Specials – When the Women’s World Cup was last held in England

  The Women’s World Cup, the final of which is being played at Lord’s today, returned to England after 24 long years. The 1993 tournament was the fifth edition and featured eight teams, then a new record. 

  Interestingly, the 60-over format was persisted with, even as the men’s World Cup had shifted to the standardized 50 overs back in 1987. Australia were defending the title, having won the previous edition in 1988 at home. Here is a look back at a few highlights and moments from the 13-day-long tournament.

A transformed roster, two decades on

  England had earlier hosted the inaugural edition in 1973, which featured an intriguing mix of teams. Besides the hosts, Australia and New Zealand, there were Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago playing as separate nations – unheard of in men’s international cricket – as well as an International XI and a Young England outfit.

  On the other hand, 1993 saw the West Indies play the tournament for the first time, while Denmark also made their World Cup bow.

Heavyweights dish out opening-day drubbings

  Veteran opener Janette ‘Jan’ Brittin impressed for the hosts in their opening game against Denmark with a sublime 104 that led to a 239-run rout of the opposition. Chasing a total of 286/3, the highest of the tournament, the Danes lost their last five wickets for one run to be bowled out for 47.

  On the same day, Australia began their title defence with a breeze, subduing the Netherlands, who were bundled out for 56 thanks in main to a remarkable return of 12-7-8-4 from pacer Brownwyn Calver, by ten wickets.

      England, hosts of the 1993 edition of the Women’s World Cup, won their second title after defeating New Zealand in the final at Lord’s (source – gettyimages/espncricinfo.com)

The Netherlands win their first World Cup game

  Having endured eight straight defeats in their maiden World Cup appearance in 1988, it would not have been surprising to see the Dutchwomen go winless again, especially after the limp display against Australia.

  However, their second match, against newbies West Indies, presented the ideal opportunity to break the duck. And they did it in quite resounding fashion, defending 158 to win by 70 runs, with Pauline te Beest (62) and Anita van Lier (4/24) doing the star turn.

England see off India in a pulsating climax

  In what was possibly the best match of the tournament, the hosts eked out a last-over victory against India. Brittin was in the thick of things again, scoring 100 in England’s total of 179 – they lost their last seven wickets for 22.

  The evergreen Indian captain Diana Edulji bowled splendidly, taking 4/12 with her left-arm spin. India went from 83/2 to 128/7 in reply, but the tail kept England on their toes. Eventually, number eleven Laya Francis was run out with four needed from two balls.

Underdogs play out a thriller of their own

  An equally exciting finish followed three days later, when Ireland staved off a brave Dutch challenge. The Netherlands could manage only 134/8, with skipper Nicola Payne (46) being the top scorer.

  Ireland looked on course at 60/2, but were put on the brink thanks to an incisive spell from Ariette van Noortwijk (4/21). It was left to Judith Herbison and Susan Bray, at nine and ten respectively, to stitch an unbroken stand of 32 and ensure a two-wicket win in the 57th over.

     Karen Smithies, England’s 24-year-old captain, receives the World Cup trophy at Lord’s. She was also the joint highest wicket-taker of the tournament (source – ICC/gettyimages)

New Zealand signal their intent with a clean slate

  The White Ferns failed to finish in the top two in the first four editions, but they were the standout team in the league phase this time, with seven wins out of seven. Despite being bowled out for 127 against England, they ensured that it was enough for a 25-run win.

  The lowest total, 40 by the Netherlands, of the tournament came against New Zealand, with Jennifer Turner taking 5/5. They reserved their best for Australia, blowing them away for 77 en route to a ten-wicket win.

Hosts prove their superiority in the summit clash

  However, New Zealand’s unbeaten streak was broke  when it mattered most – in the final at Lord’s on 1st August, 1993 – a historic occasion for the women’s game. England, whose only league loss had come against New Zealand, got back with a facile 67-run win to secure their second title.

  Brittin (48) and Carole Hodges (45) steered England to 195/5, before New Zealand ambled to 60/2 in the 27th over, at which point the run out of Debbie Hockley turned the tide towards England. New Zealand fell to 71/5, and never really recovered, terminating at 128 in the 56th over. Gillian Smith took 3/29 for the hosts.

Presenting the chart toppers

  Jan Brittin, England’s batting pillar, was the leading run-scorer in the tournament, tallying 410 runs at 51.25, including two hundreds. The highest individual score came from the bat of Helen Plimmer, who scored 118 for England against Ireland.

  Karen Smithies, captain of England, and Julie Harris of New Zealand – both medium pacers – were the leading wicket-takers with 15 scalps each, while New Zealand’s Jennifer Turner recorded the best bowling figures, a sensational 5/5 against the Netherlands.  

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