Twenty20 World Cup organisers insist the tournament will not fizzle out even if Australia are eliminated early as another twist emerged in the host nation's fight to defend their crown.
Meg Lanning's under-pressure side could be battling the elements as much as their opposition on Monday afternoon with rain forecast to hit Perth during Australia's must-win clash against Sri Lanka at the WACA.
Australia face an early elimination from the World Cup if they cannot beat Sri Lanka on Monday.Credit:Getty Images
The weather bureau is predicting a 70 per cent chance of rain, possibly as much as 15 mm with the risk of a thunderstorm, which could have potentially disastrous ramifications for Australia's hopes of advancing to the semi-finals.
A washout against the world No.8 would effectively be a loss for Australia, robbing them of a point in a game where they are at Winx-like odds to win. Even if they were to beat Bangladesh and New Zealand, that may not be enough to progress if other results do not go their way.
It would be most unfortunate for Australia, and the tournament, if the host nation was to bow out that way, but they have left themselves vulnerable after their failure on opening night.
"You can't really control those types of things. Certainly at a big event like this I suspect if there was rain around the officials and ground staff would do everything in their power to make sure we got a game in," vice-captain Rachael Haynes said.
"We face that challenge tomorrow. It's not of any concern, we'll make sure we play what's in front of us. If the match is affected we'll be prepared for that."
Twenty20 World Cup chief executive Nick Hockley says the tournament will still be a hit even if Australia do not make the final on March 8, pointing to the 2015 men's Rugby World Cup when the semis still drew over 80,000 despite host nations England and Wales bowing out before that stage.
Much of the World Cup marketing, however, has centred on the attempt to break the world record crowd for a women's sporting event at the final, and hopes of getting near the current mark of 90,185 rest with Australia's qualification. The hashtag #filltheG may die with it.
"The success of the overall event is not predicated on any particular team winning, it's predicated on there being some fantastic cricket and everyone getting behind it," Hockley told the Herald.
It's a bit premature to be talking about them not making it through."
"It's a major world event that happens to be happening in Australia.
"On form they're No.1, they're the defending champions, they've just won the tri-series, it's a bit premature to be talking about them not making it through."
Hockley is confident the occasion of a World Cup final will be sufficient lure for fans even if Australia are not there. While interest may drop off locally, Hockley said he noted an increase in coverage in India after their upset win.
"The two things we can't control are the weather and what happens on the field. There's massive communities of all the competing countries living in Australia," Hockley said.
"Beyond that World Cups don't come around every day. It happens on International Women's Day so it can be a broader celebration of how far we've come.
Nick Hockley (back row, left) is the chief executive of the Twenty20 World Cup.Credit:AAP
"Regardless of who's in the finals and semi-finals, you'd like to think people will come along and be a part of hopefully what is a really special and historic occasion. What we see so far is people are really looking forward to it and we're encouraged with where the attendances are currently."
Hockley said he noted a "buzz" on Friday night when a crowd of 13,432 attended the match at Sydney Showground Stadium. It trebled the previous highest turnout for a standalone Twenty20 women's international in Australia of just over 4000, and more than doubled the highest crowd for a women's Twenty20 game in the country of 5650 for a WBBL match in Mackay in January 2019.
"It wasn't a full house but it was a great atmosphere," Hockley said. "Really, I think, we're massively encouraged. It feels like it's a really big major world event.
"We said coming in it would be really competitive. That's been borne out.
"Every game now for Australia is almost a knockout. There'll be a lot of interest. It'll be great to see all the fans get behind the team."
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