Women's Cricket Stars of 2018 - Anya Shrubsole, Suzie Bates, Laura Wolvaardt and more
By Sky Sports Cricket
Last Updated: 08/03/18 2:20pm
On International Women's Day, we look at the female cricketers set to star in 2018…
England's hopes of a fourth World Cup title - and third on home soil - were slipping away at a sold-out Lord's last July as India reached 191-3 chasing 229 for victory. Step forward Anya Shrubsole. The seamer turned the game on its head by bagging five wickets in 19 balls to finish with figures of 6-46 as India were skittled for 219 and England won a thriller by nine runs.
Shrubsole was afflicted by a hamstring strain this winter as England unsuccessfully attempted to regain the Ashes - an 8-8 draw across the multi-format series seeing the Southern Stars retain the trophy - but she will be a key figure for her country in 2018, as well as with Western Storm as the West Country side aim to defend their Kia Super League crown.
The 26-year-old will also become the first woman to appear on the front cover of the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack when the 2018 edition is published in April. Wisden editor Lawrence Booth said: "Anya was a natural for this year's cover, having stolen the show on the most memorable day of the 2017 summer. Shrubsole is Wisden's first female cover star - and, thanks to the excitement she generated that day at Lord's, almost certainly not the last."
New Zealand batsman Bates smashed the first Kia Super League century in August last year, when she struck an unbeaten 112 from 79 balls for Southern Vipers against Loughborough Lightning at Derby. Bates, who hammered 15 fours and four sixes and reached her ton from 63 deliveries, will be back at Vipers in 2018 as captain, with former England skipper Charlotte Edwards having retired at the end of last season.
Bates will also lead New Zealand against England this summer, in a three-match ODI series as well as in T20 Tri-Series also involving South Africa. The 30-year-old is closing in on becoming the highest run-scorer for New Zealand Women in ODIs and will hope to soon topple Debbie Hockley (4,064 runs), while her seam bowling is also not to be underestimated.
England will begin their home summer with three ODIs against South Africa - keeping Laura Wolvaardt quiet could be crucial but that will be no easy task. The teenager became the youngest woman to 1,000 ODI runs last month, reaching the milestone at 18 years and 290 days.
Wolvaardt is also the youngest centurion for South Africa - male or female - after hitting 105 against Ireland at 17 years and 105 days, and one of only three Proteas Women to score two ODI tons, after Johmari Logtenberg and Mignon du Preez. The Cape Town-born player forms a fearsome opening combo with the powerful Lizelle Lee, too.
Lanning was forced to watch Australia's Ashes retention from the sidelines, with a chronic shoulder injury preventing her from skippering the Southern Stars. The 25-year-old has undergone surgery and is now fit to lead her country in India this spring - Australia will play three ODIs against India before both sides contest a T20 Tri-Series also involving England.
If Lanning rediscovers her old form, her opponents will be in trouble. No one has scored more Women's ODI hundreds than Lanning's 11 - the right-hander's most recent a career-best 152 not out against Sri Lanka in Bristol in June - while her innings of 126 against Ireland in a Twenty20 international in 2014 remains the highest score by a female in the format.
Taylor cut a gloomy figure for much of the Women's World Cup as West Indies lost five of their seven games, including a 10-wicket defeat to South Africa when they were shot out for 48. That was in stark contrast to the 2016 Women's World T20 as she captained the side to the title.
Taylor was the top run scorer in the event with 246 across six innings, including a half-century in the final, and snaffled eight wickets to boot as she was named Player of the Tournament. With the next World T20 taking place in her homeland in late 2018, Taylor will be determined to put in another star performance.
Watch England Women in action, plus the Kia Super League and the ICC Women's World Twenty on Sky Sports Cricket in 2018.