Knight: Commonwealth Games can be cricket's showcase for Olympics
Heather Knight admits England's Twenty20 team can help push cricket towards being an Olympic sport again. England start their three-match T20 programme with South Africa in Chelmsford on Thursday holding an unassailable 8-2 lead in the multi-format series, but the skipper is already thinking about the impact playing at the Commonwealth Games could have for the sport as a whole.
England has been confirmed by the ICC as host of the 2026 Women's T20 Cricket World Cup.
This will mark the first time the tournament has been held on these shores since the inaugural edition in 2009 when the hosts lifted the trophy by beating New Zealand in the final at Lord's. © Associated Press Australia are the current Women's T20 Cricket World Cup holders
It follows on from England and Wales hosting the 50-over Women's Cricket World Cup in 2017 when Heather Knight's side claimed glory as well, and ECB interim chief executive officer Clare Connor aims to use the T20 tournament to build on that legacy.
Brunt and Dunkley fire England to series win over South Africa
England cruised to a six-wicket win over South Africa in the first T20I, clinching victory in the multi-format series with two games to play.Katherine Brunt (4-15) starred with the ball, becoming just the second English woman to take 100 T20I wickets, joining the recently-retired Anya Shrubsole on 102.
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"We're absolutely delighted we've been selected to host the 2026 ICC Women's T20 World Cup," Connor said.
"We saw back in 2017 how hosting the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup captured people's imagination and I'll never forget watching Heather Knight lift the trophy on that magical day at a sold-out Lord's.
"Women's cricket has developed rapidly since then, from the numbers of girls picking up bats through All Stars and Dynamos, joining clubs, and being able to progress on a pathway to the highest levels of performance.
"We're seeing right now the positive impact that the UEFA Women's Euro is having for football, and hosting this global cricket event will give us another incredible opportunity to inspire even more girls to pick up a bat and ball."
Brunt becomes England's leading T20 wicket-taker in win over South Africa
Katherine Brunt became England Women's leading T20I wicket-taker and Alice Capsey struck on debut as the hosts beat South Africa by six wickets.Brunt moved onto 103 T20I wickets - one more than the now-retired Anya Shrubsole - when she bowled Laura Wolvaardt for 21 in the final over of South Africa's innings of 148-6 at New Road, a total England went on to top with an over to spare as Nat Sciver (47) top-scored.
The most recent edition of the Women's T20 World Cup took place in Australia two years ago, with the hosts defeating India in the final.
The announcement came at the same time as the ICC confirmed Lord's will host the final of the men's World Test Championship in both 2023 and 2025, while Bangladesh will host a major ICC women's tournament for the first time in 2024 when the T20 World Cup heads there following next year's postponed edition in South Africa.
That will be followed by India hosting the 50-over Women's Cricket World Cup in 2025 and Sri Lanka being the venue for the inaugural Women's Champions Trophy, which will be held as a T20 competition in February 2026.
The six-team Champions Trophy will be followed in June that year by the Women's T20 World Cup in England, which will see the tournament expanded to 12 teams from the 10 currently participating and will feature 33 matches.
Australian women's cricket captain Meg Lanning eyes golden silverware at Commonwealth Games
The Australian women's cricket team's trophy cabinet is already choc-a-block, but with T20 cricket set to make its debut at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, the world's number one side aims to cram in another piece of silverware.The captain of the world's number one side will enter unchartered territory on July 29 when she leads her team out onto the field at Edgbaston for the opening match of the Commonwealth Games.
England's women are currently preparing to take part in the eight-team T20 cricket tournament at this year's Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, with the hosts in Group B along with New Zealand, South Africa and Sri Lanka.
It follows hot on the heels of the recent multi-format series at home to South Africa in which England triumphed 14-2 on points.
"This is a huge year for women's cricket in our country, with England women competing in the Commonwealth Games for the first time, the second year of The Hundred following straight after and then England and India meeting at Lord's as part of our white ball series," Martin Darlow, ECB interim chair, said.
"The women's game is growing at a remarkable pace and hosting the 2026 ICC Women's T20 World Cup will give a further boost to our strategy to make cricket a gender-balanced sport. This is a really exciting opportunity."
Connor: Women's cricket going from strength to strength
Speaking to Sky Sports News following the announcement, former England captain Connor expressed her delight the Women's T20 World Cup will be returning to this country in four years' time and sees it as another sign of the growth being experienced in women's cricket.
England to host the 2026 Women’s T20 World Cup following ICC announcement
A total of 33 fixtures will be played in June in the expanded tournament.With four major tournaments announced from 2024 to 2027, England will play host to the competition for the first time.
"First and foremost, it's a showcase of the best women's teams around the world," Connor, capped 111 times by England in all formats, said. "We're seeing the quality and the impact of women's cricket going from strength to strength.
"The second thing to say is for the first time it will be a tournament featuring 12 teams, so it will be the biggest women's global event we've seen. It's another opportunity for those nations who are pushing their way into the top echelons of the women's game to come over here and stake a claim at that tournament.
"If the last few years are anything to go by with The Hundred, the Women's Cricket World Cup, the evolution of other leagues around the world and the quality of bilateral women's cricket improving all the time and reaching new fans, we're in for another blockbuster tournament hopefully."
Connor is pleased to see how the number of clubs in England and Wales with women's and girls sections has grown to over 1,000 and believes having events like the upcoming Commonwealth Games and the second year of The Hundred on the horizon can help that further in the build-up to 2026.
She is in no doubt bringing these global events to this country will have an impact on women's sport as a whole too, in the same way she sees football's Women's Euro 2022 doing at present.
Rossouw and Shamsi star as South Africa level T20 series against England
Rilee Rossouw's unbeaten 96 laid the foundation for South Africa's commanding 58-run win in the second Twenty20 international against England in Cardiff on Thursday as the Proteas bounced back to level a three-match series at 1-1. Rossouw's innings was the cornerstone of a total of 207-3, with Reeza Hendricks making 53 -- the opener's second fifty in as many days. Left-arm wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi then took 3-27 and all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo 3-39 and paceman Lungi Ngidi 2-11 as England, chasing 208 to win, were dismissed for 149 in the 17th over.
"The women's sport movement is about the more success one team has, the more the whole movement makes progress and more hearts and minds are opened to women's sport which perhaps previously weren't," Connor said.
"We all try to work together across women's sport in a collective fashion and we're in such a different place from when Heather Knight lifted the World Cup five years ago. It's unrecognisable from a general professional organisation of women's cricket and other women's sport, and the effect that is having on participation is enormous.
"We know we've still got a long way to go, but these events are big milestones and something for us all to get behind and make sure we absolutely capitalise on the opportunity." © Associated Press England won the inaugural Women's T20 World Cup in 2009
Hussain: The Hundred pressure produces great stories .
Sky Sports' Nasser Hussain looks ahead to the second edition of The Hundred and the "world-class, world-beaters" set to take centre stageWhat you find out with The Hundred - given then sell-out crowds, and the sizeable audience watching from home - is whether people can do it under pressure.