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Jodie Fields, captain of Australia, poses with the trophy in front of the iconic Gateway of India monument. Photo: Getty Images

After World Cup win, it’s back to the drawing board for Fields

Australia Women’s captain says the standard of women’s cricket has improved by leaps and bounds and with matches now being televised, things can only get better

21 February 2013 - 08:28pm IST by Shashank Kishore in Mumbai

Australia added yet another piece of silverware to its trophy cabinet when it beat the West Indies in the final of the 2013 ICC Women’s World Cup in Mumbai on Sunday (February 17). Its sixth title was a culmination of what Jodie Fields, the team captain, called a "process" that started way back in March 2012 in India. 

“It is really exciting to know that we are indeed the double world champions,” said Fields. “At the end of the day, it feels proud to lead this side and I must tell you it is a collective effort, and I am grateful to the kind of support we have received from fans and Cricket Australia, especially in terms of our overall development as a team. We started off our World Cup mission when we came here for the ODIs and T20s last year and here we are as champions.” 

Fields, who was also captain of the side that lifted the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka in October 2012, also became the first Australian captain to pull off the double. But she was rather modest in accepting that it was not just her role as a leader, but also the support lent by senior players that made the difference to their campaign. 

“To win the World Cup … a lot of hard work and sacrifice goes into it. I guess I’ve tried to lead the side with actions. I feel that if I lead by example in nutrition, fitness, training, others will follow,” said Fields. “Lisa Sthalekar has been a mentor for our spin bowling group. It is sad to see her retire at this time especially given the Ashes is round the corner. But she has been a great influence in the group; I’m sure the younger players and the entire team will miss her. But not just Lisa, even some of the others like Alex Blackwell have been amazing. I think everyone deserves a huge pat on the back.” 

Playing a pivotal role, whenever required, were the bowlers led by Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt and Holly Ferling, the 19-year-old who made her debut in the tournament. With Perry injured for three games, Ferling more than made up by stepping up when it mattered. Fields admitted it was tough leaving out Ferling for the final, but it was a well thought-out decision. 

“I can’t tell you how tough it was,” said Fields. “But we didn’t expect her to play too many games anyway. So considering all that I thought she came out with flying colours. I am sure this tournament has done her more good than she would have ever imagined. (I am) very happy with the way she played.” 

Basking in glory, however, didn’t seem to have distorted the vision of the Australian team management, and Fields realises the next few months could be a very crucial period, especially given they have an Ashes series to focus on. Seeing that the number of One-Day Internationals across a four-year cycle is the approximately half the number that the men play, Fields said it was important to build a team early, and that would be the bigger challenge going forward. 

“I guess we’ll start to think about that now. The next big focus is the Ashes and then the World T20 in Bangladesh in 2014, so our first priority is that,” said Fields. “But looking ahead, we would want to give opportunities from a few of the girls from the Shooting Stars team (the junior Australian team). We’ve also seen guys like Megan Schutt and Holly Ferling make a seamless transition. I am sure there are a lot many girls who have been inspired by them, and I’m sure the future holds something even more fantastic for the Southern Stars.” 

Reflecting on the entire tournament, Fields expressed satisfaction at the arrangements in India and also talked about the direction in which the women’s game was headed. “Oh yes, it was a fantastic tournament, all of us had a great time in India,” she said. “The last three weeks have been amazing and we’re waiting to come back here, hopefully sooner than you would imagine, for a series. 

“I think this tournament has shown the way in which the women’s game is headed. It has come up by leaps and bounds. We saw good crowds in Cuttack and Mumbai, the standard of cricket has improved tremendously (as was) very evident from the way Sri Lanka and West Indies played. Their boards are putting money into the game and that is showing. Also many matches are being televised now, so things couldn’t have been better.”

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