2022 Commonwealth Games: Australia legend Belinda Clark lauds inclusion of women’s T20s for Birmingham
The Southern Stars have a chance to add a CWG gold medal to their kitty. © AFP

Australian cricket icon Belinda Clark believes that the inclusion of T20 cricket at the 2022 Commonwealth Games is a shot in the arm for women’s cricket.

Cricket is one of three new events added to the Birmingham Commonwealth Games – alongside beach volleyball and para table-tennis – and marks the return of the sport to the quadrennial extravaganza after 21 years.

Back in 1998, South Africa won gold in a men’s 50-over format competition at the CWG in Kuala Lumpur.

(READ: Women’s T20 cricket included for 2022 Commonwealth Games)

Clark, who captained Australia Women to the World Cup title in 2005 and is currently Cricket Australia’s Executive General Manager of Community Cricket, felt the timing of cricket returning to the Commonwealth Games is right.

belinda clark 229
Belinda Clark scored 229* from 155 balls against Denmark in 1997. © Getty

“This is a wonderful opportunity for the game’s talented female athletes to showcase their skills on the world stage,” she said. “Already this year we have seen a sell-out crowd for the Women’s Big Bash League Final and strong television ratings across the WBBL followed by great crowds and live coverage of the Ashes in England.”

(READ: Ellyse Perry is the greatest female cricketer of all time: Charlotte Edwards)

The Birmingham Commonwealth Games run from July 27 to August 7, 2022 and will see 4,500 athletes competing at across 18 sports. In the women’s T20 cricket discipline, eight teams will compete across eight match days at the Edgbaston cricket ground.

The Southern Stars – Australia’s women’s cricket team – recently retained the points-based, multi-format Ashes series against England. In November 2018, they won the ICC Women’s World T20 in the West Indies.

In 2020, Australia will defend that crown at home. The final of the ICC T20 World Cup is scheduled for March 8, 2020 which is International Women’s Day on March 8.

Australia women cricket team
Australia are defending champions of the ICC Women’s World T20. © AFP

“This is an exciting time for the sport and the impact on the next generation is obvious, with girls making up six out of 10 new participants in Australia,” Clark said. “The exposure will become even greater when Australia hosts the Women’s Twenty20 World Cup early next year.”

Clark, 48, once held the record for most matches as captain in women’s cricket. In 101 games as captain of Australia, Clarke lost only 17. In 1997 she became the first cricketer, male or female, to score 200 in ODI cricket. Her score of 229 not out, achieved against Denmark in Mumbai, was broken in 2018 by New Zealander Amelia Kerr.

Her women’s ODI tally of 4844 runs was also a record.