With a year to go for the ICC Women's T20 World Cup, Australia captain Meg Lanning and all-rounder Ellyse Perry reflected on the tournament's increased interest and its impact in recent years.
Australia, who won the 2018 edition of the tournament in the West Indies, will be heading into a home World Cup, which takes place from 21 February to 8 March next year, as the defending champions.
Perry believes that the success of last year's event, as well as that of the ICC Women's World Cup that preceded it in 2017, have elevated the tournament to beyond just a gimmick. "It's been pretty wonderful, particularly what's happened in the last couple of years in terms of the increased interest and coverage of women's sport, but also the way it's been covered and followed by fans," Perry said.
"It's not just the top level gimmicky thing anymore, it is very much about the performance of players and their incredible abilities as athletes. It just tells how entertaining a product this is.
"I guess to have an event like the T20 World Cup to showcase that next year on the Australia soil, and hopefully with the goals we are going to have for the tournament, it's going to be the biggest female event for sport probably ever held, which is pretty amazing."
Perry added that one of the goals for her team would be to reach out to the next generation, not only in Australia but all over the world.
1 year to go to the @ICC Women’s #T20WorldCup in Australia! To celebrate, @ahealy77 faces up to a ball dropped from above the MCG lights in a @GWR title attempt for the highest catch of a cricket ball! See it in full @ https://t.co/9BFoVKDlzL pic.twitter.com/UBc872fdGL— ICC T20 World Cup (@T20WorldCup) February 20, 2019
"Playing on Australian soil, showcasing the sport that we absolutely love, we work really hard towards it. As a group, we are incredibly proud of what we do both on and off the field. I hope that has a really great reach to the young boys and girls across the country, in particular to this event, and hopefully, it is across the world too.
"As an athlete, that's probably one of the most satisfying things. People enjoy watching you doing what you are doing, so I think to us it is really important."
Lanning, the Australia captain, said that if the previous summer was a busy one, the forthcoming one would be even bigger. "We thought this summer was pretty busy, but if we look ahead to the next one, that's massive," she said. "The T20 World Cup is always a good tournament to play, and especially being a home World Cup, it is certainly going to be very special, and the group is looking forward to the massive summer and the World Cup as well. The crowd has been growing every year."
Tickets are now on sale for the ICC Women's #T20WorldCup, meaning you can be a part of it! From the first game between Australia and India at Sydney Showground Stadium to the final on #IWD2020, adult tickets are available from A$20.— ICC T20 World Cup (@T20WorldCup) February 21, 2019
Playing the tournament on home soil, Lanning is aiming for nothing less than a final spot. "Look, I love the ambitious target for the final, and hopefully we can get there," she said. "The crowd in Australia loves a competitive sport, and I think this World Cup is going to be no different. Hopefully, it turns out the way we want it to and we hope that there's a really big crowd on the final day."