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Women’s cricket World Cup 2013 preview

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England aims to retain the trophy won four years ago in Australia.

With the profile of women’s sport at an all-time high, it is perhaps not surprising that the Women’s Cricket World Cup, which starts in India at the end of January, is revelling in unprecedented media exposure.

Defending champions England will be confident of equalling their achievement of March 2009, when they beat New Zealand in the final at Australia’s North Sydney Oval.

However, they will also be wary of falling at the last fence, as was the case in October 2012, when they were defeated in the Twenty20 World Cup final by Australia.

Certainly, having trumpeted their almost guaranteed triumph before the start of the Twenty20 tournament, I am not going to proclaim my punditry again, for fear of unleashing the infamous “commentator’s curse”!

England captain Charlotte Edwards will be taking part in her fifth successive World Cup and is relishing the prospect.

In an interview with the BBC she said, “I’m so proud to be captaining such a talented team in what is the pinnacle event in our sport…

“Every player in our squad has experience of playing in sub-continental conditions and we will continue to work hard during our final preparations so come February we are in the best possible shape to defend our title.”

It is indeed an experienced squad, with just one uncapped player, Amy Jones.

This kind of stability has served England well on past tours and in tournaments.

The competition has an impressive pedigree, although it has struggled in the past to gain mainstream recognition. The first Women’s World Cup was held in England in 1973, two years before the first men’s tournament was organised.

In the nine tournaments so far, only three different countries have won the title; Australia five times, England three times and New Zealand once.

It would be a brave person to bet against either Australia or England to win again, but women’s cricket is making significant progress in India and the West Indies, and if there is to be an upset, it is likely to come from one of these teams.

The format of the tournament may seem a little complicated, but is now the standard throughout international one-day cricket.

There are eight teams taking part, split into two groups of four.

Group A comprises England, India, Sri Lanka and West Indies, while Group B is Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa.

The top three teams in each group take their points forward to the Super Six stage.

Each team in the Super Six then plays the three other sides they have not yet met, with the top two going on to the final.

This will be held at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on 17 February from 09.00 GMT.

All games will take place at one of five stadiums in Mumbai.

The tournament starts on 31 January with Australia versus Pakistan at the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC).

Selected matches will be screened on Sky Sports, and all England’s games will be live via BBC radio’s Five Live Sports Extra.

I’m afraid it will mean some alarm-setting as many of the games will start in the early hours, with England’s first match taking place on 2 February as they take on Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium from 03.30 GMT.

There will also be full updates on Women’s Views on News.

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