By Jill Scanlon
It’s just under a fortnight until the ICC World Twenty20 (also known as the World Cup) hits off and already there is debate over who will win the hearts and minds of the world’s cricket fans and who will set the media in a frenzy with the mixture of talent, colourful characters and heated sledging all in a melting pot that will be India through the month of March.
The 2016 World Cup is easy to lay out in numbers http://www.icc-cricket.com/world-t20/about : it is a combined tournament hosting both the Men’s and Women’s fixtures across 27 days of competition with 26 teams (16 Men’s and 10 Women’s) from 16 countries all vying to etch their names in history.
But it’s the stories behind the numbers that paint the picture.
For the Australian teams, there is the same goal but for very different reasons.
The Women are aiming for a fourth consecutive title in this relatively young competition having dominated it almost since its inception, with England taking out the inaugural tournament in 2009.
The Men’s tournament began two years earlier and has seen five previous competitions contested with five separate victors. Australia has never won but was the runner up in 2010 to arch rivals England -- it’s the only trophy the Men’s team has not yet managed to add to its impressive cabinet.
The Indian Women’s team will be just as keen as their male counterparts for a win on home soil and looking to capitalise on recent hit outs against both England and Australia; while the England teams will be looking to make a statement having both won the T20 World Cup before, but not for a few years and only once each.
In the Men’s competition, an initial Group stage contest is played out between eight teams from the ICC Tier 2 nations which have qualified to play-off for the right for two of them to join what is known as the Super group – the world’s leading cricket nations.
While some experts dismiss these preliminary matches in the World Cup as superfluous to proceedings, it is always intriguing to see how well the developing cricket nations are doing -- and upsets do happen.
In the Women’s competition, while Australia has stamped its dominance on international cricket in all forms over recent times, many of its opponents can still take a game right up to the champions on any day as has been recently proven by India and New Zealand and all are looking to steal the mantle of supremacy, even in just one format, from the reigning queens of cricket.
But will Southern Stars captain Meg Lanning be the fly in the ointment of opponents as she continues to amaze the cricket world with her talent and leadership at just 23 years of age, having this week helped the Southern Stars secure the Rose Bowl (Australia v New Zealand ODI trophy) for a 16th consecutive year capping off the series with an individual knock of 127 in the final ODI game.
India presents itself as a host country with many attractions; a vibrant culture, challenging playing conditions in both weather and pitches, but most of all in the home crowd support that will be in full voice at all eight venues dotted around the cricket-mad country http://www.icc-cricket.com/world-t20/venues .
The oppressive heat often experienced by visiting teams on the sub-continent will not be such a factor as March usually has ‘cooler’ temperatures from mid-twenties to low thirties -- all relative really depending whether you’re from West Indies or from Scotland.
For lovers of cricket – in any format – March is destined to be a month of action, colour, records and even upsets which will settle many a debate over supremacy while initiating many more.
Head to cricket.com.au for more info on the fixture and where to WATCH.