Awesome Australia crowned Women’s T20 World Cup champions for sixth time
Beth Mooney top-scored with 74* as the world’s top-ranked team posted 156/6, and a brilliant bowling display saw South Africa stifled in their chase, with the Proteas falling 20 runs short of their target.
Their victory means Australia have now won six Women’s T20 World Cup titles, and they have completed a ‘three-peat’ under the captaincy of Meg Lanning, winning in 2018, 2020 and now 2023.
Tasked with defending a target of 157, Australia’s bowlers throttled the scoring rate of South Africa’s openers at the start of the reply, conceding just 22 runs in the Powerplay and with in-form Tazmin Brits sent back to the dugout by the electric Darcie Brown.
A Brown catch saw Marizanne Kapp dismissed for a run-a-ball 11 off Ash Gardner as South Africa struggled to up the scoring rate, with 105 runs still required at drinks with ten overs remaining.
The brilliance of Laura Wolvaardt threatened to bring South Africa back into the game as she hit big shot after big shot to surge to 61 from 48 balls.
But Megan Schutt removed Wolvaardt and Jess Jonassen cleaned up the dangerous Chloe Tryon (25 from 23) as the required rate of scoring proved too much for South Africa in the death overs.
And Australia saw it out comfortably in the end, winning by 19 runs to add yet more silverware to the team’s bulging trophy cabinet.
Emotional day for South African cricket
There was a packed crowd and an emotional atmosphere at Newlands as the home crowd embraced the opportunity to support their national team in a first-ever senior World Cup final.
Marizanne Kapp wasn’t the only person inside the ground in tears as the anthems were sung, and anticipation was high as South Africa took to the field after being asked to bowl first by Aussie captain Meg Lanning.
After those emotional scenes at the anthems, Australia’s openers did a terrific job to dampen down the atmosphere, making it through a tense opening few overs.
But Alyssa Healy was the first wicket to fall for 18 when Nadine de Klerk held on to a chance off the bowling of Kapp.
Australia opted to promote Ash Gardner ahead of Meg Lanning in the batting line-up, but a stunning maiden over from Shabnim Ismail ensured the score was just 36/1 at the end of the Powerplay.
The decision to promote Gardner up the order did pay off, with the all-rounder smashing consecutive sixes as she upped the scoring rate.
And the total had stretched to 73/1 by the time drinks were taken midway through the innings.
It looked like Gardner was in a position to take the game away from South Africa, but spin-bowling all-rounder Chloe Tryon broke the stand, sending her packing for 29 from 21 balls thanks to an excellent catch from Sune Luus.
And Australia again took the aggressive option with their flexible batting line-up, pushing the powerful Grace Harris up the order.
Harris has a phenomenal strike rate in her T20I career, but couldn’t really get going and fell victim to Nonlululeko Mlaba for 10 from 9 balls.
And Meg Lanning, coming in at number five, was able to add just 10 from 11 before she was caught off Kapp to leave Australia in danger of posting a below-par total.
Australia looked for a big finish, and ten runs off the first two balls of the final over put them in a great position. But Ismail responded well, removing Ellyse Perry (7) and Georgia Wareham (0) off consecutive balls as the target was set at 157 to win.
Mooney carried her bat, passing fifty and then accelerating to a final score of 74* from 53 balls - an innings that deservedly saw her named Player of the Match.
South Africa would have been confident of chasing down such a total prior to the game, but brilliant bowling and a sluggish start to the chase left them with far too much to do, and the home crowd could only applaud as Australia celebrated yet another World title in their extraordinary era of dominance.
Era of dominance
This Australian team are one of the sport’s all-time greats. They are also arguably one of the best women’s teams of all time across any sport.
Lanning’s side remain holders of both the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup and the 50-over Women’s World Cup titles, have won all of the last three editions of this tournament, and in total have won seven of the last nine major ICC World Cups.
The standard of the game is rising rapidly, with many outstanding teams on show during this World Cup.
But Lanning’s Australia remain a cut above, with quality right throughout their ranks.
Australia’s strength in depth proves too much
When you have a squad packed with as much talent as Australia do then there’s always likely to be players who stand up.
The Aussies have five of the ten top-ranked batters in the game, and it was Mooney and Gardner (ranked second and seventh respectively) who excelled on this occasion.
Mooney’s brilliance is in her consistency, and the importance of her knock only became clear as the match progressed, with most batters finding it really hard to get going on the Newlands surface.
Ash Gardner is one of three Aussies in the top ten of the bowling rankings too, and it was that unit who produced some serious magic on the day.
Restricting the run rate in the manner Australia did is so hard to achieve, and underlined their quality in all facets of the game.