Womens Test team of the 2010s

While many end-of-the-decade cricket reviews have named multi-genre womens teams of the 2010s, I have decided to drill down and select eleven women based upon the best Test performances of the decade.

Why? To recognise an endangered, yet highly valued part of our sport. Highly valued that is, by those who play and follow Test cricket for women, not from those governing bodies who pretend it doesn’t happen.

During the decade of the 2010s (and I explain why the period 1/1/2010 to 31/12/2019 is a valid decade here) there were eight women’s Test matches played worldwide. 

Eight. In the whole world. In ten years. Count ’em.

England played in seven of the eight, Australia in six. India two, South Africa one. All the other countries where women play cricket, zero. And there has been no women’s Test not played between Australia and England since November 2014.

If no one cared about Test cricket for women we could probably put up the “Extinct” sign, but people do. The players from Australia and England, who want more Test matches, the players from New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan and elsewhere who just want to play, full stop.

It’s one thing to argue that Test cricket for women is a gender equity issue, but there’s a reason why apathy and/or resistance is found in the general direction of the ICC and their media overlords – and that is that they have no respect for Test cricket for men. 

There is so little interest in expanding men’s Test cricket, look at the demise of the Intercontinental Cup as an offshoot of that attitude. Why would they show an interest in extending the genre so that women can compete as often as the men? But this and other issues on the future of Test cricket will be my topic of future discussion in other articles.

With that long overture done, here is my eleven. Because of the small statistical sample, some players have been chosen on the basis of one performance only. I have included at least one representative from each competing nation during the decade. Some players have been selected for reasons outside their best known expertise, and I have disregarded T20 and ODI form completely.

Womens Test Team of the 2010s:

1 Heather Knight ENG
2 Thirush Kamini IND
3 Charlotte Edwards ENG capt
4 Mignon du Preez SAF
5 Ellyse Perry AUS
6 Sarah Taylor ENG wk
7 Harmanpreet Kaur IND
8 Jenny Gunn ENG
9 Rene Farrell AUS
10 Megan Schutt AUS
11 Jhulan Goswami IND

Kamini was named on the basis of one innings, 192 against South Africa at Mysore in 2014. Du Preez was chosen for her 102 for South Africa in that same match, Harmanpreet Kaur has been selected as the only slow bowler in the side, having taken nine wickets (5/44 and 4/41) in that same Mysore Test. Mithali Raj’s best Test performances, including her double century, came in the 2000s.

Ellyse Perry was far and away the most successful female Test cricketer of the 2010s, scoring 573 runs at 114.6 and taking 26 wickets at 16.73 in her six Test appearances.

Test cricket is not dying — the five day game still has a unique place in world sport

Is Test cricket dying? (Spoiler: No.)

But before I explain, here’s a couple of short videos to watch. Firstly, Moeen Ali’s hat-trick ball to seal England’s Test victory over South Africa at The Oval on July 31:

Second, eighteen year-old Rashid Khan taking the first ever hat-trick of the Twenty20 Caribbean Premier League at Brian Lara Stadium, Trinidad on September 6:

Which game had the bigger crowd and the better atmosphere, and which hat-trick do you think will be remembered in twenty years’ time, or even next year?

Test cricket is not dying, but in many ways it has failed to grow at the same rate as the sport’s newer versions, the one-day game and Twenty20. The Ashes, starting in Australia in November, are close to selling out, and most England Test tours are a major event for the Barmy Army.

Christmas and New Year Tests in Australia, regardless of the opponent, attract big crowds and massive TV ratings.

Day-night Test matches are increasingly becoming part of the mix. The first two at Adelaide in the past two years have attracted large crowds and healthy television audiences. England’s first day-night Test – against West Indies at Edgbaston in August – has also been seen as a success, despite the visitors losing two days early.

While the boards will continue to pursue the commercial imperatives of day-night Tests, there are still bugs to be sorted out, the biggest being that the players simply don’t like playing with a pink cricket ball in changing light conditions.

We are yet to see how the popularity of “pink ball” Tests withstands either a dull fifth-day draw or the frustrations of constant rain interruptions. Not once, in the four day-night Tests played in Australia and England to date, has a match extended into a Monday evening.

The biggest threats to the viability of Test cricket have arisen with the exponential growth in the number of matches played in the past three decades, in which period the number of Test teams has grown from seven to ten (and soon to twelve).

Traditional encounters like the Ashes or India’s home Tests remain popular, and indeed have grown in popularity with the extended reach of live television and the internet.

Other series have failed to deliver the same growth. It’s difficult to argue, for example, that the rivalry between South Africa and Bangladesh (who have just completed a lop-sided two match series) is dying off when it never existed in the first place.

But there needs to be a reason for being if Test cricket is to be more than just the cash cow of a handful of nations.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) board is meeting in New Zealand later this week and is set to approve a World Test Championship structure that would involve the nine leading Test teams playing each other in a two-year cycle beginning in 2019 with the top two meeting in a Final at Lord’s in 2021.

Exactly how this would function in the instance of India’s fixture with Pakistan is not clear, but it otherwise guarantees each team a minimum number of Tests, with competition points up for grabs in each series.

This would mean, for example, that Bangladesh would have split competition points with Australia in their recent 1-1 Test series, but would have taken none from their 0-2 loss to South Africa last week. Every Test would have some degree of broader context.

Test cricket deserves to survive, and will, alongside Twenty20 just as the marathon is as much a part of the athletics calendar as the 100 metres sprint. It will never be the major money-earner of the game, that is the role of Twenty20 these days.

But the advent of a functional world Test league, together with some smart scheduling including the occasional day-nighter, will reinforce the five-day game’s unique place in world sport.

(This article was first published on October 9 2017 by iSportconnect).