T20 World Cup takeaways: Australia's lead at the top and poor fielding standards

The T20 World Cup concluded in front of a crowd of more than 86,000 at the MCG as Australia came through all their challenges to take the title for a fifth time. It was an unprecedented finish to an unprecedented tournament for the women's game. Here are some of the key points that stood out from the 23 matches.

Fielding standards must rise

Australia secured the title amid a superb display of outfielding at the MCG, but that was not the case for many teams across the tournament. A dropped catch in the opening over of the final was a moment India could not recover from. In the aftermath, Smriti Mandhana picked out fielding and fitness (the latter of those also covering running between the wickets) as the area India needed to focus on most. During the group stage there were some very poor fielding displays with Chamari Atapattu referencing 12 dropped catches during Sri Lanka's campaign. Even South Africa, who made the knockouts, had a very poor day against Thailand which left captain Dane van Niekerk frustrated. While batting and bowling strength is down to the skill of players available, there is little excuse for not putting in the hard work to be a consistent fielding side and to be good runners between the wickets.

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Stars of the present and future

Shafali Verma had a difficult match in the final - a first-over dropped catch followed by a first-over dismissal - but the 16-year-old was one of the stars of the tournament. South Africa's Laura Wolvaardt played one of the innings of the competition with her half-century against Pakistan - and repeated the strokeplay in the semi-final against Australia - while Amelia Kerr, who has already been on the international scene for four years and is still only 19, impressed with bat and ball. These are just three names that could be part of a golden generation for the women's game if they continue to be given the opportunity, both in investment and game time, to shine.

The gap is closing

The four semi-finalists were teams who were considered likely contenders before the tournament. However, there were signs throughout that the gap is closing. Pakistan's victory over West Indies was one of their best ever performances, while the fact they faced being toppled by Thailand in the final group match shows that no one could be taken lightly. Sri Lanka gave Australia a big scare in Perth, Bangladesh bowled New Zealand out for 91 and Thailand made 150 for 3 in their final match.

ALSO READ: A celebration for Australia, a celebration for the women's game

More boards are now investing properly in the women's game - if not to the levels of Australia and a lesser extent England - but there are others that still lag behind and may need assistance to further develop the game. It's an opportunity that shouldn't be missed.

West Indies a worry

Champions in 2016, semi-finalists in 2018, but West Indies were so far off the pace in this tournament - continuing a very poor run since the last T20 World Cup - as to raise serious concerns about which direction their game is heading. They made heavy weather of overcoming Thailand and were comfortably beaten by Pakistan and England. Their coach Gus Logie gave one of the most critical assessments of any side in the tournament when he called out his batters for being fearful. Hayley Matthews looked a shadow of the player she can be and, for more understandable reasons, Deandra Dottin could never get going on return from a serious shoulder injury. They face a tough road to rebuilding for next year's 50-over World Cup and next T20 in 2022.

End double-header knockouts

The notion of playing both semi-finals on one day came from good intentions - and if it hadn't rained in Sydney it would have worked - but putting two high-profile matches in the same location on the same day puts a lot of eggs in one basket. Also, there is an argument to say that the women's game is growing enough to justify separate occasions for knockout matches. And there should certainly be reserve days.

Power matters

One the major evolutions of the women's game continues to be the increasing power on display. By one six (76 overall) this tournament had the most of any T20 World Cup. Megan Schutt said she had never been hit for a bigger six than the one struck by Verma in the opening match and Alyssa Healy sent one 83 meters in the final. Touch and placement remain a key part of the game, but they are no longer enough. Teams need to be able to compete with the likes of Healy, Verma, Nat Sciver, Sophie Devine, Wolvaardt and Atapattu. For Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka (aside from Atapattu) and Thailand - although their story of being here was inspirational - that is the side of their game they need to develop.

Australia remain way out on top

It may seem a very obvious thing to say after victory by 85 runs in the final, but it's the fact that up to that point Australia were challenged in every match - and with a host of different problems - that reaffirmed how good they are. Their much-lauded strength and depth was shown by how they covered for Ellyse Perry's injury, they overturned 10 for 3 against Sri Lanka with composure and dug deep against New Zealand and South Africa with everything on the line. India were worthy winners of the opening match of the tournament, but there was a chasm between the teams in the final. That remains the challenge for everyone else: catch them if you can.