But that will be the case on Sunday, when the holders, Australia, attempt to defend their title against England, winners of the inaugural Women’s World Twenty20 in 2009.
New Zealand have been the third wheel in recent times, losing to Australia in the Caribbean in 2010 and England at Lord’s a year earlier, but they fell at the semi-final stage at this tournament, denied the shot at an inglorious hat-trick. They became England’s fourth scalp in a row, with Charlotte Edwards’ team having already beaten Australia in their dead-rubber group game.
England arrived at the World T20 on the back of their first 20-over defeat in 20 completed matches. The run that began after losing to Australia in January 2011 was ended by West Indies last month but, since then, England’s sense of invincibility has been reinvigorated. Katherine Brunt’s thrifty new-ball spells and England’s four spinners – with 16 wickets between them – have thrived on slow Sri Lankan pitches. Their batting is lead by three of the five leading run-scorers in the tournament in Edwards, Sarah Taylor and Laura Marsh.
Australia are not without good form or star players either. Their record of played 14, won 11 in 2012 is second only to England’s (who have won 17 out of 18) and the likes of Lisa Sthalekar, ranked the No. 1 bowler in the world, Julie Hunter, the leading wicket-taker in Sri Lanka, and Ellyse Perry form part of a formidable attack. The batting may not have fired in quite the same way but you can be sure that Jodie Fields’ side will be all stoked up for a clash with the old enemy.
Any fixture between these two countries comes with the obligatory Ashes tag, which will add spice to a showpiece that is also a scene setter, ahead of the men’s final between Sri Lanka and West Indies. After a gap of 24 years, this one should offer compelling viewing all on its own.
(Most recent first, completed matches)
Watch out for…
Charlotte Edwards may get fewer headlines these days, thanks to the impish brilliance of Sarah Taylor with bat and gloves, but her presence at the top of the order is still of immeasurable importance for England. The all-time leading run-scorer in the format, she also heads the standings at the 2012 World T20 and her ability to hit down the ground against spin gives her one up on most of England’s male batsmen. Her battle with Ellyse Perry could set the tone.
Julie Hunter may have torn up West Indies with a five-for during Australia’s semi-final win but it was Lisa Sthalekar who presented them gift-wrapped and ready for destruction, opening the bowling with her offspin and conceding just six runs from four overs. Australia’s No. 4, she is also a good enough batsman to be ranked in the world’s top ten. At 33, Sthalekar is four months older than Edwards and further proof that T20 isn’t just for the kids.
After convincing semi-final victories for both sides there would seem little need to change barring injury or illness.
Australia (probable) 1 Meg Lanning, 2 Alyssa Healy, 3 Jess Cameron, 4 Lisa Sthalekar, 5 Alex Blackwell, 6 Jodie Fields (capt & wk), 7 Rachael Haynes, 8 Julie Hunter, 9 Ellyse Perry, 10 Jess Jonassen, 11 Erin Osborne
England (probable) 1 Charlotte Edwards (capt), 2 Laura Marsh, 3 Sarah Taylor (wk), 4 Lydia Greenway, 5 Arran Brindle, 6 Danni Wyatt, 7 Jenny Gunn, 8 Katherine Brunt, 9 Anya Shurbsole, 10 Danielle Hazell, 11 Holly Colvin
Pitch and conditions
The pitch was looking similar to one prepared for the second semi-final, which did hold together better than the surface on Thursday. Spin will still play a key part but don’t rule out Katherine Brunt or Ellyse Perry enjoying some success. They are the outstanding pace bowlers in the women’s game. This semi-final will be played in the scorching heat of the afternoon although both sides are now acclimatised.
Stats and trivia
- Lisa Sthalekar four-over spell for six runs in the semi-final was the second most economical by an Australian in Twenty20 behind Sarah Coyte’s 4 for 5 from four overs against India at Billericay in 2011.
- The head-to-head between the two teams in T20s stands at 8-4 in England’s favour, although it is strictly 8-5 because Australia won the one tied game between the sides in a Super Over, which came in the previous World Twenty20.
- When these sides last met in a global final, at the 1988 World Cup, England made 127 in 60 overs batting first. That’s the sort of score whoever bats first in this final will like to reach in 20.
“It’s never an easy feat to come through semi-finals, we had to play West Indies who have improved immensely. It was a really good team performance. So we are really excited to get another chance to play England.”
“Two years ago, it was a really disappointing tournament for us. I’m really proud of the way the girls have come back. We’re peaking at the right time.”