Women’s Cricket World Cup sets bar high with rugby, football up next in New Zealand

Andrew Voerman is also a Stuff sports reporter

OPINION: One down, two to go.

The first of three women’s World Cups in New Zealand in the space of 18 months has finished.

Australia took out the cricket title on Sunday with a win over England in front of a sell-out, 7,000-strong crowd at Hagley Oval in Christchurch.

An Australia fan shows his support during the Women's Cricket World Cup Final between Australia and England at Hagley Oval in Christchurch.

Hannah Peters / Getty Images

An Australia fan shows his support during the Women’s Cricket World Cup Final between Australia and England at Hagley Oval in Christchurch.

Still to come are rugby, in October and November, and football, next July and August.

* Witty Alyssa Healy steals the show for Australia on and off the field in the World Cup final
* ‘It’s not relief … it’s just a pride’: Australia revel in champions tag after reclaiming Women’s Cricket World Cup
* Australia can only be applauded as the Women’s Cricket World Cup win caps dominant era
* Alyssa Healy propels Australia to Women’s Cricket World Cup title with stellar 170

Based on what we’ve seen over the past month or so, the bar has been set high.

The Women’s Cricket World Cup began with venues operating at 10 per cent capacity, due to the arrival of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

But it finished with no restrictions in place, so a bumper crowd was on hand to watch the dueling innings from Australia’s Alyssa Healy, who made 170, and England’s Nat Sciver, who made 148.

After 31 matches in 31 days across six venues in six cities, the tournament got the spectacle it deserved right at the last.

The fact that the crowds were limited for much of the event was the only major blemish – and something that was out of the organizers’ hands.

That only two positive Covid-19 tests were reported among players during the tournament – one right as it started, one in the final week – would have pleased them from the end.

The action on the field was compelling, with 10 matches out of 31 decided by 12 runs or fewer or three wickets or fewer.

Australia may have won nine from nine to claim their seventh title, but they were pushed just enough to make things interesting, rather than boring.

The White Ferns underperformed on home soil as they missed the semifinals, suffering the heartbreak of three close losses – by three runs to the West Indies, two wickets to South Africa, and one wicket to England

Getting over the line under pressure in just one of those matches would have put them in the semifinals, but it wasn’t to be, as the three teams that beat them made instead.

They will now move on with a new coach to the Commonwealth Games in England in July and the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa in February, having had their chance on home soil.

Even though they fell short of where they wanted to be, it was clear the home of the World Cup was a special experience for them.

As Katey Martin wrote in a social media post the day before the White Ferns’ final match: “This World Cup will leave lasting memories of NZ and our pride of showing our love for sport and our country”.

Next up is the Rugby World Cup, featuring the Black Ferns, who looked well off the pace when they played England and France in Europe in November.

They’re also still waiting for the final outcome of a review into the team’s culture and environment instigated last December, which is due to be made public this week.

Katey Martin summed up the Women's Cricket World Cup well in a social media post ahead of the White Ferns' final match.

Andrew Cornaga / Photosport

Katey Martin summed up the Women’s Cricket World Cup well in a social media post ahead of the White Ferns’ final match.

Then comes the Fifa Women’s World Cup, featuring the Football Ferns, who are in action against Australia this week, as they continue their preparations in pursuit of a first World Cup win.

They’ve been a mixed bag so far under new coach Jitka Klimková and need to start hitting their strides sooner than later.

Both those tournaments should – fingers crossed – avoid any Covid-19 disruption and be able to attract strong crowds.

They’ll have their work cut out to provide as many quality contests as we’ve seen over the past month.

But the teams involved will certainly have the Women’s Cricket World Cup’s motto in mind.

“Let’s show them”.

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