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Phoebe Graham blog: England chances at T20 World Cup bolstered by youth


Phoebe Graham says that England's youth and experience gives them a huge chance to win the ICC T20 World Cup and lay to rest the semi-final heartbreak of 2020....

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Phoebe Graham says that England's youth and experience gives them a huge chance to win the ICC T20 World Cup and lay to rest the semi-final heartbreak of 2020....

England Women take on West Indies this Sunday in the ICC T20 World Cup Tournament in South Africa. It's England's chance to win the World Cup for the first time since 2009 but first, they will have to beat five-time reigning champions Australia.

Australia lifted the title in 2020 in front of a record-breaking 86,000 fans. The tournament received global recognition and was the tipping point for women's cricket. Perceptions still need to be flipped in women's sport but the significance of the 2020 final was more than just Australia's victory against India. It was a catalyst for change in women's cricket around the globe.

The positives of professional cricket | Australia the team to beat

Since 2020, the English game has been professionalised domestically. Cricket New Zealand and Cricket India pay equal match fees for their men's and women's teams. Ireland have given their international team contracts for the first time. The Hundred has launched, a tournament that prides itself on equal opportunity and equal prize money.

Fairbreak Global Tournament has given non-associate cricketers an opportunity to play alongside some of the world's best cricketers. The Women's IPL inaugural competition is in March, the second most lucrative cricket tournament in the world. Most excitingly for me, we saw the first U19 Women's World Cup (25 years behind the men's in 1988), take place in January. The acceleration of the game across the world has created a much stronger platform for cricket to thrive on the world stage this February.

Despite the advancement of cricket across the globe, Australia still play a dominating role and will be the team to beat. They have a strong squad under new management of Shelley Nitschke with the return of Meg Lanning to lead the team. Rachael Haynes will be a huge loss for Australia but with the depth of players such as Alyssa Healy, Ellyse Perry, Tahlia McGrath and Beth Mooney their team looks in good shape to take it to the final stages.

England ready to forget heartbreak of 2020

England will have a point to prove, living with the heartbreak of being knocked out of the last T20 World Cup in the semi-finals without a ball being bowled. They will look into this competition with a fresh outlook under the new management team of Jon Lewis. He has a squad with an exceptional blend of experience and youth. Those that wear the wounds of the 2020 tournament, plus the new guns.

The two players I'm excited to see throughout the tournament are Alice Capsey and Lauren Bell. They've thrived in The Hundred and I believe this is the global stage they've been waiting for, in what I believe for both of them, is their specialist format. Ecclestone clearly remains England's biggest threat and has been reigned as the number one T20 bowler since the world cup tournament in 2020.

One team to watch for me will be the home nation, South Africa. There has been a lot of talk around Dane van Niekerk who was left out of the squad due to not meeting fitness requirements. It was a bold call as she is a quality player and makes their team stronger but it shows the professionalism that South Africa are searching for.

They have the class of Laura Wolvaardt who thrives under the big occasions and one of the best all-rounders in the world in Marizanne Kapp. These two players partnered with the grit of Sune Luus, Chloe Tryon and Shabnim Ismail will make them a tough team to beat.

Tournament cricket can be funny and anything can happen. England are grouped with India, Pakistan, West Indies and Ireland. Whereas Australia take on South Africa, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Bangladesh.

The tournament is filled with exciting talent, world-class cricketers and there will be upsets along the way. If the journey plays out as we expect, it will be an England vs Australia final in Cape Town on February 26. Let's hope it's another game-changing tournament that helps flip the perceptions of women's cricket globally.

Watch England's T20 World Cup campaign live on Sky Sports Cricket; They begin against West Indies, live from 12.30pm on Saturday

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