The first winner at a limited-overs World Cup was, in fact, not West Indies, but the England women’s team, at the first Women’s World Cup in 1973, two years before the first men’s event.
Seven teams – England, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, an International XI and Young England – participated in the event. It was held in a round-robin format, with each team playing the others once, and the top team on points lifting the title. “The tournament created huge public awareness of the very existence of women's cricket,” Rachael Heyhoe-Flint, the England captain, said years later.
England’s Enid Bakewell and Lynne Thomas hit the first centuries of the tournament in its opening match against International XI. Its total of 258 for 1 in that game was the highest until its last game, against Australia, when another century by Bakewell and a fifty by Heyhoe-Flint took England to 279 for 3 in 60 overs and a 92-run win.
England won five of its games, losing only to New Zealand in a rain-affected match. It was closely followed by Australia, with four wins and one no result.
New Zealand and International XI had three wins each, Trinidad and Tobago two, and Jamaica and Young England one each.
Top run-scorer: Enid Bakewell (England) – 264 runs in 6 matches
Top wicket-taker: Rosalind Heggs (Young England) – 12 wickets in 6 matches
India made its debut in the tournament at the event hosted in the country. Only four teams participated: Australia, England and New Zealand joining the home side. Each team played the others once, with the winner being decided on points. The games were played before large, enthusiastic crowds.
Australia was undefeated in the tournament, winning against New Zealand by 66 runs, India by 71 and getting its revenge over England from the 1973 edition with an eight-wicket win in Hyderabad. Put in, the defending champion was reduced to 28 for 6 by the pace of Sharon Ann Tredrea, who finished with 4 for 25, before finally putting up 96 for 8. Glynis Hullah then struck twice as Australia fell to 6 for 2, but a patient effort from Sharon’s sister Janet (37 not out) and Margaret Jennings, the captain (57), completed an eight-wicket win.
England finished the tournament with two wins, while India couldn’t open its account.
Australia’s good form was underlined by the fact that three of the top five batters (Jennings – 1, Sharon – 4, Wendy Hills – 5) and top five bowlers (Sharyn Hill – 1, Sharon – 2, Peta Verco – 5) were all from the cup-winning side.
Top run-scorer: Margaret Jennings (Australia) – 127 in three matches
Top wicket-taker: Sharyn Hill (Australia) – seven wickets in three matches
1982, New Zealand
There were five participants this time around, including an International Women’s XI, but what was noteworthy was the number of matches played. Each team played 12 matches in the round-robin stage, with the two teams at the top of the pile taking each other on in the final.
It was therefore fitting that the most consistent team won the title. In its 12 matches, Australia won a stunning 11. The one it didn’t win was a tie, against England in Christchurch. England, having posted 167 for 8, managed to bowl Australia out with the scores level. Remarkably, it was the second tied contest in the tournament – the clash between England and New Zealand, the second of the edition, had also ended with spoils shared.
The final was again a closely-contested affair. Opting to bat, England posted 151 for 5, largely thanks to Jay Allen’s 53. In response, Australia put in a fine team performance. Jen Jacobs’s 37 was the highest in the innings, and she was closely followed by Karen Read (32), Sharon Ann Tredrea (25) and Marie Cornish (24). Their combined effort ensured Australia sailed home with three wickets and an over to spare.
Top run-scorer: Janette Brittin (England) – 391 in 12 matches
Top wicket-taker: Lyn Fullston (Australia) – 23 wickets in 12 matches
It was once again a five-team tournament, but instead of an International Women’s XI, there were two associate nations making their debuts – Ireland and the Netherlands, while India was missing. The number of matches played also drastically reduced, with each team playing eight games.
The main scrap was once again between Australia and England. Australia won seven and lost one – against England – to finish at the top of the table. England came second, its two losses coming against New Zealand and in its other clash against Australia.
As for the newbies, the Netherlands struggled and lost all eight of its matches. Ireland fared a bit better, winning both its clashes against the Netherlands to avoid the wooden spoon.
The final between the arch-rivals – England and Australia – wasn’t quite the thriller it was in the previous edition. England, batting first, was restricted to 127 for 7, with Janette Brittin’s unbeaten 46 largely responsible for that total. Lyn Fullston, the left-arm spinner, was the pick among the Australian bowlers, returning 3 for 29.
England started the chase spiritedly, reducing Australia to 14 for 2. However, Lindsay Reeler scored an unbeaten 59 and put on an unbroken, decisive 115-run stand with Denise Annetts (48) to seal an eight-wicket victory and Australia’s third title.
Top run-scorer: Lindsay Reeler (Australia) – 448 runs in eight matches
Top wicket-taker: Lyn Fullston (Australia) – 16 wickets in eight matches
The fifth edition was played in England. The tournament was very close to being cancelled until a £90,000 donation from the Foundation for Sport and the Arts allowed it to go on. A total of eight teams featured in the competition, with Denmark and West Indies making their debuts. India, too, made a comeback to the championship.
After the round-robin stage of seven matches for each team, New Zealand and England made the final, the three-time champion Australians losing out. The group stage was dominated by New Zealand, which remained unbeaten, while England’s only loss came against New Zealand, by 25 runs.
