London: The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Tuesday confirmed its complete line-up for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games after Sri Lanka became the eighth team to qualify following their win in the ICC Commonwealth Games Qualifier 2022 in Kuala Lumpur last week.
Besides Sri Lanka, the other seven women's teams that will compete in the quadrennial games scheduled to begin on July 28, are Australia, Barbados, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa.
The cricket curriculum at the Commonwealth Games will be a league-cum-knockout affair, with Australia and India, the finalists of the 2020 ICC Women's T20 World Cup, set to clash in the opener on July 29. The medal matches will be played on August 7.
Along with Australia and India, Group A also comprises of Barbados and Pakistan, while England, New Zealand, South Africa and Sri Lanka will fight for supremacy in Group B.
This will only be the second time that cricket is going to be part of the Commonwealth Games. The last time was in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur, when the men's teams battled it out with South Africa winning gold under Shaun Pollock's leadership, defeating Steve Waugh's Australia by four wickets in the final.
"It's good to have finalised the identity of the teams participating in the Commonwealth Games, and congratulations to Sri Lanka for making it after playing so well in the qualifier," said Geoff Allardice, the ICC Chief Executive. "We will have eight of the best teams competing for the gold and I am sure we will get to watch a highly competitive tournament.
"The Commonwealth Games are an important part of the women's cricket calendar over the next year. It is a huge opportunity for us to take cricket beyond the traditional strongholds and give more people around the world the chance to enjoy the game, whilst the players are very much looking forward to being part of a multi-sport game."
The Commonwealth Games Federation president Dame Louise Martin picked Sri Lanka out for special praise. "Congratulations to the eight outstanding teams who have qualified for the women's T20 cricket tournament at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games," she said.
"I must pay particular tribute to Sri Lanka, who secured the eighth and final spot by winning such an exciting qualifying tournament in Malaysia last week. They will head to the iconic Edgbaston Stadium in Birmingham with an elite lineup featuring England, Australia, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Barbados and New Zealand."
Chamari Athapaththu, the Sri Lanka captain, was delighted at the prospect of playing in the Games.
"It's a great feeling to have qualified for the Commonwealth Games and all of us are really excited to be part of the multi-sport extravaganza. I'm sure it's going to be a different experience for all of us."
The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will be the first major multi-sport event in history to award more medals to women than men.