This week saw the end of the best ever Women’s Cricket World Cup. That’s not for debate; this was a contest played in proper cricket grounds, on proper pitches and, with the achievements of India, this is now a really big tournament. It also benefitted from having two cracking semi-finals, and a fairy-tale final for the hosts.
26,000 patrons at Lords can’t be wrong; even if the bacon and eggs members who stayed away in numbers were. It’s been widely reported that the TV audience was 100 million viewers
The next edition of this event is scheduled to be held in New Zealand in 2021, and it will be quite the event.
The previous time New Zealand hosted the WCWC was in 2000. It was brilliant; the hosts won their only World Cup by beating the Evil Empire in the final off the last ball by four runs.
This was at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval in Lincoln; in front of friends and family and some stray sheep. The other venues used in that edition were Hagley Park (the undeveloped version) , and Lincoln Oval. An entire World Cup held within a 15km radius, and not a single grandstand to be seen.
2021 will be so different, and it throws up some interesting questions for the organisers. The sport has come a long way in just the last five years, and that is likely to get bigger over the next four years.
The advent of the Women’s Big Bash league has been a huge success, and this is now being replicated in the UK; including free-to-air coverage. It has meant the top players internationally can play consistently at the top level (and at decent venues), as well as the associated growth in public interest.
Add to that, there is the sudden growth in the game in India. Who knows where that may lead? And if cricket is to become an Olympic sport other countries will want to hop on the bandwagon.
Suddenly, New Zealand will be playing host to a big international event, and one it probably hadn’t previously given a lot of thought to.
This is where the recent development of boutique cricket grounds around the country in order to host men’s events will come in handy. University, Bay, Cobham and Saxton Ovals have all had significant work done in the last five years and would be ideal for these matches. Eden Park 2, although completely bereft of any investment would also need to be involved.
And then there are the bigger yet still grass covered venues of Seddon Park, Hagley Oval and the Basin Reserve.
Although it would be crazy to assume the ICC would keep the same format across successive tournaments this year’s event had 28 pool games followed by three knock-out matches. That format would fit in well with the grouping of the grounds above.
There will be a couple of other factors to make scheduling even more fun. Given the boom in Indian viewership there will be a desire to host as many Day-Night matches as possible. Right now the only two grounds able to help out here are Seddon Park and MacLean Park (assuming it has dried out by then).
There has been talk from Dunedin and Mt Manganui to install lights, and this tournament could be just the incentive to get those over the line.
Assuming the Cup will be held in Feb / Mar 2021 there is likely to be the men’s team hosing some side at the same time, and they will want to use the same grounds.
That is a good problem to have. It’s less than four years away; bring it on.
Footnote: For a really interesting range of venues, look at the 1982 Hansells Vita Fresh Women’s World Cup. 15 venues, including Christ’s College, the Hutt Rec and Cooks Gardens. And what a belter of a pitch they had at Cornwall Park.