Composite: Sophie Molineux, Shafali Verma, Amelia Kerr and Laura Wolvaardt
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Feature

20 women cricketers for the 2020s

From Molineux to Verma, from Kerr to Wolvaardt: the players we think will dominate the decade

The 2010s were a period of big strides for women's cricket: there were 1237 internationals, compared to only 486 in the previous decade, and 1455 players debuted for their countries compared to 662 in the 2000s. With participation increasing, so did the number of tournaments and the money on offer. There were seven World Cups and two world-class franchise T20 leagues were introduced (though one has since been scrapped). At the moment, the top nine international teams all offer central contracts to their players.

The fan base for women's cricket grew sizeably in the last decade and many top international players, like Ellyse Perry, Meg Lanning, Alyssa Healy, Sana Mir, Harmanpreet Kaur, Suzie Bates, Sophie Devine, Deandra Dottin, Stafanie Taylor, Anisa Mohammed, Sarah Taylor, Katherine Brunt and Shabnim Ismail became global stars.

Who will be the stars of the future? The 2020s kicked off with a record crowd at the T20 World Cup final and (subject to the future of our species itself) are looking like they could be the best decade for the sport so far.

Like for our men's 20 for 2020s list, we asked players, coaches and commentators in the women's game for their inputs on the exciting young talent available today. Sana Mir, Suzie Bates, Merissa Aguilleira, Shashikala Siriwardene, Laura Marsh, Reema Malhotra, Leah Poulton, Dinesha Devnarain, Trevor Griffin, the Sydney Thunder coach, who has also coached in the KSL and worked with England, and Ben Sawyer, the Sydney Sixers head coach, joined our staff in the exercise. Since women's cricket tends to have a larger number of younger international players than men's, we decided to put in place an age limit instead of a matches-played limit - they had to be under 22 by December 31, 2019. The names appear in no particular order.

Please remember to write us in 2030 to tell us whether we got it right or wrong.

William West / © AFP/Getty Images

Shafali Verma

16, India, opener
That India made it to their maiden women's T20 World Cup final earlier this year without any of their batters scoring a half-century was largely down to Verma's belligerence at the top. A find of the 2019 Women's T20 Challenge, her swashbuckling strokeplay is unlike anything the world has seen from an Indian batter. She made her international debut at 15, and is the youngest Indian woman to play T20I cricket and the youngest Indian across genders to make an international half-century. She briefly rose to the top of the T20I rankings during the 2020 T20 World Cup, her first world tournament, and finished as India's leading run scorer, with the best strike rate across teams. - Annesha Ghosh

My hero: "Sachin Tendulkar. My family loves him and I grew up in an environment where the one cricketer my family members would speak of most is Sachin sir."

Biggest ambition: "Just to keep performing consistently well for India, so I can win a lot of games for our country."

Favourite match: "My first World Cup match - the T20 World Cup game I played against Australia in February in Sydney."

Expert eye: "At such a young age, Shafali has shown glimpses of what an exciting young talent she is. Her natural power and ball-striking abilities allow her to clear the ropes with ease. As she learns and develops her game, I think we will see her win many games for India in the future." - former England allrounder Laura Marsh

Patrick Hamilton / © AFP/Getty Images

Sophie Molineux

22, Australia, allrounder
A left-arm spinner and middle-order batter, Molineux has so far played the majority of her international cricket in the T20 format. She dealt with multiple injuries and mental-health issues to return to the side for the semi-final and final of the T20 World Cup, taking a wicket each in the matches. Her six ODI appearances include a gap of two years, but she already has 12 wickets at an average of under 10 and is regarded as a top-six batter. - Andrew McGlashan

My hero: "My dad would have to be my hero. He was the first person to put a bat in my hands and all I wanted to do as a kid was to play like him and with him. His passion for the game has always been infectious and he's always the first person there for support."

Biggest ambition: "Having a positive impact on the game both on and off the field while enjoying the ride."

Favourite match: "I have a couple. The obvious one is the T20 World Cup final at the MCG. It was such a special day for everyone and a real honour to be a part of. The other is playing my first game with my dad. We put on a 100-plus-run partnership for West Bairnsdale Cricket Club."

