England’s women might be on their way to the 2022 World Cup, with history in their eyes. But it will take a miracle for them get past Thailand and China in 2020 if they don’t improve soon. Here is why this could finally become the year of England ladies footballers.
On March 22, England will defend their World Cup title against Australia.
The ruins. A World Cup defense is underway. The Commonwealth Games are held every four years. In 2022, England will be host to three major events.
Heather Knight enters the new year knowing that it will be a watershed moment for her England team, which is riding high on the back of a historic 2021 for the women’s game.
They begin in Australia, with just the greatest team in the world standing in their way of winning the Ashes.
They go to New Zealand two months later to defend the 50-over World Cup, which they won in exciting manner at a sun-drenched Lord’s five years ago.
Then it’s back home for the domestic summer and a chance to capture a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, which will include women’s cricket for the first time.
Whatever perspective you choose, England has had a wonderful year.
The Ashes come first.
What a way to kick off the new year.
England hasn’t won the Ashes in eight years, despite the fact that their most recent success in the format was away from home.
Against Australia, Knight’s team has had a difficult time. They lost the Test on home soil in 2015 and had one of their poorest batting performances in the last one-day international in 2019, when an inspired Ellyse Perry knocked them out for 75 runs.
In Australia, tests have tended to be a touch flat, with Perry scoring century for the sake of it. Both teams, though, have more red-ball miles in their legs than the opposition, having played a Test against India in their respective home summers.
Because the series is multi-format, each game has value. It also means that if one team is on a run, stopping them might be tough.
This England team, though, has a different vibe from the one that went to Australia last time around. They are coached by Australian Lisa Keightley and play a more optimistic brand of cricket, with a good balance of youth and experience in their side.
It will not be simple, but there are possibilities for England. It will be crucial to get off to a solid start in the Test.
Then there’s the World Cup defense.
England’s victory in 2017 was a landmark occasion, with Knight collecting the trophy 46 years after Rachael Heyhoe-Flint won the first championship in front of a packed house at Lord’s.
In a tense finish, England overcame India by nine runs in front of a crowd of 24,000 spectators.
Since then, England’s fortunes in the 50-over game have been uneven. They’ve won 23 of their 38 One-Day Internationals, including series wins against India and New Zealand. However, they have only defeated their primary rivals Australia once in six matches.
For a long time, it seemed as though you could anticipate England’s starting lineup for each encounter. Consistency is a good thing, and England will properly emphasize the importance of big-game experience. England, on the other hand, suddenly has serious choices.
There is strength in depth, whether it is those who made their debut during the summer, the return of left-arm seamer Tash Farrant, or growing youngsters like 17-year-old Alice Capsey. Sophia Dunkley has improved the batting line-up, while off-spinner Charlie Dean had a field day against New Zealand at the close of the season.
Australia, as usual, will be the favorites. South Africa, whom England has failed to beat in international championships, is also looking strong, while India will be seeking to revenge their Lord’s defeat.
However, England has more choices than ever before, which will serve them well over the course of the month-long competition.
In addition, there will be a Commonwealth Games debut.
Women’s cricket will be featured in the Commonwealth Games for the first time, and England will be one of eight countries contending for a medal.
The Twenty20 matches will take place over nine days at Edgbaston, with England placed in a group with South Africa, New Zealand, and a qualifier to be determined in January.
T20 cricket will be contested for the first time in the Games in Birmingham 2022, with men’s 50-over cricket featured in the 1998 event in Kuala Lumpur.
Australia is the clear favorite, and will almost certainly field a full squad in their quest for a gold medal to add to their already impressive trophy collection.
The Games will serve as a warm-up for the next T20 World Cup, which will be held in South Africa in 2023, but they will also introduce the game to a larger audience, since Commonwealth Games are known for generating large crowds.
For the first time in a major multi-sport event, the tournament will have the biggest female and para-sport program in history, with more women’s medal events than men’s.
The gold medal won by England in netball in 2018 provided a significant boost for the sport, with the victory moment being replayed over and over, and participation in the sport increasing by 80% in the first year following the Games.
The Games provide England with the opportunity to play in front of a larger audience, with matches shown on free-to-air television in their home country. It has the potential to be a tremendous boost for a game that is already gaining popularity as the summer progresses.