2009 Women's World Cup launched

The countdown to the 2009 Women’s World Cup has gathered pace with the launch of the competition in Sydney today.

ICC resident David Morgan was on hand along with chairman of Cricket Australia Jack Clark and four stars of the women’s game.

England seamer Isa Guha lined up with India’s Jhulan Goswami, Australia’s Karen Rolton and New Zealand’s Suzie Bates at a damp Circular Quay.

Morgan is confident next March’s tournament, which features the top eight sides in the world, will be the most widely viewed women’s cricket event of all time.

He said: “At least six of the matches will be shown to a television audience spanning more than 100 countries thanks to our Broadcast Partners ESPN STAR Sports and its licensees.”

“It will be a wonderful opportunity to showcase the best of the best at the pinnacle of the sport and it is the latest stage of what we believe will be the continuing increase in the profile of women’s cricket in the months and years to come.

“There have been other world cups before this – eight in fact and, as the women’s event was first played in 1973, that means it pre-dates the first World Cup for men by two years.

Jack Clark, Isa Guha, Jhulan Goswami, Karen Rolton, Suzie Bates & David Morgan

Isa Guha (second from left) and David Morgan (far right) at the launch of the 2009 Women's World Cup in Sydney today

“But this event, to be played at six venues over 16 days, is the first to come under the ICC’s banner and it is another brick in the wall of women’s cricket, a wall that will grow taller and taller over time.”

England, who are among the favourites, have been drawn in the same group as Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan ahead of the Super Sixes stage.

The other group features hosts and holders Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and West Indies.

Morgan said that in the three years since the ICC took control of the women’s game following its merger with the International Women’s Cricket Council in 2005, significant strides had already been made to take the game forward.

“The number of our members with some form of organised girls or women’s activities has quadrupled in those three years,” he said.

“We have incorporated the women’s cricketer of the year award into the LG ICC Awards ceremony and two weeks ago in Mumbai we launched the Reliance Mobile ICC Women’s Player Rankings.

“And next June we have the ICC World Twenty20 tournament in England, with women’s and men’s events being staged in tandem for the first time, including both semi-finals and the final on the same days at the same venues.

“Having the Women’s World Cup take place in Australia is fitting given that the host is the defending champion and has won the title five times, more than any other side.

“And the fact it is under the ICC’s banner is not only a landmark for the sport but is also entirely appropriate as 2009 is the ICC’s centenary,” he added.