Expert eye: "A lot of people speak about Sophie in glowing terms and rightfully so. We just try and provide an environment where she can be herself. There's such a consistent quality now to her spin that she makes her way into any side as a bowler." - Melbourne Renegades head coach Lachlan Stevens

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Laura Wolvaardt

21, South Africa, top-order batter
Age is nothing but a number for Wolvaardt, who was playing Under-19 cricket when she was 11. At 17, she became South Africa's youngest ODI centurion, and her 18 fifties are the most by a 21-year-old in international cricket. Wolvaardt is a clean striker of the ball and has one of the smoothest cover drives in the game. She has also recently begun to show her ability to up the ante with an improved T20 strike rate. - Firdose Moonda

My hero: "My mom is my hero. She is my No. 1 supporter and my biggest inspiration."

Biggest ambition: "To win a World Cup with South Africa."

Favourite match: "Probably the semi-final vs Australia at the recent T20 World Cup. Even though we lost that game, I think we learnt a lot from it as a team and are better cricketers because of it."

Expert eye: "Wolvaardt is becoming one of the greatest we'll ever see. Her game went through the roof during the last 12-18 months and she's only 21! I hope I'll still be here to see her grow into a definite South African legend, if not a global star. She has so much potential, not just as a cricketer but as a leader as well." - Dane van Niekerk, South Africa captain

Ryan Pierse / © Getty Images

Sophie Ecclestone

21, England, left-arm orthodox spinner
Well established in the England team, having made her debut at 17, Ecclestone is the world's No. 1 bowler in T20Is and at this year's World Cup became the youngest woman to take 50 wickets in the format. By turning the ball away from the right-hander, using her height and variations to deceive, she forces the majority of batsmen to be wary, which can only help in her quest to become one of the best to ever play the women's game. - Valkerie Baynes

My hero: "Former Everton midfielder Tim Cahill. Everton have always been a passion of mine. I watch as much as I can, and he was my favourite player."

Biggest ambition: "Winning back-to-back World Cups. We hold the ICC Women's World Cup trophy and it would be amazing to defend that in New Zealand in 2022."

Favourite match: "My first Test match in Australia in the Ashes. My parents were there to see me get my cap and it just felt so special."

Expert eye: "She has proven in her short career so far that she is a world-class performer. Her strength as a bowler comes from the shape she gets on the ball and she has deceived many of the world's best batters. She has a huge amount of potential with the bat and I wouldn't be surprised to see her develop into a match-winning middle-order batter for England." - Laura Marsh

Nathan Stirk / © Getty Images

Issy Wong

18, England, fast bowler
Pace potential is the buzz around Issy Wong, who, at 17, with a smooth run-up, energetic attack on the crease, and a sound technical action, was already hitting the 70mph mark and has 80mph firmly in her sights. She was drafted into the Birmingham Phoenix for the Hundred, and as part of the England Women's Academy squad, was included in the senior training bubble ahead of the T20 series against West Indies. While she didn't play, she will certainly benefit from the experience. - Valkerie Baynes

My hero: "My cricketing hero is Katherine Brunt, and my hero off the cricket field is Fernando Torres."

Biggest ambition: "To win a World Cup."

Favourite match: "The 2017 World Cup final [I was in the stands watching], or the last Warwickshire game [the Birmingham Bears Women] of last year where we won the T20 league."

Expert eye: "Issy's got X-factor - she bowls quick, she wants to bowl quick. She's a lovely girl, really respectful, but when she gets on the pitch, she plays it hard. I'm really excited for her future. The England team needs someone who can bowl quick. And she's got a great personality as well." - Charlotte Edwards, former England captain, now Sky Sports commentator and Southern Vipers head coach

Gareth Copley / © Getty Images

Shabika Gajnabi

20, West Indies, allrounder
Gajnabi holds the promise of carrying West Indies' batting as they begin to imagine life without their long-time flagbearers Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin. She is an aggressive right-hand top-order batter who can also delivery handy medium pace. Gajnabi comes from Albion in Guyana - a small town of around 2000, from where former Test batsman Narsingh Deonarine also came. She used to train with the boys' team for match time at the town's only facility. Gajnabi became a part of Guyana's U-19 team as a 13-year-old, and five years later made her international debut against Australia. - Shashank Kishore

My hero: "Rohit Sharma. His languid shots, the time he has to play them, how he hits them without really intending to muscle the ball - all these really got me hooked to his batting. Also, I like him as a leader. He is very calm, trusts his players, and gives them the confidence to express themselves."

