Sometimes it’s what isn’t said at press conferences that tells the real story. For instance, here’s Sune Luus after she was asked what it was like to be on the receiving end of another Australia win in a World Cup final.
“They are a well-oiled machine. Their level of professionalism is insane. The world has been looking up to their team for a very, very long time. They’re the best for a reason. If you look at their structures and pipelines, everything is lining up and everything is in order.”
That sounds like glowing praise, and it was. But it was also prefaced by Luus unleashing the mother of all eye-rolls. As in, Australia! Again!
Meg Lanning’s team beat South Africa by 19 runs in Sunday’s T20 World Cup final to earn Australia’s sixth title in the format. They have also won seven ODI World Cups. Of the 20 women’s white-ball championships yet played, only seven haven’t been won by the Aussies. They have a success rate of 65%. Maybe Luus rolled her eyes more out of desperation than jealousy.
After all, she wanted something like what Australia had: “That’s something definitely as a country we’re striving for. We obviously look at the structures and, you know, want to see how we can do that best in our country as well. But they’re the best in the world for a reason, and we can only try to get better to eventually beat them.”
Beth Mooney, whose unbeaten 74 off 53 gelled her team’s innings, also offered a revealing expression. What, she was asked, would she tell a side about how to beat Australia? Mooney pulled a face of mock confusion before answering.
“Just don’t turn up,” she said to a roomful of laughter. “It’s too hard, don’t bother going.” But seriously: “It probably starts within yourself more so than anything rather than worrying about what other people do, but if I give too much away we might start getting beaten. But the good part about the game at the moment is every team’s evolving at a rapid pace and the game’s evolving at a rapid pace too.”
Not at a pace fast enough for Australia’s opponents to compete with them, a race that only England and India can say they are part of seriously. How might a more competitive global women’s game be achieved?
“It’s up to CSA and the minister of sport and whoever’s in charge of cricket in this country to knock on doors and open those doors, and give women’s cricket the best chance they could possibly have to keep up with Australia, with England and with India,” Luus said, before casting an eye further afield. “The WPL is going to be massive for women’s cricket. And I’m hoping it grows from and hopefully we get a SA20 for women. That would really help South African women’s cricket. The leagues are all in the top three nations. That’s why they’re so good, and that’s why they have depth.
“Overseas players come and you get used to playing with and against them. And when a youngster like Annerie Dercksen comes up she’s not looking at Ellyse Perry going, “Wow, I’m playing against her for the first time.’ Because Ellyse might have played with her in a team. That’s something we really need to look at. We’ve been asking for a very long time for a South African league. I know there are budget constraints, and there’s always challenges with resources. But we’ve given our girls the best chance we could, and it’s up to CSA and everyone involved to make that happen.”
Although the South Africans lost, they did earn the experience that came with being the first senior team from their country, male or female, to reach a World Cup final in any format.
“We got a sniff of how a final is, and the feelings and the nerves and everything, and I feel now we have the heartache of not winning a final. Next year’s World Cup, when we get there again, it’s not going to be a big thing for us anymore to break a curse. I think now it’s just for us to really look at the final and say, ‘How are we going to get through the final and be on the other side of that?'”
How many more titles might the Australians have in them? “As many as there are out there,” Mooney said. “We don’t get tired of it. Something we speak about as a group is making sure we’re always evolving. We’ve seen in this tournament there are teams around the world getting better as the years go on and we know we’re being hunted. People look at us for what we do and how we go about it, so it won’t last forever. But we’ll enjoy it for as long as we can, and hopefully we can keep piling up those trophies.”
Cue the eye-rolls.