The stature of women’s cricket has grown by a fair margin since the last Women’s World Cup was held in 2017. This year, the quadrennial showpiece being hosted by New Zealand promises to take things to the next level.
Team India lost to hosts England in the final of the last World Cup. That edition saw Shafali Verma become the youngest cricketer, at the age of 16, to play in a cricket World Cup.
This time round, Fran Cecilia Jonas of New Zealand is the youngest amongst the eight participating teams. Jonas is 17 years old and had barely played two WODIs when she was included in the White Ferns' squad for World Cup 2022, which begins on Friday, March 4.
Regarded as one of the brightest young cricketers in New Zealand
Jonas is an all-rounder and is regarded as one of the brightest young cricketers in New Zealand today. The left-arm spinner was preferred over experienced Kiwi spinner Leigh Kasperek in the final squad for the World Cup.
Interestingly, Kasperek has been the leading wicket-taker for New Zealand since the 2017 Women’s World Cup. In 26 matches, she has picked up 42 wickets at a strike rate of 21.26.
Jonas, on the other hand, has played only four WODIs so far and has picked up two wickets. Although she did not do much with the bat in those matches, she sure knows how to score runs - according to her skipper.
Sophie Devine, who will be leading the White Ferns in the World Cup, says :
“Jonas’ ability to bat anywhere from one to eleven - that’s a really key thing. That’s one thing we want in our group for players to follow the role and do the job, whatever it looks like, whatever it takes, they want to do it.”
Jonas has made rapid strides as a cricketer
Jonas made her debut for the Auckland Hearts in 2019 at the age of 15 and, by September 2020, earned a New Zealand’s women development contract. She has also played in the Super Smash.
The all-rounder has made rapid strides as a cricketer and her inclusion in the squad for the Women’s World Cup 2022 is testimony to her talent and hard work.
“There is real depth coming through. Fran does deserve an opportunity. She was outstanding through the winter camps that we had among the White Ferns and she has grown as a player. She is only 17,” Devine was quoted as saying by Espncricinfo.
The future belongs to cricketers like Jonas
With T20 leagues like the Super Smash and WBBL doing their bit to popularize the women’s game, the future belongs to cricketers like Jonas. The Women’s World Cup 2022 will be the perfect stage to fire up the imagination of more such budding women cricketers across the globe.
One must also acknowledge the contribution of old guards like Jhulan Goswami, who have fought against the odds odds to make sure women’s cricket gets its due. The 39-year-old is four wickets away from becoming the highest wicket-taker in the history of the Women’s World Cup.
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