Biggest ambition: "To be among the top ten female cricketers in the world. Playing for West Indies was a huge dream, of course, but that has been ticked off. I look forward to playing consistently."

Favourite match: "The 2016 Women's T20 World Cup left a huge impression on me. The campaign we had as a team, the manner in which we won - beating Australia in a tense final - was an incredible feeling. Also, not to forget the men's team also winning the same night. That stands out."

Expert eye: "Gajnabi is a humble and joyful individual. She is a student of the game, the type who will stick around with the seniors, try to listen to them and soak in as much advice as possible. With the bat, she is fearless. If a spinner comes on, she will not hesitate in trying to step out and unsettle them. With the ball, she is very consistent. Her biggest quality is her willingness to learn new things and the heart to take on any challenge given to her." - former West Indies captain Merissa Aguilleira

Jono Searle / © Cricket Australia/Getty Images

Amelia Kerr

20, New Zealand, allrounder
Kerr's rise up the ranks to becoming an established allrounder in the New Zealand set-up comes as no surprise. After school, Kerr and her sister Jess would often train with their grandfather, Bruce Murray, who represented New Zealand in 13 Tests. In 2018 she became only the second woman - after Belinda Clark - to score a double-century in ODIs. Kerr is an excellent fielder, has a deceptive googly, and is now an in-demand T20 cricketer in leagues around the world. - Shashank Kishore

My hero: "Sophie Devine. I've grown up watching and admiring her. My dad coached her when I was probably two years old! That was when Sophie started for Wellington. Seeing how successful she has been and now to playing alongside her is awesome. She captains the White Ferns now, and seeing the belief she has in her team-mates, the confidence she gives us, it makes you feel awesome."

Biggest ambition: "I just want to be the best I can be. Every game, every training session, I'm very competitive, so it's about bringing the best version of me. The dream is to win a World Cup, and we'll have an opportunity to do it in front of our home fans in 2022."

Favourite match: "Watching that T20 final at the MCG with a packed house - myself and the rest of the White Ferns wish we could have been there. But just watching that game and the atmosphere was something else. Both India and Australia deserved to be there. It was a great signal for women's sport, the fact that those many people wanted to watch us play was something else. Probably it wouldn't have happened ten years ago."

Expert eye: "Amelia is a very skilful and composed young cricketer. She is often thrown the ball in the key moments of the game. Tactically she is smart and has a variety of skills to back it up. She is also a more than handy batter. She has an extremely bright future ahead with both bat and ball." - Laura Marsh

Paul Kane / © Getty Images

Jemimah Rodrigues

20, India, batter
A solid top-order right-hand batter, Rodrigues' fearless shot-making during her maiden international fifty, in 2018, came in for praise from opposition captain Meg Lanning. Soon after, former England captain Nasser Husain said that Rodrigues, only 17 at the time, would be "a star for India". She is only the second Indian to score a double-hundred in domestic U-19 cricket and the first Indian woman to score a fifty on T20 World Cup debut. Rodrigues' fledgling careers in basketball and hockey, forsaken in favour of cricket, underpin her brilliance as a fielder. A vivacious presence both on the field and off it, she has featured in two T20 World Cups and the Women's Cricket Super League in the UK, and has been on the radar of several WBBL franchises since her debut. - Annesha Ghosh

My hero: "My mom and dad. The way my dad works hard and doesn't ever allow himself to get complacent - he always sets an example for the rest of us in the family, including my siblings, to follow. And my mom's knack for caring for and loving everyone is a trait I greatly admire."

Biggest ambition: "To win multiple World Cups for India. I would also want to be remembered as someone who adds value to the lives of other people and helps them succeed in life."

Favourite match: "The 2011 men's ODI World Cup final at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. I was barely 11 at the time, but I remember vividly watching people celebrate that World Cup victory as though they themselves had participated in the match and won India the game. After watching the match on TV, my family and I went out on to the streets in our car and not a nook or corner of Mumbai appeared to be empty. Restaurants were giving food away, crackers were being burst - at the time I was not able to grasp how big the occasion really was, but now that I play for India, I can't wait for the day we win the World Cup."

