Women’s team salvaged cricket in Australia after sandpaper gate

The ICC World Cup is just weeks away and marks the highly anticipated returns to international cricket of disgraced former captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner from their 12-month suspensions.

The infamous ‘sandpaper gate’ scandal during the Cape Town Test in March of last year was a dark period for Australian sport, with an independent review into the toxic culture not just within the men’s national cricket team, but the entire Cricket Australia organisation.

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You’ll notice in the review not much is mentioned in regards to the women’s team, and why would there be?

They’ve achieved much on-field success and have been terrific ambassadors for the spirit of the game.

Instead of allowing themselves to be dragged through the mud by association with the men’s team, they’ve led by example with their on-field performances by competing fairly and in the right spirit.

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One glaring difference compared to their male counterparts is the utmost professionalism and humility they show both on-and-off the field and the success that has followed.

Clean sweep series victories against New Zealand and Pakistan last October was the perfect preparation for their incredible 2018 T20 World Cup triumph.

The Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) followed during summer which provided many close matches and unearthed several talented young players.

The incredible finishes to the WBBL semi-finals matches, both which came down to the last-ball, left fans stunned as the Brisbane Heat and Sydney Sixers claimed miracle wins to qualify for the final, which the Heat went on to win.

Australia capped off the summer as they again dominated New Zealand with another clean sweep ODI series win.

The Aussie women have a busy 12-month schedule ahead including an Ashes tour against England in July, followed by tours to the West Indies and Sri Lanka, back home again for next summer’s WBBL and back-to-back T20 series’ against India and England before their T20 World Cup title defence at home next March, before finishing with a tour to South Africa for an ODI series.

Women’s cricket continues to be a major part in the prominent growth of women’s sports in Australia.

The likes of Ellyse Perry, Meg Lanning and Alyssa Healy are now household names. They are world-class international cricketers and role models we can be proud of.

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Junior participation figures show they’re inspiring an entire generation of girls to pick up a bat and ball and aspire and to play cricket for Australia.

There are now pathways to the elite level with newly formed girl’s teams and girl’s competitions.

Women’s cricket is now drawing big crowds and TV ratings because fans want to see elite athletes perform and succeed at the elite level, as Australia are currently number one in the women’s ODI and T20 team rankings.

The women’s game is as healthy as ever, whereas the men’s team are still in the midst of repairing their culture and identity, as well as earning back the public’s support.

The Ethics Centre (TEC) handed down a total of 42 recommendations into the culture of Australian cricket, which anyone who read the review would consider the recommendations as common sense solutions.

But instead of conducting a six-month review, perhaps it would have been easier for the men’s team, Cricket Australia, Smith and Warner to simply watch and learn from how the women’s team conduct themselves both collectively and individually.

Ultimately cricket fans want all of our cricketers, men and women, to represent our country with honour and distinction and with the returns of a reformed Smith and Warner back into the national setup, the future of Australian cricket starts with the upcoming World Cup.

Featured Image: Peter Woodard