50-over game we know now.
The tournament didn’t have semifinals or a final, but rather whoever ended up top of the table at the conclusion were crowned the winners.
Hayward contributed tens of thousands of pounds in order for the tournament to take place. The 14 women representing New Zealand had to fundraise $1000 to secure their spot on the trip.
That’s a lot of hardware store sausage sizzles.
Regardless of where it is, who’s playing, how much it costs and whether the players are wearing white culottes or coloured kit, the impact of the World Cup spreads to all corners of the globe to inspire and encourage.
This time it’s 31 matches, eight teams, six cities, one champion.
For this year’s ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup, the top eight nations in the world will battle it out over a four-week period in a round robin format, with the top four in the standings securing their spot in the semis before the grand final at Hagley Oval on April 3.
CWC22 – THE FACTS:
Here’s your quick guide to how the event arrived back on our shores, who’s participating, where matches will be played, how much teams can win and how you can get amongst it.
The stories of how the White Ferns conquered the world after beating the Aussies in a last-gasp thriller on the Bert Sutcliffe Oval in Lincoln in 2000 are the stuff of New Zealand cricket folklore.
But that wasn’t actually the first time the pinnacle event has been held on our shores – New Zealand hosted the third iteration of the event in 1982.
The Kiwis missed out on running out onto Lancaster Park to contest the final, with Australia toppling their Ashes counterparts England in the title decider. It was the first time a final was played, after the previous two tournaments were decided by the top of the table format.
Then in 2013, New Zealand secured the hosting rights for 2021. That seems like a lifetime ago – the year the Chiefs went back-to-back in Super Rugby and Team New Zealand lost THAT America’s Cup in San Francisco.
After the completion of the 2017 World Cup, with England hoisting the trophy in front of a big crowd at Lord’s, New Zealanders began to dream of history repeating itself.
The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020 spelt trouble from the outset, with the countdown to the tournament opener 12 months later well underway. Organisers, teams and cricket governing bodies nervously waited as the full impact of the pandemic swept all around the world, before the inevitable decision of postponement was made later in the year.
The local organising committee offices at Eden Park went quiet as the shift was made to Zoom and Microsoft Teams, staff hours were cut back, with some personnel opting to take on roles with more certainty elsewhere. Slowly but surely, the cogs kept turning as the world inched into 2021 and a second year of the pandemic.
Five teams had secured their spots at the tournament – New Zealand, Australia, England, South Africa and India. The three remaining berths were to be decided at the World Cup qualifier tournament in Zimbabwe late last year.
Ten teams at the qualifying tournament quickly became nine before the first ball was bowled, as Papua New Guinea withdrew when several players tested positive for Covid-19. The emergence of the Omicron variant in southern Africa during the tournament forced it to be canned early by the ICC.
As a result of their placings in the ICC ODI rankings, Pakistan, West Indies and Bangladesh were confirmed as the final three teams for the World Cup. Ireland, Sri Lanka and Thailand will have felt hard done by, as each of those sides still had a good shout of progressing through to the knockout stages of the qualifier.
It would have been monumental for Thailand to progress further, as they’re beginning to feature more regularly in T20 cricket but are still near the beginning of their one-day cricket journey.
MIQ is yet another hurdle to jump over, although some encouraging news this week with the change to phase 2 of New Zealand’s Omicron strategy – teams who arrived in the last week have their stay shortened from 10 days to seven. Not only is it a big win for their physical and mental wellbeing, but also gives them more time to get out to train and prepare for one of the biggest tournaments of their lives.
Now for the venues – and what a cracking line-up of grounds it is. It’s fantastic to see the best in the country hosting these matches. Women’s cricket deserves to be on par with the men when it comes to playing on quality pitches, in order to have a higher chance of absorbing and highly-skilled cricket.
Eden Park in Auckland (time for a Grant Elliott 2.0 perhaps?), Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui, Seddon Park in Hamilton, Basin Reserve in Wellington, University Oval in Dunedin, and Hagley Oval in Christchurch. Our White Ferns will play a match at each of these grounds, with Seddon Park hosting the team twice.
If you’re based in Wellington, keep your eyes peeled for tournament favourites Australia mooching along the waterfront with flat whites in hand. As with any tournament, there are always quirks in the draw – and for this tournament it’s resulted in the women in gold and green striding out onto the Basin Reserve four times during the round robin stages.
Like those in the capital, fans in Hamilton or the Mount have more cricket than they could throw a stick at. A whopping seven matches each are being held at the Basin, Seddon Park and Bay Oval.
But how many fans will actually be allowed through the gates? Despite ticketholders receiving refunds for their original tickets this week, there are still hopes of having crowds at matches.
Pods of 100 spectators are being used for the Black Caps v South Africa test series at Hagley Oval, and no doubt there will be keen eyes everywhere analysing how that pans out and determining its viability for each of the World Cup venues. On the first day yesterday, fans filled eight pods around the ground.
It would be a huge win if the pods were able to plough ahead. Playing the matches behind closed doors and being shut out of cricket history would not only be tough for the fans, but particularly for the players not having the atmosphere to feed off.
There are still a multitude of ways Kiwis can ensure the tournament is a success from an engagement point of view. Every team is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the works these days – heck probably even Tik Tok as well. Every like, share, retweet and any other social media lingo that’s at the press of a button all contributes towards women’s cricket being talked about.
That’s what the tournament deserves – extensive coverage. It happens for every men’s tournament, and the women have earned the same.
Every match will be broadcast live on Sky, so even if you’ve got matches on in the background, it all counts.
Making the tournament accessible for as many people in New Zealand is paramount to its legacy, and for the future of the sport in the country. We know it works – you only need to ask the current White Ferns what inspired them to play cricket. The answer? Watching New Zealand play – either on television or in person – in 2000, the first time they realised women could cricket for their country.
A quick line on prizemoney while we’re here. This was finalised by the ICC earlier in the week, who confirmed the winners will collect the cheque (sorry, bank deposit) for double what England received when they won in 2017.
A prize of US$1.32m (NZ$1.97m) will go to the victorious nation, while the overall prize pool has increased by 75 percent in five years, to US$3.5 million (NZ$5.22m) shared amongst the teams – around $900,000 to the runners-up, $450,000 each to the losing semifinalists, and a reward of $37,000 per win in the round robin stages.
But – and this is a big but – it’s still less than half of what the men’s teams took home from ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. There was a US$10 million total prize pool for that, and US$4 million for the winners. We’ll just leave that there to sink in for you.
It’s been a long time in the making, but getting to the start-line on March 4 at the Bay Oval in Tauranga, to see the first ball bowled between New Zealand and the West Indies, will bring a big sigh of relief from everyone involved.
For women’s sport in New Zealand, it doubles as the dawn of the exciting next era – one that we’d all be wise to look back and say we were part of.
WORLD CUP TV COVERAGE:
- All games will be live on either Sky Sport 2 or 3 and streaming on Sky Go and Sky Sport Now (which will also have on demand highlights of every match).
- Prime will carry the opening fixture live free-to-air plus highlights of all matches. Prime will also take the final live if New Zealand qualify.
- The day before the tournament, Sky will replay the historic final from CWC 2000 when the White Ferns were victorious (March 3, 3.30pm, Sky Sport 3, Sky Go and Sky Sport Now).