Expert eye: "For someone built small, she has amazing power. Her ability to pierce gaps and access different parts of the field makes her a difficult batter to bowl at. Her perseverance and hard work has brought her to where she is today. For someone to become such a vital player in a national team within a year and a half of debut speaks volumes of the player she is. India's batting is in safe hands." - Ramesh Powar, former India women's coach

Cameron Spencer / © Getty Images

Tayla Vlaeminck

21, Australia, fast bowler
An accurate quick bowler, already one of the fastest in the world, Vlaeminck is regarded as a potentially game-changing player, but injuries have interrupted a promising start. She made her T20I debut in the 2018 T20 World Cup but was ruled out of the 2020 event and subsequently the 2020-21 WBBL with a foot injury and will be carefully managed ahead of a jam-packed 2022 schedule. - Andrew McGlashan

My hero: "My cricket hero at the moment is Mitch Starc. I love the way he approaches his bowling and his attitude to always back himself regardless of the situation."

Biggest ambition "To one day be a part of a World Cup-winning side."

Favourite match: "Playing in the Ashes Test was an amazing experience and something I never thought I'd get the opportunity to be a part of."

Expert eye: "Tayla has established herself as one of the premier fast bowlers in international cricket. I have no doubt she will bounce back and play a leading role in Australian squads for many years to come." - Australia coach Matthew Mott after Vlaeminck was ruled out of the T20 World Cup

Nathan Stirk / © Getty Images

Sarah Glenn

21, England, legspinner
A revelation since her international debut in late 2019, Glenn has adapted to the highest level with confidence, as top players are finding out - Beth Mooney, Meg Lanning, Deandra Dottin, Stafanie Taylor and Javeria Khan feature among her early wickets. Glenn's accuracy often gives the batsman no option but to play and she has become a key part of England's young spin brigade - one with hopes of becoming a genuine allrounder; her Player-of-the-Series performance in the recent T20Is against West Indies showcased her considerable potential with the bat. - Valkerie Baynes

My hero: "Wayne Madsen. He's been such a good player for Derbyshire for so long."

Biggest ambition: "To be part of a tournament-winning side."

Favourite match: "Playing my first men's senior game with my brother, my sister, my dad and my cousin."

Expert eye: "She's been fantastic over the last 12 months. She and Sophie Ecclestone in the middle there throughout the T20 format has really changed the game for us and made us competitive in that middle phase to take wickets, and she's been a big instigator of getting those wickets with Soph." - Lisa Keightley, England Women's head coach

Cameron Spencer / © Getty Images

Nadine de Klerk

20, South Africa, allrounder
A former javelin thrower, de Klerk is a powerful athlete who can hit the ball long and bowl it heavy. She already provides the squad with bowling depth and has shown the temperament to be able to take on pressure situations from early on in her career. And now she has the potential to play the finisher's role in South Africa's middle order. - Firdose Moonda

My hero: "My dad. He's the reason I am here today and I would not have been able to do this without him. I'm just so grateful for a father like him."

Biggest ambition: "I want to leave behind a legacy and be an example for young girls dreaming of playing cricket, not only as a cricketer but also a person off the field".

Favourite match: "Definitely the T20 World Cup semi-final against Australia! Firstly, the atmosphere and the support was amazing. And to contribute for my team in such a crucial match was really special."

Expert eye: "She's a very tough competitor and such a diverse allrounder. I saw her playing at U-13 level and I already knew then that she was going to play for South Africa. The way she put up her hand in the T20 World Cup semi-final this year was incredible to see as a captain. She wears her heart on her sleeve and it's great to see a player like her doing so well and get the opportunities she's been given to grow her game." - Dane van Niekerk

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Radha Yadav

20, India, left-arm spinner
She had a shaky initiation into international cricket at 17 but from there, Yadav evolved into a confident and consistent aggressive wicket-taking option for India in T20Is. One of three Indians in the ICC's 2019 T20I Team of the Year, she achieved a career-best No. 2 T20I bowling ranking late last year and has taken at least one wicket in each of her 24 T20I outings since mid-November 2018. An assured finisher with the bat, Yadav was part of the Supernovas' title-winning campaign in the 2019 Women's T20 Challenge. Her agility on the field played a vital role in India qualifying to the knockouts of the 2018 and 2020 T20 World Cups. - Annesha Ghosh

My hero: "Virat Kohli, primarily because of his passion and aggression. Whenever I feel like I need to motivate myself, I watch his batting videos for hours, even though I'm a primarily a bowler."

