Qualification for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 hots up this week, with hosts England among the teams looking to secure the three remaining automatic qualification spots in the ending stages of the ICC Women’s Championship starting Thursday.
Australia have already qualified for the World Cup as the IWC winner, but three further slots will be decided over the coming two weeks with four different series being played across the Asia-Pacific region.
The top four sides from the IWC gain direct qualification while the bottom four sides will have to qualify through the 10-team ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2017 in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo from 7-21 February.
The other teams in the Colombo tournament will be regional qualifiers Bangladesh, Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Scotland and Zimbabwe, with four from the event advancing to the showpiece event in England and Wales from 26 June to 23 July.
Australia leads the table with 30 points from 18 matches while England and the West Indies are on the verge of qualifying with 23 and 22 points, respectively.
World Twenty20 champions West Indies will get the first shot at qualification as they play in India from November 10-16 in their three-match IWC series, while England’s series in Sri Lanka from November 12-17 will give them a chance to wrap up an ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 slot.
New Zealand are in a strong position to qualify and complete the qualifiers’ lineup as they need to beat lower-placed Pakistan in a home series since they are on 20 points and need two wins to ensure they do not have to go through the qualifying tournament.
South Africa, who are on 17 points, will have to pull off a surprise victory in Australia during their series from November 18-23 to remain in contention and also hope that other results work in their favour.
England captain Heather Knight is confident after beating the West Indies 2-1 in the last series. “A lot of hard work has gone into ensuring that we are well placed in the table leading into this last phase of the competition. We are confident that we can deliver the one victory we now need to secure one of the four automatic qualifying spots for the ICC Women’s World Cup on home soil next summer,” Knight said.
“It has been a quick turnaround following our series win in the Caribbean, and we are now looking forward to the fresh challenge of taking on Sri Lanka, with the ambition of finishing the busiest ever year for the England women’s team on a high.
“We learnt an awful lot playing against the West Indies last month. Overall, I’m really happy with the strength, character and fight that the team showed across that series, which I hope we can build on moving into what we know will be another tough test against a passionate Sri Lanka team in their own conditions,” she went on to add.
West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor says her team will be cautious against India. “We look forward with anticipation to the series ahead against India. Victory here is very important to both teams for automatic qualification for the ICC World Cup next year.”
"We just completed a tough series against England but the girls are fit and ready and we are putting all our efforts into being successful. We are aware that India has an energetic team and we expect a hard-fought series,” Taylor added.
New Zealand are a frontrunner after a crucial 2-1 series win over South Africa in Kimberley last month. Captain Suzie Bates says her team will now go all out against Pakistan while also working towards building the team for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017.
“We need to win this series to qualify, so we are approaching this with the same intensity as any of the other series and obviously want to win and win well at home. We want to keep gaining confidence in our 50-over game plan and individual roles leading up to the World Cup. We want to provide opportunities for different players to create even more depth in our squad.
“We know Pakistan is a very passionate and skillful side. We have played very little cricket against them outside of World Cups so we don’t know as much about them as we do about some of the other international teams. We have not taken any team lightly this whole ICC Women’s Championship campaign and this series will be no different,” Bates said.
South Africa captain Dane van Niekerk understands that the team has to go all out against Australia. “As far as I know, we have to beat Australia 3-0 to automatically qualify, which we know is a huge task. We’ve played good cricket in patches but we need to put in more consistent individual performances. We have the players and the skills to do it. We just need to execute,” she said.
Upcoming ICC Women’s Championship matches:
India v West Indies: November 10, 13 and 16 (Vijaywada, India)
Sri Lanka v England: November 12, 15 and 17 (Colombo)
New Zealand v Pakistan: November 13 (Canterbury), 17 and 19 (Nelson)
Australia v South Africa: November 18, 20 (Canberra) and 23 (Sydney)
Note – two points for a win, no point for a loss and one point for a no-result