After definitive series wins over India and England this summer – and a total of 29 wins from their last 30 ODIs – Australia head into the Women’s World Cup as overwhelming favourites. It’s a familiar position for this team, who have dominated world cricket for many years. But this particular tournament brings more pressure than usual, and Australia are desperate to regain the trophy after failing to make the final last time out in 2017.
What an incredibly sad day for cricket. We were still coming to terms with news of the death of Rod Marsh when the Shane Warne bombshell hit. You can follow the latest as the tributes continue to pour in with my colleague Emma Kemp over on a different liveblog:
The show must go on though, and there is cricket to be played today, so here we go.
Eight teams. Six venues. Thirty one matches (31!). One month. A festival of cricket across the two islands of New Zealand, featuring the host nation, South Africa, India, Pakistan, West Indies, Bangladesh…. and the old foes of Australia and England, who will be the focus of this liveblog for the next little while.
New Zealand and West Indies kicked things off yesterday about a year after the tournament was supposed to begin. It was an absolute humdinger.
It was Covid, of course, that put paid to plans to hold the tournament in February 2021, and there remain some concerns about how the pandemic will affect play over the next four weeks. New Zealand is in the midst of an Omicron outbreak that has led to something of an acceptance that the virus will intervene at some stage – and a bizarre new rule that could see the world’s best sides fielding members of their management teams in the event squads are reduced by Covid. You couldn’t make it up.
Australia – six-time champions – begin their campaign at Hamilton’s Seddon Park as favourites to hoist the trophy for a seventh time come 3 April, but today’s opponents England – four-time champions – have designs of their own on the silverware as they eye back-to-back trophies after Heather Knight’s Tammy Beaumont-inspired team went all the way on home soil in 2017.
The reigning champs v the world No 1 ODI side. As far as opening round matches go, this one’s a bit tasty. The toss is coming right up. In the meantime, if you fancy getting in touch, please do so on email (email@example.com) or on Twitter @mike_hytner. Let’s get into this…