Biggest ambition: "Just to make India win whenever I play."

Favourite match: "The 2011 ODI World Cup final. The title victory aside, it's hard say why it's a favourite, but I do remember it was after this match that I became adamant about playing cricket."

Expert eye: "Her biggest strength is the passion for the game. Around the time she was knocking on the door of the Indian team, there were already two established left-arm spinners in Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Ekta Bisht. It can get to you at times when you struggle to break into the XI, but at no stage did she lose her confidence or enthusiasm. She is a much different bowler to the other two. She can also bat and is an excellent fielder. If you challenge her, she won't hesitate to ask questions. If she thinks we can adopt a different plan, she will let you know. That's just a sign of her self-confidence." - Ramesh Powar

Jono Searle / © Getty Images

Omaima Sohail

23, Pakistan, batter
A Player-of-the-Series award in her maiden T20I series, against Australia in 2018, established Sohail's credentials as a young talent on whom much of Pakistan's success as a batting unit will rely in the future. She uses her feet to good effect against both spinners and fast bowlers, has the ability to soak in the pressure at the top of the order, and has often doubled up as her side's sixth bowling option courtesy of her medium pace. She has been part of two T20 World Cup campaigns - in 2018 and 2020. - Annesha Ghosh

My hero: "I have always looked up to MS Dhoni for the way he finishes games, the way he remains calm under pressure, and for his cricketing intellect. Like him, I want to try and do my bit to keep my team in the contest till the very last minute and help them get over the line."

Biggest ambition: "I have given myself five years to get into the league of the best players in the world. I want to be in the top ICC rankings within this span, Inshallah."

Favourite match: "My T20I debut against Australia in 2018. Nothing has so far come closing to matching the excitement of that game. I also remember it because both my team and I had performed reasonably well in that outing."

Expert eye: "When she made her debut against Australia, her fearlessness was on display for everyone to see. She barely showed any nerves. I was quite impressed with how she took to the international stage and with her self-confidence. She doesn't pay much heed to the stature of the bowler, which allows her to go about her business with clarity of thought, and that's one trait that will take her places." - Bismah Maroof, Pakistan captain.

Kelly Defina / © Getty Images

Georgia Wareham

21, Australia, legspinner
A wristspinner with lovely flight and drift, Wareham has become an established member of Australia's strong spin attack that dominates with the white ball. Expected to remain on the fringes of the 2020 T20 World Cup squad, Wareham ended up helping Australia clinch the semi-final spot with 3 for 17 against New Zealand, which included the wickets of Sophie Devine and Suzie Bates. - Andrew McGlashan

My hero: "My hero growing up and to this day is Michael Jordan, because of the way he approached his sport and how he got the best out of himself and his team-mates. In a cricket sense, it would probably be Shane Warne, purely because of the way he bowled and how successful he was. I always tried to be like him in the backyard and he was a major reason as to why I took up legspin."

Biggest ambition: "It's pretty simple - to be the best athlete I can be."

Favourite match: "It would easily be the T20 World Cup final at the MCG in front of more than 86,000 fans. It was such a surreal experience and something that will be hard to beat."

Expert eye: "What she does is the hardest art of the game. Legspinners, like all players, ebb and flow for a whole range of reasons so it's about her learning her craft. She had a wonderful [2020 T20] World Cup, she's such a talented young person and is really cricket-savvy as well." - Lachlan Stevens

Nathan Stirk / © Getty Images

Sheneta Grimmond

22, West Indies, allrounder
Grimmond possesses an aggressive game, the thirst to strike the ball big, and a desire to emulate the consistency of her idol, Stafanie Taylor, whom she resembles at the crease. Grimmond, like team-mate Gajnabi, rose through a shallow junior structure, standing out not only because of her physical ability but also her cricket smarts. - Shashank Kishore

My hero: "We didn't have a TV for a long time. It was just a radio that I used to listen to with my grandfather. We only got a TV very recently and whatever little cricket I could watch on it, I admired Stafanie Taylor a lot - for the game and the power she brings."

Biggest ambition: "To become one of the top five batters in the world and a key member of the West Indies women's team."

