Overview of the tournament and format
The Women’s World Cup is set to get underway from the 4th of March, 2022. The tournament will take place across six venues in New Zealand. Its format resembles the one used by the ICC for the Men’s World Cup in 2019: the eight teams taking part in the tournament shall play every other team, after which the top four teams will play the semi-finals. The winners of the semi-finals will then play for the Women’s World Cup trophy in the final.
The eight teams taking part in the tournament are: India, Australia, New Zealand, England, South Africa, Pakistan, the West Indies and Bangladesh.
Predictions for the Tournament
Before picking the most obvious choices to win the World Cup, a large part of why certain teams could be favourites in the tournament is a result of the conditions the teams will find in New Zealand. The pitches and the weather in New Zealand assist seamers and help those who are used to playing in seaming conditions. Off the bat, the teams that come to mind suited to such conditions include New Zealand, England, and South Africa.
Probably the favourites to take the World Cup home are the current holders, England. They are going into this World Cup with a good run of form. They hosted India and New Zealand in 2021 and resoundingly beat both of them. They also beat New Zealand in New Zealand in September 2021. Given the similarity in conditions, and the fact that England are in a good run of form in ODIs, they are indeed favourites to win the World Cup.
Like England, South Africa have had quite some success in ODI cricket of late. The South African pitches assist seamers, which will undoubtedly help the team in New Zealand. South Africa are also second in the ODI rankings. In 2021, South Africa beat both India and the West Indies in ODI series and will, therefore, have momentum in their favour as they head into the World Cup. Although not in pole position, you can bet on South Africa to have a good World Cup campaign.
Being the hosts of the World Cup already puts the White Ferns in quite a good position to have a strong World Cup. Apart from the familiar conditions, New Zealand have just thrashed India at home in a five-match ODI series. This year, they have played mostly at home and in England, which is the right kind of preparation they would want heading into the World Cup. Once more, although not in pole position, New Zealand should have a good World Cup.
Regardless of the tournament format or venue, one can never count out the mighty Australians. They currently sit on top of the ODI rankings and recently whitewashed the English at home in a three-match ODI series, which was part of The Women’s Ashes 2022. Although they recently lost to New Zealand in a World Cup warm-up match, the Aussies are yet another team expected to make the semi-finals at the very least.
The Asian teams that make up the World Cup include India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Pakistan sit eighth in the ODI rankings, while Bangladesh sit sixth. The Bangladeshi women have not had the exposure to playing in swinging conditions and against sides of high calibre in the recent past, making them a likely candidate to exit the tournament after the group stage. The same can be said about Pakistan, who lost to the West Indies at home in 2021.
India looked good in the warm-up games against the West Indies and South Africa; they beat both sides. However, they are coming off a humiliating series defeat at the hands of New Zealand. India’s record in such conditions does not look promising. They lost ODI series against both England and South Africa in 2021. However, they do pack a punch and could be the dark horses in this tournament. It would probably be a toss-up between the South Africans and the Indians to make the Top 4.
The West Indies are a side that could spring a surprise, but based on the conditions and their ODI form, it does not look likely that the team from the Caribbean will make the Top 4. Although they beat Pakistan, the Windies suffered a series loss to South Africa in 2021.
It certainly looks like England are in a strong position to win back-to-back ODI World Cups. In terms of serious contenders, the likes of Australia and New Zealand could be England’s most formidable challengers over the course of the tournament. South Africa and India, on the other hand, look good on paper and could be battling it out to complete the final spot for the semi-finals.