Australia strong favourites, but will expectation derail them?

Will Australia be doing this again on March 8? ICC/Getty


Australia are again the powerhouse of the women's game after a two-year period where they have taken their performances to a new level following the disappointment at the 2017 50-over World Cup in England when they fell at the semi-finals with Harmanpreet Kaur playing one of the greatest innings in World Cup history. They have a squad chock full of allrounders - a significant tactical switch over the last few months with coach Matthew Mott believing specialist batters in the middle order did not have enough chance to make an impact in T20 - and a bowling attack with plenty of variety, from the point-of-difference pace of Tayla Vlaeminck to the sharply-spun leg-breaks of Georgia Wareham. However, they were inconsistent during the T20I tri-series against England and India with three key top-order players - Meg Lanning, Ellyse Perry and especially Alyssa Healy - not having the returns that would be expected. That tournament was their toughest challenge for a considerable period of time having swept away West Indies and Sri Lanka, so it could end up being viewed as a timely test. And, ultimately, they still found a way to win which in tournament play can be vital.


Meg Lanning (capt), Rachael Haynes, Erin Burns, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy (wk), Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham (Coach: Matthew Mott)

Group fixtures

February 21: India, Sydney Showground

February 24: Sri Lanka, WACA

February 27: Bangladesh, Canberra

March 2: New Zealand, Melbourne

T20 World Cup history

Australia have dominated the event. Four-times champions, and the current holders, they have only once not reached the final - in the inaugural tournament in 2009. Between 2010 and 2014 they won a hat-trick of titles before being tripped by West Indies in 2016.

Form guide

Their Super Over defeat against England in Canberra was their first misstep since the final T20I in England last year - by when the Ashes were well and truly decided - and they were then overturned by India who again showed what can be achieved by taking the game to Australia. Since the start of 2018, they have won 26 of their 31 T20Is with their only defeats coming against India and England who are considered the closest challengers for the title.

Key players

Meg Lanning is an impressive leader and outstanding batter, the former quality may well be tested at times during the tournament if the team hits any bumps along the way. If she is holding aloft the trophy at the MCG it will be a defining moment of her career. Tayla Vlaeminck will vie for the tag of the quickest bowler at the tournament and has the ability to ruffle opposition with the short ball. Alyssa Healy had two prolific seasons in 2018 and 2019 but hit the buffers in the T20I tri-series with five single-figure scores. Australia will hope her runs are being saved for when it really matters.

What would be a success at the tournament?

Nothing beyond victory. Few teams across any global event have quite carried the expectation that Australia have heading into this competition, with so much pinned on their progression at least to the final at the MCG where it is hoped a new crowd record for a female sporting event will be set. Lanning and Mott are balancing the need to embrace that pressure and keep a perspective on things, but it may yet be a factor other teams can exploit if things get tight.