Favourite match: "The 2016 Women's T20 World Cup campaign was special. Everyone thought Australia were favourites, but we proved everyone that night. To be champions for the first time was an incredible feeling. We all celebrated that night."

Expert eye: "Her maturity is her hallmark. She has all the requisites to be a quality player in international cricket. She is an outstanding fielder. With the bat, she is fearless. She currently bats in the middle order but has the potential to become a fantastic opener. Also, she is more than a useful spinner. I played against her a couple of years ago, and what struck me was her ability to take the bowlers on right from the outset. Suddenly she just transformed her game to the next level and hasn't looked back since." - Merissa Aguilleira

Cameron Spencer / © Getty Images

Murshida Khatun

21, Bangladesh, opener
The only left-hand batter to play for Bangladesh women, Khatun, a Khulna native, known by her nickname "Happy", fell in love with the game in her teens after watching Tamim Iqbal, the Bangladesh men's left-hand opener. In Smriti Mandhana, India women's opener, Khatun found someone to model her game on. Like Mandhana, she has a potent cover drive in a largely off-side-dominant range of strokes and has evolved into a reliable and versatile opener. Her 26-ball 30 against India in the T20 World Cup this year offered a glimpse of the solidity she could lend to the wobbly Bangladesh top order in the years ahead. - Annesha Ghosh

My hero: "My mom, Haowa Khatun. She's been the strongest pillar of support I've had in my life. When I am in low spirits, I try to spend time with Ma. Even if it's just ten minutes, I start feeling better after being with her. She's played a huge role in my being able to pursue cricket as a career."

Biggest ambition: "I want to be in the top ten batting rankings in both ODIs and T20Is and the leading run getter in a few World Cups."

Favourite match: "My debut in South Africa in 2018 didn't go to plan. I couldn't score well. On my way back home, I was told by a selector at the airport that I would be rested for the following series and wouldn't be part of the national camp. That was a difficult moment for me, so I decided to work hard and come back stronger. The next time I got to tour for Bangladesh, a year later for an Emerging series in South Africa, the 40-odd runs I scored became a turning point. I got a recall to the senior side based on that."

Expert eye: "Happy is one of the fittest players in the Bangladesh team. For a player so young to place such importance on their fitness speaks of their ambition to be one of the best in the world. Her being a left-hander is a big advantage as an opener. And her knack for assessing her shortcomings as a cricketer and willingness to work on them sets her apart. She is curious and hungry to be better, and I believe she can serve Bangladesh cricket as a solid opener for years if she keeps this work ethic up." - Jahanara Alam, Bangladesh allrounder

Steve Bell / © Getty Images

Phoebe Litchfield

17, Australia, batter
Regarded as one of the most precocious batting talents in the game today, Litchfield has already made a mark in the WBBL and WNCL and been elevated to the Australia A side. She has a 360-degree game as a right-hand batter, aided by her left-hand hockey skills. Cricket will eventually be her sole focus, but for now she continues to play hockey. - Andrew McGlashan

My hero: "Cathy Freeman - the way she proved to everyone that it doesn't matter who you are, you can still be the best in the world."

Biggest ambition: "To score a century for Australia."

Favourite match: "The 2020 T20 World Cup final. The game was amazing, but the significance of the match was so powerful and great to watch live."

Expert eye: "Phoebe is a highly talented young cricketer. We saw some of the things she could do last year; first game in a WBBL, she had the confidence to play a ramp shot. She can hit over the top, she runs well between the wickets. She's a confident young lady, and the reason why we talk about her is because of the quality of the skills she has." - Sydney Thunder head coach Trevor Griffin

Daniel Pockett / © Getty Images

Richa Ghosh

17, India, batter
Bengal wicketkeeper-batter Ghosh thrust herself into the national reckoning on the back of an industrious campaign in the 2019-20 Challenger Trophy. She struck a confident run-a-ball 18 in the T20 World Cup final after walking in to bat as a concussion substitute. In the Women's T20 Challenge in the UAE, she kept wicket for the Trailblazers, the side Smriti Mandhana led and impressed with her quick-scoring abilities en route to her side's title victory. - Annesha Ghosh

My hero: "My father, Manabendra Ghosh. I acquired my love of cricket from him because he used to play at the club level before becoming an umpire with the Cricket Association of Bengal. He didn't get much support from his family but he made sure my dreams were given the wings to fly. I also look up to Sachin [Tendulkar] sir."

