Melbourne: As the Australia women's team is all set to participate in their first-ever Commonwealth Games next year, skipper Meg Lanning said it will be an incredible experience to represent the country at the quadrennial event.
Women's T20 cricket will make its debut at the Commonwealth Games with Australia automatically qualifying due to their No. 1 world ranking as of April 1, 2021. The cricket program begins on July 29, 2022 and concludes with the gold medal match at Edgbaston on August 7, 2022.
"Representing Australia at the Commonwealth Games will be an incredible experience and the team can't wait to take the field in Birmingham next year," Lanning said in the Cricket Australia release.
"It was already shaping up as a huge year with a home Ashes and a World Cup in New Zealand, and a Commonwealth Games takes it to another level. The ICC Women's T20 World Cup in 2020 showed the world just how entertaining and competitive women's 20-over cricket is and the Commonwealth Games will be another opportunity for teams to showcase their talent and determination in front of a global audience," she added.
The six qualifiers who will join home team England in the eight-team competition are Australia, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa and a country from the West Indies who have all qualified as a result of their standings in the ICC Women's T20I Team Rankings as of 1 April 2021.
As per the qualification process, the winner of a designated qualifying event will determine which country from the Caribbean region gets to participate as athletes will be representing their individual countries and not the West Indies as they would at ICC events.
The remaining place will be allocated to the winner of a Qualifying tournament on January 31, 2022.
Australian team Chef de Mission Petria Thomas said it was exciting to begin the team qualification announcements with the world's number one, in an event that will make its Commonwealth Games debut.
"Confirmation of Australia qualification for the inaugural women's T20 cricket tournament at the Commonwealth Games is an important milestone in the countdown to the Birmingham Games," Thomas said.
"This is our first qualified team and we couldn't be more excited that it's in an event which will make its Commonwealth Games debut. We know our all-conquering women's cricketers have a massive year in 2022 — Ashes, World Cup and Commonwealth Games — so it's truly a bumper year of sport for them," he added.
Cricket has featured once before at the Commonwealth Games, albeit in the 50-over format. On that occasion, Australia claimed the silver medal at Kuala Lumpur in 1998 under the captaincy of Steve Waugh.