The Women’s Cricket World Cup kicks off on Friday in New Zealand, with organisers hoping to capitalise on increased interest in the women’s game after overcoming a slew of pandemic-related roadblocks.
The eight-nation tournament was initially set to take place in early 2021, but it was forced to be postponed until March of this year due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions that prevented the teams from entering New Zealand.
Even now, international players are obliged to spend ten days in isolation and follow rigorous “bubble” health regulations.
As the host nation tries to suppress an epidemic of the highly transmissible Omicron strain, viewers are required to cluster in “pods” of 100 people distributed around venues.
While the possibility of positive tests among players looms over the tournament, Andrea Nelson, the tournament’s chief executive, said measures were in place to deal with the majority of possibilities.
“On this event, we’ve had to deal with problems the entire way through, and we’ve overcome them all so far, so I have no doubt we’ll continue to do so,” she added.
The 2017 event in England, which was won by the home nation, was seen by 180 million people around the world, but Nelson believes women’s cricket has even more potential, referring to the 2020 T20 Women’s World Cup in Australia as an example.
“Cricket has such a large and rising viewership that the T20 Women’s World Cup final was seen by 1.1 billion people around the world, dwarfing the men’s Rugby World Cup,” she added.