WORLD CUP FOR QLD WONDER
Australia captain Jodie Fields can seemingly do no wrong at the moment, having led her side to its second ICC Women's World Twenty20 title in October last year, the 28-year-old from Queensland went on to lead her team to a 3-1 ODI series victory over New Zealand in the annual Rose Bowl competition.
One can therefore afford Fields the opportunity of dreaming of taking her second ICC trophy in the space of five months and she believes that Australia has what it takes to claim the ICC Women's World Cup India 2013 when the event begins on 31 January in Mumbai.
Fields spoke before the event that will see Australia open its campaign against fellow Group B side, Pakistan, on 31 January at Bandra Kurla Complex, saying: "We're a really passionate and competitive team. We have a lot of drive and we're always looking to improve our performances as a group and strive for success.
"We're feeling pretty confident going into the tournament. Our squad has been playing good cricket at the domestic level and we're really looking forward to the challenge of the ICC Women's World Cup. We know that we'll face some tough competition from the other teams so we'll have to be on our game, but we don't feel any added pressure coming off our win in Sri Lanka."
Fields is also looking forward to returning to India, a country where her team has had recent success when it visited in March 2012 and won its series 3-0 against the host.
"We're looking forward to heading back to India for this tournament. We toured India in March last year for some 50-over and 20-over matches and we also held a training camp in Sri Lanka prior to the ICC Women's World Twenty20 so we feel confident that most of the squad players will have had experience in sub-continent conditions, which I think will stand us in good stead."
She admits her grouping for the tournament Group B with New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa is by no means an easy group: "Our group for the ICC Women's World Cup has some strong sides and we're expecting some tough games. When we look at each of our opponents we look at them as a team rather than individuals as any team is capable of producing good quality cricket on match day.
"Suzie Bates always leads New Zealand really well and their spinner Morna Nielsen is very impressive. For South Africa, Mignon du Preez is always one to watch out for and as their captain she really leads the team well. Pakistan's Sana Mir is always dangerous and batter Nain Abidi is coming off the back of a great individual tournament at the ICC Women's World Twenty20."
Fields denied that the group was an easier one than Group A which features England, India, West Indies and Sri Lanka: "Within any group each team can play well and win on any given day. Many of the up and coming sides have shown a great deal of improvement in the last few years, which has helped to strengthen women's cricket internationally. We're really looking forward to facing the teams that we don't often have an opportunity to play against."
Fields, who has represented Australia in 57 ODIs since her debut in 2006 heaped praise on her side's victory in Sri Lanka in October 2012 and said there were many positives to carry forward from the event and into the 50-over World Cup: "Our victory at the ICC Women's World Twenty20 was a team effort. Everyone performed exceptionally well throughout the group stages of the tournament to get us into the final and then the team on the day got the job done.
"There are many positives that we can take from this win, such as our ability to perform consistently throughout a tournament and we were pleased to see our batting, fielding and bowling performances all improve throughout the tournament. We have a strong squad with great depth and everyone contributes well. All the players know their roles and each player is just as important as the other and has a crucial role to play in our team.
"Since arriving home from the ICC Women's World Twenty20 our players have been playing our national domestic competitions the WNCL (50-overs) and the Women's T20 competition. The WNCL has provided the players with some 50-over match practice and we've seen some great individual and team performances. We also had the successful Rose Bowl series against New Zealand in December, which is made up of four ODIs, and has been good preparation for the upcoming ICC Women's World Cup in India."
The Women's World Cup has been running for longer than the men's version and was first staged in England in 1973, when it was won by the hosts, which beat Australia by 118 runs in the final at Edgbaston, Birmingham.
Since then there have been a further eight tournaments with Australia winning five of them (1978, 1982, 1988, 1997 and 2005), England winning twice (1993 and 2009) and New Zealand (2000) triumphing once.
The tournament has been staged twice each in England (1973 and 1993), India (1978 and 1997) , New Zealand (1982 and 2000) and Australia (1988 and 2009) as well as South Africa (2005).
The tournament has grown in stature after International Women's Cricket Council merged with International Cricket Council (ICC) in 2005. It was staged under the aegis of the ICC for the first time in 2009.