World-beating Australia know they’re 'being hunted' but keep staying ahead of the pack
Beth Mooney top-scored in Sunday’s final at Newlands, accelerating at the back end of her excellent knock to finish unbeaten on 74* from 53 balls.
And the Aussies successfully defended the 156/6 that Mooney had helped them reach, claiming their sixth ICC Women’s T20 World Cup title.
This latest edition of the tournament saw the gap close noticeably between the world’s top-ranked team and their challengers.
And Mooney says that the team are more than aware that it’s getting harder and harder for Australia to keep up their winning momentum.
“We've been very successful over a number of years and I just love waking up in the morning and putting on my Australian shirt, so hopefully they want me around for a little bit longer.
“Something we speak about as a group is making sure we're always evolving along the way. I think we've seen in this tournament there are teams around the world getting better and better as the years go on and we know that we're being hunted.
“People are looking at us for what we do and how we go about it, so certainly it won't last forever, but we'll enjoy it for as long as we can and hopefully we can keep piling up those trophies.”
So how exactly do you beat the team who have won the last three ICC Women’s T20 World Cups?
“It's a good question, just don't turn up - it's too hard, don't bother going,” Mooney joked, adding:
“I'm not too sure - I think it probably starts within yourself more so than anything rather than worrying about what other people do.
“I think if I give too much away we might start getting beaten, but the good part about the game at the moment is every team's evolving at a rapid pace and the game's evolving at a rapid pace too, so I'm really excited for what's to come and the challenges that are ahead of us.”
Mooney’s match-winning contribution with the bat started in scrappy fashion, with the opener struggling to maintain a run-a-ball strike rate right through until the final third of the innings.
Her late fireworks boosted Australia to what proved to be a winning total, but Mooney said she was hugely frustrated with the first portion of her innings.
“I wasn't too happy with how I was hitting them. I actually asked one of the girls who ran out if she could ask Shell (head coach Shelley Nitschke) if she wanted to retire me - because I was hitting it that bad.
“You know it just goes to show if you hang in there long enough and get the pace of the wicket… once I stayed a bit stiller and hit it a bit straighter it wasn't too bad.”
As for the bigger picture; Sunday’s final saw a record crowd for a women’s cricket match in South Africa as Newlands was at capacity to cheer on the two teams.
And Mooney says that inspiring future generations and boosting the profile of the game is a huge part of what inspires her and her teammates.
“We obviously want to be inspiring young boys and girls, not just in Australia but around the world, and also helping the global game grow.
“We know that we're in a very privileged position to be able to be up in lights and producing performances like today and getting people talking about women's sport, so hopefully this is just the beginning.
“You know we saw (a huge crowd) in 2020 at the MCG and we saw today how many people came out in full force, so I think the opportunities are there for people to watch women's sport and be a part of it as well.”
The crowd really did #TurnItUp 🙌— T20 World Cup (@T20WorldCup) February 26, 2023
The #T20WorldCup final saw Newlands host a record crowd for women’s cricket in South Africa. pic.twitter.com/mkGl4tSKyQ