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A crowning glory


A crowning glory

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FOR MANY, the women’s World Twenty20 final is nothing more than a side attraction to the main event.

For those involved, however, it will be just as special as the men’s final.

Trans-Tasman rivals Australia and New Zealand will meet at 4 p.m., an hour and a half after the scheduled finish of the men’s showpiece, with the possibility that many fans might have been satisfied with the events of the first half of the day and expecting nothing exciting to come.

Rival captains Alex Blackwell of Australia and Aimee Watkins of New Zealand are, however, assuring fans that they could be in for a treat.

“The standard of cricket that all teams have played throughout the tournament means that it is going to be a great match to watch,” Blackwell said.

“Whoever is going to stay around after the men’s match, I’m sure they will see some brilliant hitting and some great spectacles in the field. There have been some excellent catches taken.

“The standard of women’s cricket has improved and [it] is actually a very good game to watch.”

While the women’s game has lacked the global television exposure, many of those who watched the semi-finals and final of the 2009 tournament in England painted an impressive picture of the potential the ladies had to offer.

Some leading English journalists were moved to rate the women’s semi-final between England and Australia as the match of the entire World Twenty20 Championship.

“The men’s game is going to be the highlight for some, but for us the women’s game is going to be the highlight,” Watkins said. “I’m sure a few will hang around and see what women’s cricket has got to offer. It has improved vastly over the last 12 to 18 months.”

Both Australia and New Zealand have come to the final with unbeaten records, making it difficult to predict a winner.

Australia’s Twenty20 record leading into the tournament wasn’t anything to shout about, but they achieved successive wins against 2009 champions England, West Indies, South Africa, and India to book their place at Kensington.

New Zealand, runners-up in last year’s event, have been very convincing in beating India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and West Indies. The close proximity of the two countries and their long-standing rivalry promises to make the match even more special.

“We have a good rivalry over the past 30 or 40 years. It makes it special to meet in a World Cup final,” Blackwell said. “It’s that edge, considering that we know each other so well and our games inside out.”

Her counterpart echoed her views.

“Considering that it’s the two form teams going into the final, it is really fitting. It’s going to be an excellent match,” Watkins predicted. “It’s a great rivalry between our two countries and it’s going to be very hard-fought.”