Women's Cricket: Five-team tournament to decide final qualifier for Commonwealth Games 2022
Kuala Lumpur, January 17, 2022
Bangladesh, Kenya, Malaysia, Scotland and Sri Lanka will compete in five-team tournament beginning in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow to decide the final qualifier for the women's cricket event in the Commonwealth Games 2022 Birmingham.
The winner will join the seven teams that have already qualified for Birmingham -- Australia, Barbados, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa.
The ICC Commonwealth Games Qualifier 2022, a round-robin T20 tournament -- will commence with a match between Bangladesh and Malaysia and will see Bangladesh and Sri Lanka face off on the last day.
England and six other highest-ranked ICC Members in the MRF Tyres ICC Women’s T20I Team Rankings as of 1 April 2021 qualified directly for the Commonwealth Games, with the slot for the West Indies going to Barbados since athletes from the Caribbean will be representing their countries and not the West Indies (as they are affiliated with the ICC). Barbados were nominated by Cricket West Indies (CWI) on the basis of their win in the 2019 CWI T20 Blaze Tournament.
Women’s cricket will be part of the Commonwealth Games for the first time ever in what is seen as a huge opportunity to take the game to new fans. It will only be the second time that cricket will feature in it after a men’s competition was part of the Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.
Bangladesh captain Niger Sultana has the chance of leading her team into the Birmingham Games to cap a fine year that has already seen them qualify for the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand in March-April.
“We are very confident. It was not easy for us to return to competitive cricket after the disruptions of training and matches because of Covid-19. However, we are well prepared now, having played in different conditions during the past few months," she said.
“I think our middle-order batting has been excellent in recent times. As this is a T20 tournament, I am expecting the opening batters to get us off to quick starts. We have experienced campaigners to compliment the youthful exuberance in our team. It’s going to be a combined effort from all of us if we do well here," she added.
Sri Lanka captain Chamari Athapaththu feels it is vital for their team to win the tournament after having missed qualifying for the 50-over World Cup.
“Apart from the World Cup, the Commonwealth Games (cricket competition) is the other major tournament to be held in 2022. Obviously, it won't wipe out the disappointment of missing out on the World Cup but will give us some amount of solace.
“We have a very good chance of winning this tournament and qualifying for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. We have experienced players as well as talented youngsters in our side, with the likes of Harsitha Samarawickrama and Kavisha Dilhari the ones to look out for," she said.
Scotland captain Kathryn Bryce understands that it won’t be easy for her team but is still aiming to win the Qualifier.
“Every time we go into a tournament the main objective is to try and win. There’s only one qualification spot available, so we know it’s going to be a challenging task coming up against the likes of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh who’ve been near the top of the world stage for a long time now. They have a lot of experience but we’re looking forward to testing ourselves against them.
“It’s been a challenging build-up with COVID-19 still affecting things, but we’ve managed to get together as a squad to train together regularly. We’ve been indoors over the winter period, but I think there have been some good camps during the preparation and I’ve seen some good progression, so I believe we’ll be ready for the tournament.
“There are lots of players in the team who are starting to stand up and as a team we’re not really relying on a small number of people anymore which is really exciting to see. Obviously, Abtaha Maqsood has a really big summer playing in The Hundred and I think her quality will hopefully come through and has the potential to win us some matches," she said.
Kenya captain Margaret Ngoche wants to make the most of the opportunity of playing against teams like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
“We want to utilize and maximize all the opportunities that will come our way in terms of experience and talent showcasing. We want to interact with other teams with the aim of building a great cricketing network and learn more from them. We want to ensure that we are among the top teams, and we are coming with a winning mentality.
“We know that this is a tournament like we have never experienced before. We will be playing with teams that have played in the World Cup. One of our major weapons is our mental capacity and experience that we have gathered through the years. The training and practice matches are just a way to polish the already effective tools that we possess. We have really invested in our mental capacity, because our 100% is better than the rest," Ngoche said.
Malaysia captain Winifred Anne Duraisingam is hoping to gain the edge from familiar home conditions.
“It feels good to play hosts after not being able to play the last two years. Malaysia is blessed with good weather and of course our hospitality and food will, I hope, be a great experience for the teams coming in.
“In terms of advantage, we are certainly comfortable as we know the ground conditions and we hope this will give us an edge as we do our best. Without a doubt the strength of our team is in fielding and bowling. We are currently hard at work with our batting and we can see the improvements.
“Kinrara Oval has hosted many international tournaments including ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2008, the Women’s Asia Cup and many other ICC and ACC (Asian Cricket Council) events. The pitch is very lively and is good for both batting and bowling," she said.
Match schedule (local time):
18 Jan: Malaysia vs Bangladesh (09h30); Sri Lanka vs Scotland (13h15)
19 Jan: Kenya vs Bangladesh (09h30); Scotland vs Malaysia (13h15)
20 Jan: Kenya vs Sri Lanka (09h30)
22 Jan: Scotland vs Kenya (09h30); Sri Lanka vs Malaysia (13h15)
23 Jan: Bangladesh vs Scotland (09h30); Malaysia vs Kenya (13h15)
24 Jan: Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka (09h30)