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WPL 2023: Power game well & truly on display: A glimpse of future of women’s cricket?

Women's Premier League (WPL) 2023: Power game well & truly on display: A glimpse of future of women’s cricket? From 24 games played so far in WPL 2023, a total of 155 sixes were hit.

WPL 2023_ Shafali Verma has hit 12 sixes so far in Women's Premier League second to Sophie Devine _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©WPLT20_Twitter)
Shafali Verma has hit 12 sixes so far in WPL 2023 (Images: ©WPLT20/Twitter)

Over the years, the skill of using power in playing those big shots has been a real change in men’s cricket in all the three formats of the game and to an extent, it has also begun to touch base with women’s cricket.


The confidence to clear the ropes is one of the aspects of power-hitting but that’s not the only ingredient that transforms a player to a real power-hitter; the positioning before playing those big shots is also a valuable feature of smashing those huge sixes.



Overall strike rate in women’s cricket increased by 14 percentage points in 2015-23 as compared to 2004-14

The availability of a simple data will make it comfortable to understand how teams have started paying more attention on increasing the strike rate and have tried to go beyond the boundary rope more often.


From the year 2004 to 2014, in all women’s T20Is featuring Australia, England, India, New Zealand, South Africa and West Indies, the strike rate of players was just around 96.17 in 259 matches. The numbers jumped tremendously in the next eight and half years. Since January 1, 2015, in 355 women’s T20Is featuring the above-mentioned teams, the strike rate jumps to around 110.34. That’s a significant jump of around 14 percentage points over the earlier period.



Increased strike rate & sixes in WPL 2023 too

Coming to WPL 2023, in 24 games played so far till the eliminator between Mumbai Indians Women (MI-W) and UP Warriorz, a total of 155 sixes were nailed. Let’s take a look at the number of sixes by different teams.

WPL Franchise

Number of Sixes

Mumbai Indians Women (MIW)

27

Gujarat Giants (GG)

24

Delhi Capitals Women (DCW)

39

Royal Challengers Women (RCBW)

36

UP Warriorz (UPW)

29

The prospect of how the players have been more aggressive in this edition of Women’s Premier League (WPL) 2023 can be displayed with the number of sixes and the difference of their career strike rate and the boost of strike rate during this tournament.

Player's Name

No. of Games in WPL

No. of Sixes in WPL

Their Strike Rate in WPL

Their Career Strike Rate in WT20Is

Sophie Devine

08

13

172.72

121.33

Shafali Verma

08

12

182.57

132.11

Alice Capsey

07

10

159.00

132.90

Grace Harris

06

09

165.46

173.05

Hayley Matthews

09

10

127.09

104.15

Tahlia McGrath

09

07

158.11

142.69

So, the batters have also started to practice on hitting those long sixes, they have also begun to spend more time concentrating on gaining power. A few months back the 18-year-old Ayesha Naseem from Pakistan, after nailing a 83-metre six against Australia, spoke how she had been working on her legs and strong stance to clear the boundary by a long distance.



Various approaches and techniques in playing big shots among different players

The approach of playing those big shots have been different among various players too. To talk a little about men’s cricket, the West Indies players like Chris Gayle or Kieron Pollard or Andre Russell don’t often need to use their feet to gain momentum; they can just stand at one place and nail those big shots thanks to their power. It’s quite different from other big hitters like Rohit Sharma or David Warner or Brendon McCullum; the percentage of them using their feet is little more compared to those other players.


The same story goes with women’s cricket. Natalie Sciver-Brunt smashes those sixes with strength, while Heather Knight generates momentum when she gets in the line of the ball which means she takes a couple of steps forward to go for those big shots. Sophia Dunkley hits those powerful sixes with her hand speed and bat speed while Tammy Beaumont really whips her bat to get the bat speed. So, in the same team, one will find different ways of someone launching those sixes.


Launch angle also generates the angle of the bat face along with the ground when it makes contact with the ball. It determines how much power one could find to play the stroke and it also depends on the positioning of the batter’s whole body.


“Boundary-hitting is all about an open blade. Getting the bat flow going to the optimal height at the right time and then hitting with your back hip,” described Neil McKenzie, the batting coach of South Africa Men. “You see in golfers and tennis players - when that back hip comes through - that’s power-hitting.”


It has been a real display of power game even in the ongoing Women’s Premier League (WPL) 2023. At the beginning of the tournament, teams were little timid about playing those big shots but as the competition progressed, the graph of those big shots has only moved upwards.


WPL 2023_ Sophie Devine scored 99 off 36 against Gujarat Giants in league games _Walking Wicket (Images_ ©WPLT20_Twitter)
Devine scored 99 off 36 against GG in a league game (Images: ©WPLT20/Twitter)

Devine Dunkley, Harris - A look at some powerful knocks

It was just the third game of WPL 2023 when chasing 170, UP Warriorz were 86/4 in 12 overs as Grace Harris walked into the middle. In a space of just five balls, the Warriorz were pushed back to 88/6 and later 107/7 in 16 overs. The target was getting away as Harris found herself on 15 in 13 balls. It was then that Harris, dancing down the track, whacked Tanuja Kanwar for a six over mid-wicket before nailing three back-to-back boundaries against Kim Garth in three parts of the ground - deep mid-wicket, backward square leg and short fine leg. She began the last over pulling Annabel Sutherland for a six over mid-wicket before taking her team over the line with the same shot over long leg. She finished with 59* in 26 balls with the help of seven boundaries and three sixes at a strike rate of 226.92.


What Sophie Devine did at the business end of the tournament was nothing sort of a video game. To keep the Royal Challengers Bangalore Women (RCB-W) alive in the WPL, they were required to chase down 189 in 20 overs. Devine collected 24 runs in Ashleigh Gardner’s first over - the couple of sixes were thumped over deep mid-wicket and behind square. She flicked Kim Garth for a boundary behind square before whacking Gardner for a six over long-on fence. She nailed three more sixes against Tanuja Kanwar - the first one was charged over long-on, the second one was whacked straight while the last one was heaved over deep mid-wicket. Devine ended with 99 in 36 balls thanks to nine boundaries and eight sixes.


Sophia Dunkley showed power against RCB-W. She began with a boundary scooped behind square before couple of boundaries in the backward point region. She nailed Renuka Singh over extra cover before collecting 23 runs against Preeti Bose with four boundaries and one six straight down the ground. She continued the carnage with another boundary against Ellyse Perry behind square before celebrating her 18-ball fifty. She finished with 65 runs in 28 balls with the help of eleven boundaries and three sixes.


The shift in approach towards a power game can easily be displayed in women’s cricket and now it’s expected to rise more in the near future.


The final of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) 2023 will now take place between Delhi Capitals Women (DC-W) and Mumbai Indians Women (MI-W) at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on March 26.


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