Georgetown gears up for Women's World Twenty20

Georgetown gears up for Women’s World Twenty20

GEORGETOWN: When you step off the tarmac and walk into the terminal at Cheddi Jagan international Airport, the first thing you see is a large poster featuring several captains of the women’s teams competing in the Women’s World T20, demanding that you ‘Watch-this’.

And for much of the 30-minute drive to the centre of Georgetown, reminders that the tournament kicks off here are as ubiquitous as the Guyanese flag or the pastel and white wooden clad houses.

The first standalone tournament of this type marks another important step in the progress of the women’s game. Mind you, it feels like there have been so many milestones, so many turning points in the past few years that it sometimes seems the game is galloping up a moving escalator. But some are climbing faster than others.

The Federation of International Cricketers Associations (FICA) recently released a report on women’s global employment – the first of its kind. The findings were both encouraging and a reminder of just how far the sport still has to go. But the most glaring observation is that there is a real danger of a widening gap between the haves and the have-nots.

There have always been a handful of countries – England, Australia and New Zealand in particular – who have dominated international cricket but the advent of professional contracts in Australia in 2013, followed by the launch of the

Women’s Big Bash League and the significant pay increases for female players announced in the 2017 Memorandum of Understanding, puts Australia in its own league. Some, such as England, India, West Indies, New Zealand and South Africa are classed as “fledgling professional”. Others are considered “amateur”. But what does that mean ahead of the opening day in Guyana?

Theoretically, Australia should be out-and-out smoking favourites for this tournament. Yet the side with the most resources and investment comes into the competition without any world titles in the cabinet, after losing the 2016 WT20 final to West Indies and failing to make last year’s World Cup Final in England.