The Women’s Cricket World Cup gets underway tomorrow, with eight teams set to contest the 12th edition of the tournament.
Matches will be played in the one-day international format and all eight teams will play each other in a round-robin.
After the completion of this stage, the top four teams will battle it out in the semi-finals, before a winner is crowned in the final.
Hosts New Zealand will be joined by defending champions England, title favourites Australia, South Africa and India. Bangladesh, Pakistan and West Indies complete the line-up.
With the tournament just around the corner, GiveMeSport Women picks five players to keep an eye on.
Smriti Mandhana – India
At just 25-years-old, Smriti Mandhana has already been named ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year twice.
Mandhana has four centuries in one-day internationals, and also boasts a strike-rate of 85. She will be key to India’s chances as they aim to finally clinch a World Cup title.
The country has finished as runner-up twice, losing in the final to Australia in 2005 and England in 2017.
Amelia Kerr – New Zealand
Amelia Kerr burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old prodigy in 2018. She became the youngest player – male or female – to score a double century in international cricket, recording an unbeaten 232 in a one-day international against Ireland.
She struggled to hit the same heights in the years following this unprecedented achievement, but looks to be in excellent form heading into the World Cup. The 21-year-old was crucial as New Zealand stunned Australia in a warm-up match this week.
New Zealand have one World Cup title, triumphing in 2000 on home soil. Kerr will surely have a big part to play if history is to repeat itself.
Laura Wolvaardt – South Africa
Laura Wolvaardt is just 22-years-old but she is already incredibly experienced on the world stage. She has racked up 2,482 runs in 65 one-day international innings, including 21 half-centuries.
Wolvaardt is also currently in good form, scoring 171 runs across four matches against the West Indies in January. This included a match-winning century, which drew her level with Lizelle Lee for the most ODI tons for South Africa.
The star has already competed at a World Cup, helping her country to the semi-finals in 2017. She will be hoping to go two steps further this year.
Sophie Eccleston – England
Sophie Eccleston is rated as one of the best spin bowlers in the world, and it’s easy to understand why.
Since England won the World Cup in 2017, Ecclestone has taken 52 wickets. Only South Africa’s Shabnim Ismail has more. The 22-year-old has also recorded more overs than any other bowler.
As with the other players on this list, Ecclestone has impressed in the run-up to the World Cup.
England may have lost the Ashes, but Ecclestone was the only person to bowl the maximum 30 overs across the three one-day international fixtures. Only Australian star Ellyse Perry managed a better economy than Ecclestone during the competition.
Nida Dar – Pakistan
The 35-year-old Nida Dar has been one of Pakistan’s key players for more than a decade, and she will be crucial to her country’s chances of winning its first World Cup title.
Last year, Dar became the first bowler – male or female – to take 100 wickets in T20I cricket for Pakistan.
She has kept up her excellent form, helping Pakistan stun New Zealand in a warm-up match last week. The star took 1-18 from six overs and then hit 54 from 59 balls.
Which player will you be looking out for at the Women’s Cricket World Cup?