Ahead of this year’s Women’s Cricket World Cup Australia are the overwhelming favourites, and the question is, how do you beat the unbeatable?
Well, just ask New Zealand’s Sophie Devine and Amelia Kerr and they’ll tell you straight.
On a cool and breezy day in Christchurch, the Kiwi pair struck 206 to chase down Australia’s 321 with 41 balls to spare in their final warm-up match ahead of the ongoing Cricket World Cup.
However, look through the history books and you’ll find results of that magnitude are few and far between – unless it’s Australia with a W against their name.
Other than a narrow two-wicket loss to India where only three balls remained in the match, Australia last tasted defeat in an ODI way back in October 2017 against England.
Both have been the third rubber of a three-game series, and even in the latter, Heather Knight’s side were aided by the English weather and the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method.
Australia truly are the queens of One-Day International (ODI) cricket.
Since that defeat four and a half years ago, they have also only lost nine T20 internationals, underlining their confidence when playing with a white ball – bagging two T20 World Cups in the process.
Much to the dismay of their rivals, Australia’s dominance doesn’t look like it will be coming to an end anytime soon.
They host the best T20 domestic competition in the women’s game, the Big Bash League, and the production line of young, talented and self-assured cricketers primed for the biggest stage is clear to see.
It was very apt that in this winter’s Ashes, which England lost 12-4.
Just as Meg Lanning’s side slightly opened the door to allow the tourists back into the series, an 18-year old South Australian stepped up and shut down any chance of it unfolding.
With the series score at 6-4, Australia had posted a feeble 205 from their 50 overs in the first of three ODIs.
Enter Darcie Brown.
The Adelaide Strikers seamer took a four-fer, including the scalps of Tammy Beaumont, Heather Knight and Nat Sciver to steal a 27-run victory that retained the urn.
Brown finished with 4-34 from her ten overs, and she wasn’t the only young gun on show.
Annabel Sutherland, 20, took the most wickets in the one-off Test match, and another all-rounder Tahlia McGrath – with only 19 international caps to her name – was dubbed Player of the Series after picking up the most wickets in both the ODI and T20I series as well as topping the run-scoring charts in the T20s.
What’s most impressive is their ability to perform on the international scene so quickly – two classic examples of Australia producing cricketers ready-made for the top level.
These youngsters are the stars of the present, but the veteran presence isn’t too shabby either – Alyssa Healy, Ellyse Perry and Beth Mooney have just under 12,000 white-ball runs between them.
The Aussies have started the tournament as they mean to go on – defeating England by 12 runs in a thriller on Saturday morning.
Their next test will come tomorrow morning at 1am, as they face Pakistan.
However, there is hope for the rest of the competitors, as Australia are not the defending champions.
Had they beaten India in the semi-finals of the last World Cup back in 2017, a final against England at Lord’s and a shot at a seventh title was on the cards.
Instead, Harmanpreet Kaur’s 171 ensured they boarded their plane early, succumbing to a dominant Indian display in Derbyshire.
An angry beast is a dangerous one and Australia have certainly used that pain from five years ago to good effect.
Winning is a great habit but, to be greats of the game, medals around the neck are what really matter.
After heartbreak in 2017, are Lanning’s team destined to find themselves in seventh heaven come the final on 3 April?
It is really hard to argue against it.