England’s Claire Taylor and Isa Guha have got their minds focused on claiming their next piece of ICC silverware.
The pair, who were an integral part of the winning team in the ICC Women’s World Cup in Australia in March, are now turning their attention to the inaugural ICC Women’s World Twenty20 to be played in England from 11 to 21 June.
England opening batter Taylor said: “I think it’s really exciting that the women have an ICC World Twenty20. It’s even more exciting that it’s a tournament being played alongside the guys. We’ve come back to England from winning the 50-over format World Cup, had a couple of months at home giving us time to prepare and think about Twenty20 cricket.
“The type of cricket is about being a bit more aggressive, a bit more attacking, so we’ve got to be ready to get straight into the tournament.”
Medium-pace bowler Guha also commented that Twenty20 cricket was a different game to the other two formats of international cricket but admitted for her personal game she doesn’t view it too differently: “Twenty20 cricket is a really different game to the one-day format. We’ve played a few games in the last few years and obviously we’re working out the best way to play the game. For me it doesn’t change too much from the 50-over format, it’s just about putting in some variation in my bowling and keeping the batter thinking at all times.
“I think in terms of getting people to come and watch the matches, I think it will be easier as it’s the shorter format of the game and it will give people the chance to see girls hitting boundaries and generally being a lot more hard-hitting. There’s this old-school thought that women can’t hit the ball as hard as men and we’ll be able to disprove that a lot more in these Twenty20 games.”
Taylor, who was player of the tournament at the ICC Women’s World Cup and named one of Wisden’s five cricketers of the year this year, believes the women’s format of Twenty20 will bring a variety of styles to the pitch.
“Women’s Twenty20 is about high skill levels, the best fielding teams are going to be the ones that cut off the most runs, if we play on good quick outfields,” Taylor said, “I think we’ll keep the boundaries in quite a lot, so then I think batters will start to hit sixes. I think it will be the team that fields best and keeps the runs down that’s going to win this event.
“It’s great the event is being hosted in England. We’ll be based in Taunton for the group matches, which is the home of women’s cricket in England. It’s brilliant as then we’ll be the warm-up games, so to speak, for the men’s semi-finals and final, which is fantastic for the game.”
The 24-year-old Guha admitted that Twenty20 was sometimes seen as a batter’s game but this doesn’t seem to fluster the young England star who has taken 89 ODI wickets: “You could say Twenty20 is a batter’s game but I thrive off it – knowing the batters are coming to get me, that’s when I think I perform at my best. I feel I’m more in control at that point as you know they’re all trying to score boundaries off you. If they do get off to a flyer, then you know its OK as it’s a Twenty20 game and that’s expected. There is pressure on the bowlers, but I think there’s more pressure on the batters as they know they’ve got to go out there and make a big score.
“Anything can happen in Twenty20 cricket; one person can have a really good game and take it from there, making it a tournament with no favourites. We maybe have a slight advantage, in that we are playing at home and hopefully the home crowd will get behind us.”
Taylor, who has amassed 3,611 ODI runs at an average of 40.5 said: “Something has to happen with every ball in Twenty20, as a batter you have to have clear ideas where your hitting areas are, where you’re looking to score runs , it’s just non-stop, there are no random chances of ‘Oh I’ve scored five off this over, I’ll have a dot ball and then I’ll have a look again’ there’s no time for it, no time for a dot ball, it’s really hectic.”
“Cricket in England is on the rise, especially the women’s game, I think there’s been a 45 per cent increase in the number of girls playing cricket in the last few years which is very exciting,” said Guha.
“We get the opportunity to showcase the women’s talent ahead of the men’s games this summer which is exciting – fans might even show up and see Claire Taylor hit a six over long-on and be so impressed that they’ll look to support women’s cricket more, which can’t be a bad thing for the game or England,” she concluded.