Australian women team would be looking for their record seventh title in ICC Women   s World Cup 2017    Getty Images
Australian women team would be looking for their record seventh title in ICC Women s World Cup 2017 Getty Images

Reigning champions Australia will be the team to beat when the 11th edition of the ICC Women’s World Cup (2017) gets under way in England this weekend. Led by Meg Lanning, the outstanding batsmen in the women’s game today, Australia will be looking to win their seventh title in a tournament that now features the world’s top eight one-day international sides. Australia also swept aside South Africa by 103 runs in a recent warm-up match. However, Lanning quoted that her side holds high standards for themselves and are eager to uphold it.

Meanwhile England, Australia’s perennial rivals in the women’s game, needed fewer than 28 overs to reach a meagre target of 131 against another fellow previous World Cup-winner in New Zealand. Organisers will hope that any rustiness has been chipped away come the start of the tournament proper and that there is a repeat of the excitement generated during last year’s women’s ICC World T20I in India.

“Our last global (women’s) event was won by the West Indies. I know that it’s easier to be more competitive in the T20I format than it is in the 50-over one, but I think this tournament will show the talent that is available out there,” International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Dave Richardson told during a conference call earlier in week.

A final at Lord’s on July 23 will mark the culmination of 31 matches also played at county grounds in Bristol, Derby, Leicester and Taunton. All the fixtures will be streamed live, with 10 broadcast on television in another sign of the growing global interest in women’s cricket.

Lanning, the only player to have hit 10 centuries in women’s ODIs, said that external pressure on Australia was as nothing compared to that generated by her squad as they look to follow up their success in India four years ago. We ve got pressure on ourselves to perform well, we hold ourselves to very high standards and we want to uphold them,” she explained.

Meanwhile West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor accepted her team needed a different approach compared to the one that served them so well in T20Is. When it comes to 50 overs, it s all about a different mindset. You have to be patient, it s a longer format, and you do have time , she stated.

Tournament hosts England and India, a team who’ve enjoyed success in English conditions in recent times, launch the competition in Derby on Saturday. New Zealand and Sri Lanka meet in Bristol on the same day,with Australia, Pakistan, South Africa and the West Indies all waiting in the wings.

England’s former skipper, Charlotte Edwards, who retired from international duty last year, said, “I don’t believe for one minute that England feel like getting to the semi-finals will be a success. They are more than capable of winning this tournament.” England will be bolstered by the return of talented wicket-keeper-batsman Sarah Taylor following a stress-related illness.