By Yashaaditi Teki

In a stunning showcase of skill, determination, and teamwork, the USA Cricket women’s team emerged victorious at the 2023 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Americas Regional Qualifier in Los Angeles, California. The journey to this triumph was paved with meticulous preparation, a stellar 6-game winning streak, and the unwavering commitment of every player on the squad as the team’s exceptional performance not only showcased the skills on the field but also demonstrated the growing prowess of women’s cricket in the United States.

Preparation and Determination
Prior to the commencement of the tournament, the national women’s team underwent 10 days of rigorous training and preparation in order to get accustomed to the playing conditions of Los Angeles (LA) pitches by getting center-wicket practice sessions. The Captain, Sindhu Sriharsha, mentioned the importance of creating a cohesive team environment.

“As a team we knew that it was important to create a safe environment where players had the freedom to try new things and be okay with failing because it is a key part of a team’s learning processes to accept failures and learn from them.” said Sriharsha. The vice-captain, Geetika Kodali, emphasized the positive impacts of creating this environment on the new blood of the team, stating that “the environment allowed the debutants to express themselves freely and it reflected on their gameday performances as each debutant displayed great performances throughout the tournament.”

Another key focus that helped players prepare for the tournament was their role-clarity throughout the tournament. The captains and the coaches were vocal about each player’s roles during the tournament and put a lot of emphasis on players giving impactful performances and playing for the team. Interim Head Coach Charlotte Dickenson, credited with shaping the team’s strategy and fostering a winning mentality, added that “the team did focus on adapting to the new conditions of LA but most importantly, they focused on adapting to one another, understanding each other’s skill sets and supporting each other on and off the field, and building that camaraderie within the squad was crucial to function as one unit during the tournament.”

USA Captain Sindhu Sriharsha rallying her team. Photo Credit: ICC

A Spectacular 6-Game Winning Streak
The team showcased its dominance with an impressive, six-game winning streak in the tournament. Captain Sriharsha credited the players stating that, “all 14 players played a crucial role in our remarkable 6-game winning streak and we wanted them to develop the mindset that all 14 of them are match winners for the team.”

Vice-Captain Kodali attributed their success to a combination of playing as a team and keeping their processes simple as she mentions that, “the success behind all our games was a team effort and the young players stepped forward in many circumstances to pull the game towards our favor. It was a collective effort from all departments in cricket that played a pivotal role in our victories.”

Debutants Chetna Reddy Pagydyala and Jessica Willathgamuwa made notable contributions to the team’s successes during the tournament. Pagydyala, a young promising left-arm spinner and left-hand batter, demonstrated exceptional bowling skills during her debut game. She shared her excitement and plans and stated that “it was important for me to stay calm and not feel overwhelmed during my first game. I narrowed my focus down to sticking to my processes and being confident in my foundational skills and executing that as best as I can.”

Willathagamuwa, a dynamic left-arm all-rounder, expressed her excitement before her debut game. “It was a special day for me as I have been looking forward to receiving my debut cap for a long time,” she said. “My main focus was to keep myself calm and composed prior to my game and stick to the plans that were given to me during our team meetings which I am grateful for as it helped me to focus on the present moment and enjoy the game.”

Chetna Pagydyala lets one rip at the ICC Americas Regional Qualifier 

Jessica Willathgamuwa is all smiles ahead of her debut for USA. Picture credits: ICC

Looking Forward to the T20 World Cup Global Qualifiers
With their eyes set on the future, the national women’s team is now gearing up for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Global Qualifiers in 2024. Captain Sriharsha expressed her optimism about the challenges that lie ahead. “The competition level at the Globals will be tough, but we will work hard and refine our strategies for this tournament and take our lessons that we learned from the previous Global Qualifiers and use that to be more prepared as a team,” said Sriharsha.

Interim Head Coach Dickenson emphasized the importance of high-level and intensive training as well as exposing the players to different types of challenging scenarios prior to the big tournament. “The key areas of preparation would be to develop a program that would structure the players’ preparation from fitness to skill-training and focus on creating a balance between training loads and taking sufficient breaks both mentally and physically,” Dickenson highlighted.

The victory at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Americas Regional Qualifier is another regional win in the bag for the USA national women’s team. As they bask in the glory of their triumphs, the focus must shift quickly to the future. The combination of experienced players, emerging talents, and dedicated coaching staff would position the team as formidable contenders on the global stage as they set their sights on the Women’s T20 World Cup Global Qualifiers. The team stands united and ready for the challenges that lie ahead.

Team USA celebrating winning the ICC Americas T20 Regional Qualifier. Photo Credit: ICC