I’m not a fan of the Super Six format that cricket administrators seem so fond of. It’s always seemed like an unnecessary stage too far – why make teams go through a second qualifying group if they’ve already proved themselves? Sides that have scraped through are already at a massive disadvantage in any case as points are carried forward from group matches so they have little chance of making the semi-finals.
Of course, money is at the heart of the matter. More matches mean bigger TV revenue and extra gate money, though how the Indian public will take to the Womens World Cup is anybody’s guess. Early ticket sales aren’t exactly encouraging but when organisers were still deciding venues and schedule a week before the tournament began, that’s no real surprise.
There are eight teams taking part in India but, realistically, there should only be two, possibly three, countries to consider. The hosts are just 13/2 with Coral and Paddy Power but don’t score quickly enough to warrant serious consideration and home advantage will count for little in empty stadiums. New Zealand did beat England in their final warm-up game and should carry four points into the Super Sixes but that’s probably where their luck will end and the Kiwis make equally little appeal at the general 7/1 while consistency has always been a problem for the West Indies. Spinner Anisa Mohammed should revel in conditions while Stafanie Taylor is the best all-rounder in the world at present but, if either fail, the Windies will find themselves in terrible trouble which is why last year’s T20 semi-finalists are 40/1 to win the Womens World Cup with most bookmakers.
England and Australia dominate the betting and the women’s game as a whole and there seems no reason why they won’t be contesting this year’s final in Mumbai. England are the favourites (11/10 with Stan James) despite losing out to their old rivals in last year’s T20 final. But there really is nothing to choose between the sides on recent form, both teams having won 10 of their last 20 meetings at the highest level. There are still eight of the England squad who won the tournament in 2009 playing in India and their experience will help out the youngsters. But the Aussies also have an experienced line-up and potential match-winners in Ellyse Perry and Meg Lanning. At 9/4 with bet365, Coral and Stan James, the green and golds have to be the selection.