Six teams make women's T20I debut
Today in Botswana, a six team Twenty20 tournament began. With the expansion of T20I status to every ICC member already in place for women's teams, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Sierra Leone all made their women's T20I debuts.
In the morning, Namibia restricted Malawi to 53-8 from their 20 overs before chasing their target down in just 5.2 overs to win by 9 wickets. Meanwhile, hosts Botswana batted first against Lesotho and scored 164-4, then bundled their opponents out for just 40 - with extras making up 26 of those - to win by 124 runs.
The hosts then took on Malawi in the afternoon, again batting first, this time scoring 128-6. Extras was again the "top scorer" for their opponents with 29 as they were bowled out for 70 to lose by 58 runs. Also in the afternoon, Sierra Leone bowled Mozambique out for 99, Zainab Kamara taking 4-7 in 1.5 overs. Sierra Leone then chased down their target in 18.3 overs, winning by 6 wickets.
Despite these being official T20Is, the International Cricket Council - the sport's governing body - has not (at the time of writing) published scorecards on their website, with the host Gaborone Cricket Club the only source for the scorecards. This raises questions about how the ICC will handle the increased amount of matches with "full" international status, especially where they take place outside ICC run events.
Already, a bilateral series has happened between the Malaysia and Singapore women's sides with nobody being aware of if the matches were T20Is or not. The three ICC members taking part in the upcoming Women's South American Championship have been told that their matches against each other in that event will be T20Is, but the fixture list on the ICC website has no mention of them.
The ICC has the tendency to rely on third parties such as Cricinfo to provide statistics for international cricket to the general public. But third parties - even ones with the backing of a major name like ESPN - have a bottom line to take care of, and they are only going to live score matches that will get traffic to their website or that the ICC provides them for free. And as important as the four matches today are to the participants, an England v India Test or Ireland v Afghanistan T20I is seen as more important to the general public.
The matches that took place in Botswana today count towards player's career records. They count towards the ICC"s player rankings. Eventually they'll start to count towards the team rankings. The ICC can't always rely on third party websites, national cricket boards and host clubs to provide coverage. Resources are limited, and whilst today the Gaborone Cricket Club has a volunteer updating their website, they may not this time next year.
As the non ICC events with T20I status for women - and for men from January - increase over the years, it will become more and more important for the ICC to ensure that scorecards and statistics from these matches are made available.
This goes beyond T20Is, and one could argue that the ICC should have a full database of all matches that they sanction as official internationals, including Tests, ODIs, T20Is and other internationals including regional qualifiers, World Cricket League matches and similar for both men and women. An official scorecard of every sanctioned international match is sent to the ICC - it's time they did something with them.