Biggest ambition: "To become the India captain and lead the team to victory in every game I play, especially in major tournaments like the Asia Cup and the World Cups."

Favourite match: "The T20 senior women's domestic game I played for Bengal against Delhi this season in Rajkot. I scored some 60 runs in under 30 balls. That innings played a crucial role in my India call-up ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia."

Expert eye: "I played against her at the T20 tournament last year. I was captaining Delhi and Bengal were 18 for 4. Richa Ghosh came in and just transformed the game. I had heard she is a strong leg-side player, so the field was set accordingly. But against our spinners, she created room and played some amazing lofted shots inside out over cover and long-off. When I moved the field around, she walked across to hit between deep square and deep midwicket. She made 63 in just 36 balls. We lost the game because of that knock alone. She has excellent game sense for someone so young. At the nets, I noticed her practising the sweep. I've not seen youngsters have that level of attention to detail. She will go a long way. I'm not surprised at all at how quickly she has graduated to being an India player." - Reema Malhotra

Ryan Pierse / © Getty Images

Kavisha Dilhari

19, Sri Lanka, allrounder
A street-smart fingerspinner with the pluck of a seasoned batter, Dilhari made a splash at 17, in just her second international match, when she Dilscooped a four during nervy ODI chase against India. A stress fracture in March 2019 sidelined her from top-flight cricket for the best part of the year, but a strong comeback in the Asian Cricket Council Women's Emerging Team's Cup as Sri Lanka's leading wicket-taker paved the way for her second T20 World Cup appearance earlier this year. - Annesha Ghosh

My hero: "I keep watching Virat Kohli's videos. The shots he plays, the way he runs between the wickets, how he approaches chases - there is so much to learn. But yes, growing up in Sri Lanka, being a woman, you always wanted to emulate Shashikala Siriwardene. Another favourite of mine is Meg Lanning, who I have had the privilege of bowling to and it was quite an amazing experience. What they have done for the women's game is immense."

Biggest ambition: "I want to be the No. 1 allrounder in the world in the next five years. It'll be amazing to single-handedly win games for Sri Lanka. Sport is all I wanted to do as a small girl. When my school cricket team didn't have enough numbers to make up a team for a tournament, our coach asked me if I'd be interested because he saw me have a keen interest in sport. That day, I thought if I can play well, I could make this my No. 1 sport. From there to play for Sri Lanka, it has been a dream."

Favourite match: "It's from the home series against India in 2018. India had made 253 and we were 241 for 7. I went out and got 12 not out. I was nervous going in to bat, but the feeling of winning the game was something else. That effort infused a lot of self-belief in me. That was a turning point of sorts in my career, so I'll always remember that game."

Expert eye: "I feel she is like me; in my little age, I used to be like her - aggressive, wanting to do more, wanting to prove myself through my cricket. She is one of the best young players in Sri Lanka, in the world and I trust her to be one of our best of all time." Sri Lanka captain Chamari Athapaththu

Tracey Nearmy / © Getty Images

Annabel Sutherland

19, Australia, allrounder
Viewed as a potential successor to Ellyse Perry, Sutherland was picked in Australia's 2020 T20 World Cup squad before she had been capped at the international level. On her T20I debut, against England in the tri-series that preceded the tournament, she secured a Super Over win with an unbeaten 22 off 11 balls. When Meg Lanning was injured in the ODI series against New Zealand in October, Sutherland was promoted to No. 3. - Andrew McGlashan

My hero: "I loved Andrew Symonds because of his fearless nature with everything he did on the cricket field. He also wore zinc, and he happened to give me a drink bottle when I was young and in awe of him!"

Biggest ambition: "To be the best I can be as a player and team-mate. And maybe finish my Uni degree at some point."

Favourite match: "How could you go past the 86,000-plus fans at the MCG on March 8 with Katy Perry as the encore!"

Expert eye: "She's really building nicely. You watch her game and know she can hit the ball hard now and is willing to take a few more risks and put the bowler under pressure. [I'm] looking forward to seeing how she goes." - Meg Lanning, Australia captain

Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor. Valkerie Baynes is a general editor. Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor. Firdose Moonda is the South Africa correspondent

 

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