Australia’s golden generation of cricketers has added more silverware to its already heaving trophy cabinet after knocking off tournament hosts South Africa by 19 runs to win the Women’s T20 World Cup final.
There have been some dominant teams in Australia over the decades, but this current crop of superstars might just be the best we’ve ever seen, with Monday morning’s triumph adding to the success they enjoyed last year when they won Commonwealth Games gold as well as the Ashes and 50-over World Cup.
It was also their third-straight T20 World Cup triumph and the sixth time they’ve won it out of the eight times it’s been held, although Katy Perry wasn’t on hand to help them celebrate this time.
“It’s very special,” player of the match Beth Mooney said.
“We haven’t had it all our own way this tournament, but it’s been incredible being here in South Africa.
“It’s a very special group.”
Australia’s 6/156 looked slightly short at the innings break, but some tight bowling had the hosts on the back foot from the outset and they never recovered.
“You guys are very annoying,” South African captain Sune Luus joked after her side’s seventh loss in a row to the Aussies.
“You have been inspiring the world of cricket for a very long time and I know a lot of players look up to you.”
The worry for the rest of the world is that, while they’re getting better, the Aussies are showing no signs of slowing down, with the WBBL unearthing an endless assembly line of future stars who can carry the torch once the veterans eventually retire.
But that might not be for another few years, and by then, the likes of Tahlia McGrath could be simply unstoppable – a scary thought given she’s already the number one batter in the world but was hardly sighted at this World Cup.
“We’ve been longing for this moment since the last World Cup,” player of the tournament Ashleigh Gardner said.
“I don’t think words can describe how proud I am.”
SIMPLY THE BETH
The rankings say she’s second, but Beth Mooney proved yet again she’s the best batter in world cricket right now, with her unbeaten 74 off 53 proving the difference on a deck which looked deceptively tricky.
Three years after she struck 78 not out in the final against India, Mooney became the first woman to hit two half-centuries in women’s T20 World Cup finals.
The leading run-scorer in WBBL history has a knack of delivering on the biggest stage, and while some of her teammates made starts, she made sure she finished the job after also playing a key role with 54 in the semi-final.
The Belinda Clark Award winner finished the tournament with 206 runs after managing just two in the first two matches, and she could dominate for many more years to come, with bowlers out of ideas on how to contain her.
“I’m glad I can fake it that much because I certainly wasn’t calm or collected out there,” Mooney said.
“I walked off thinking we hadn’t got enough on the board, but you can’t judge a wicket until both teams have batted on it. It was bloody tough out there.
“I was really disappointed with my output in the first couple of games, but the belief within the support staff that they have in me is unbelievable, so I knew I could turn it around at some point.”
VETERANS ON TARGET
There was some sloppy ground fielding mixed in with a few run outs, but in the end a couple of Australia’s most reliable servants held their nerve with the ball to see off South Africa’s valiant run chase.
The hosts recovered from a wobbly start, with Laura Wolvaardt (61) and Chloe Tryon (25) adding 55 for the fourth wicket to give them a sniff.
Wolvaardt’s knock saw her become the leading run-scorer for the tournament, but her dismissal in the 17th over ended their hopes when Megan Schutt showed why she’s Australia’s leading T20 international wicket taker of all time to trap her in front.
Tryon tried valiantly to keep them in the contest with a big six off Jonassen, but the veteran spinner got her revenge two balls later to seal the deal in her 100th T20 for Australia after being recalled for the semi-final.
“I thought once I was out, that was sort of it,” the spinner said.
“My job was to keep everyone hydrated and be up and about on the sidelines.”
SOUTH AFRICA ON THE UP
They controversially axed one of their greatest players before the World Cup started, they were then stunned by Sri Lanka in the tournament opener and had to claw their way into the finals.
So you can understand why veteran Marizanne Kapp’s emotions got the better of her as she burst into tears during the South African anthem before play.
This is a country which has notoriously faltered in semi-finals in both men’s and women’s World Cups, but the future looks bright for the Proteas after reaching the decider on home soil.
It was fitting that Kapp (2/35) got the first breakthrough when she removed former Sixers teammate Alyssa Healy to have the crowd on its feet, but the bowlers didn’t have much joy until Shabnim Ismail found herself on a hat-trick in the final over.
“It’s been such an incredible tournament to be a part of,” Wolvaardt said.
“To experience this has been once in a lifetime.”