Six names to watch at the ICC Women’s World Cup this month

With the ICC Women’s World Cup underway, expect some of the best names in the circuit to star in New Zealand, and here are six of the players SWL thinks could take their country all the way.

Marizanne Kapp – South Africa

Since her debut in 2009, Marizanne Kapp has become known for tormenting batters across the circuit. 

It’s because her skills are second to none.

The South African’s combination of swing and pace, added to a cricketing intelligence from her years in the game, sees many top-orders crumble when faced with her fast-bowling. 

In 2013, she became the third woman to take a T20I hat-trick, but that tells half the story of her importance, not only to her country, but also to franchises across the globe. 

This year, Kapp lifted The Hundred and The Big Bash titles with the Oval Invincibles and the Perth Scorchers respectively and was Player of the Match in both competitions’ finals.

Against the Southern Brave, quick wickets at the top started a spell that finished with a piercing yorker past Lauren Bell and into leg-stump.

It was brutal.

For South Africa she is the stalwart.

With exactly 200 international wickets to her name, it is a testament to her all-round quality that her country need her batting just as much. 

Kapp’s 102* against Pakistan in 2013 remains the highest score by a South African at Women’s World Cups. 

Now with Dane van Niekerk missing the tournament, after fracturing her ankle, expect Kapp to step up to the challenge.

The pressure shouldn’t be an issue, however – when the spotlight is on Kapp, she produces her best. 

Stafanie Taylor – West Indies

It is some effort being captain, batter, and bowler – but somehow Stafanie Taylor thrives as all three.

Alongside her highly-regarded off-spin, Taylor starred at the South Brave last summer and she is the prized wicket in a side she led to a World Cup win in 2016 as Player of the Tournament.

Here, she hit 246 runs, including a vital 59 in the West Indies shock victory in the final over Australia, and also picked up eight wickets. 

The fastest woman to 3000 T20I runs has hit seven hundreds across her career.

In ODIs, she averaged 45.5 with the bat and 21.5 with the ball. It’s some record.

Taylor wasn’t the star of the show as the West Indies stunned New Zealand in the tournament opener, but her 30 off 47 was a solid contribution.

Now, even in her 15th year on the international stage, Taylor remains the reason the West Indies could cause more shocks in New Zealand.

Sophie Ecclestone – England 

Second-favourites England know they have a gem in their bowling armory. 

Sophie Ecclestone’s left-arm off-spin is known for accuracy and economy, but in Australia she struggled as the hosts secured the Ashes.

Still, she is far more at home with the white ball, and a relatively poor Ashes tour shouldn’t detract from her importance to England’s chances.

Throughout a short international career, Eccelstone has excelled.

The Evertonian made her debut aged 17, and by 22 she was ranked as the best T20I bowler in the world. 

In New Zealand though, Ecclestone thrives.

Here, she averages 10.20 in T20 matches and the pressure she builds at one end will be vital if England can go all the way. 

Amelia Kerr – New Zealand

Amelia Kerr missed a large part of 2021 due to mental health but has reaffirmed her role in New Zealand’s top-order since her return. 

The talented all-rounder has been labelled as a star of the future, and it is a tag she richly deserves.

Aged 17, Kerr hit the highest score in a Women’s ODI, becoming the youngest player to score a double-century in international cricket.

She also finished as New Zealand’s joint-highest wicket-taker at the 2017 World Cup, with ten wickets in six matches.

Ahead of the 2022 edition, Leigh Kasperek’s absence does suggest that Kerr will play a bigger role with the ball. 

But that isn’t a problem, with Kerr continuing to show herself as an out and out all-rounder. Having developed a decent googly over the past couple of years she took a triple-wicket maiden on her Big Bash debut.

Over the next few weeks, her knack for picking up wickets will prove crucial as the host country looks to cause an upset against those visiting their own patch.

There is no question Kerr has all the talent to become one of the tournament’s leading names.

In a warm-up match this week, she smashed an unbeaten 92 as New Zealand chased 322 in 43.1 overs against pre-tournament favourites Australia.

Talk about setting the tone.

Kerr faltered with the bat in New Zealand’s opening defeat, scoring just 13 runs off 19 balls, but her contribution with the ball was excellent, as she conceded just 33 runs off her ten overs, as well as dismissing Shemaine Campbelle and also securing a run out.

Tahlia McGrath – Australia

It is some show of support if your country’s willing to drop Ellyse Perry for you. 

But Tahlia McGrath repaid the selectors’ faith quickly, as her fourth T20I appearance unfolded like a walk in the park.

The Australian’s unbeaten 91 off just 49 balls swept England’s total aside in the Ashes opener, and left everyone talking about McGrath, rather than the player she had replaced.

That in itself is some achievement.

But aside from moving out of Perry’s shadow, her innings brought something Australia needed.

This was different, a knock that was not only destructive but powerful.

It was on set on power-hitting – something that despite all Australia’s talents, they arguably lack in their lower-middle order.

But better still, McGrath had also taken three wickets by the time she walked out to bat. It wasn’t a bad day out at all. 

And yet, despite her achievements in the Ashes, such is the strength of Australia that McGrath will have to do something incredible to stand out amongst her teammates, let alone the tournament itself. 

Australia have two T20 World Cup to their names since their semi-final exit at the last 50-over tournament.

This year it has always felt like Australia’s to lose, but now, with McGrath in their ranks, Meg Lanning’s side should walk it.

Shafali Verma – India

Shafali Verma has all the audacity, confidence, and talent to become one of the very best, but this World Cup could be her stage.

There is no doubt the talent is there, as the 18-year-old held her own against someone twice her age when she went toe-to-toe with England stalwart Kathrine Brunt last summer.

After being dismissed off Brunt’s first ball of the series, she returned to hit five successive boundaries when she next faced the England seamer. 

It’s what we’ve come to expect from her though.

Alongside Smriti Mandhana, Verma is likely to lead the charge – and her attacking style means she won’t hang around for long.

She strikes at 141 in T20s and no batter has made more runs since her debut or hit more sixes. 

It is important to remember that she is still learning her trade.

Verma made her ODI debut in June, but has now cemented her place in a batting line-up strong enough to leave Jemimah Rodrigues at home.

Now she has to justify that faith.

You can read the rest of SWL’s World Cup coverage here.

Featured Image Credits: Bradley-John Watling via Wikimedia Commons under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license

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