In the final, England rode on the 85-runs partnership for the second wicket between Janette Brittin (48) and Carole Hodges (45) to get a good start. In the process, Brittin became the first woman to score 1000 World Cup runs. After them, Jo Chamberlain bludgeoned 38 runs from 33 deliveries to take England to 195 for 5. New Zealand’s reply never took off and it was shot out for 128, giving England a 67-run win.
Top run-scorer: Janette Brittin (England) – 410 runs in 8 matches
Top wicket-takers: Karen Smithies (England) and Julie Harris (New Zealand) – 15 wickets in 8 matches
This edition featured a record 11 teams and was played over 50 overs for the first time. High scores, the lowest total, big crowds, this edition of the tournament offered everything a cricket fan could dream of.
Australian Belinda Clark's 229 not out against Denmark and England’s Charlotte Edwards's 173 not out against Ireland still remain the top two individual scores in women’s cricket history. But, while the tournament recorded four 300-plus totals, Pakistan was dismissed for 27 in a mere 82 balls, still the shortest completed innings in the women’s game.
After some tough competition in the group stages, England, Australia, New Zealand and India made it through to the semi-final. While Australia defeated India by 19 runs in the first, New Zealand took out England by 20 runs in the second game.
New Zealand could only put up 164 in the final, courtesy Debbie Hockley's brilliant 79. Australia got off to a solid start, as Clark (52) led the side from the front and it went past the target in 47.4 overs with five wickets remaining, giving Australians its fourth championship title in front of 80,000 spectators at Eden Gardens.
Top run-scorer: Debbie Hockley (New Zealand) – 456 runs in 7 matches
Top wicket-taker: Katrina Keenan (New Zealand) – 13 wickets in 7 matches
2000, New Zealand
Winner: New Zealand
The seventh edition was hosted by New Zealand and was won by the home side in a cliff-hanger of a final against its Trans-Tasman rival.
The tournament, which featured eight teams, was spread over 31 games in Lincolnshire and Christchurch. Apart from Australia and New Zealand, India, South Africa, England, Sri Lanka, Ireland and the Netherlands took part. All the teams played each other once in a round-robin format, and India and South Africa made it into the final four apart from New Zealand and Australia.
Australia, which went unbeaten into the semi-final, brushed South Africa aside with a nine-wicket win. New Zealand, which had lost to Australia in the group stage, also won easily, beating India by nine wickets.
In sharp contrast to the semi-finals, which were lopsided affairs, the final was a nail-biting affair. Australia, the favourite, was set 185 for victory, and it took a collective effort by the home side bowlers to stop it four runs short with Belinda Clark's 91 going in vain.
Top run-scorer: Karen Rolton (Australia) — 393 runs in 9 matches
Top wicket-taker: Charmaine Mason (Australia) – 17 wickets in 8 matches
2005, South Africa
The tournament format was exactly the same as in the previous edition, and had a new finalist in India, which took on Australia, the pre-tournament favourite.
Australia was the most dominant team through the course of the competition, winning five of its seven round-robin games by big margins, the other two being washed out. India also had two of its games washed out, while it also lost to New Zealand.
In the semi-finals, Australia defeated England by five wickets with Cathryn Fitzpatrick returning 3 for 27 to stop England at 158 and Belinda Clark leading the chase with a knock of 62, while India beat New Zealand by 40 runs, Mithali Raj’s 91 not out and Amita Sharma’s 3 for 24 standing out.
In the final, Australia posted 215 for 4 after Karen Rolton, the No. 3 batter, scored an unbeaten 107. India didn’t stand a chance after that, and was bowled out for just 117.
Highest run-getter: Charlotte Edwards (England) — 280 runs in 6 matches
Highest wicket-taker: Neetu David (India) — 20 wickets in 8 matches
In this, the first edition of the tournament to be organised by the International Cricket Council, the teams were split into two groups, with each team playing the other once. The top three teams from each group then qualified for the Super Sixes. Both England and New Zealand, the eventual finalists, won all their group stage matches and lost one match each in the Super Sixes.
A lot was expected from the home side, but Australia lost to New Zealand in the opening match of the tournament and was also beaten by India in a crucial Super Sixes match. But it bounced back to win the third-place playoff, beating India by three wickets. South Africa and Sri Lanka failed to win any matches in the tournament.
In the Super Sixes match against Pakistan, New Zealand’s Suzie Bates and Haidee Tiffen were involved in a 262-run second-wicket stand – the second-highest partnership in women's One-Day Internationals, and the highest in a women's World Cup match – that set up a massive 223-run win.
In the final at North Sydney Oval, Nicky Shaw, the England pacer, took 4 for 43 to restrict New Zealand to 166 and a solid batting performance then took England to a four-wicket win.
Top run-scorer: Sarah Taylor (England) – 324 runs in 7 matches
Top wicket-taker: Laura Marsh (England) – 16 wickets in 6 matches
The tenth edition of the tournament proved to be a great advertisement for the women’s game. Four teams – Australia, England, India and New Zealand – had already qualified for the main event and were joined by Sri Lanka, South Africa, Pakistan and West Indies, who qualified through the 2011 Women's World Cup Qualifier in Bangladesh.
Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole (England), Megan Schutt and Holly Ferling (Australia) and Jhulan Goswami (India), were the pacers who dominated the bowling charts. While the power-hitting of Eshani Kaushalya (Sri Lanka), Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin (West Indies) was at par with some of their male counterparts.
Sri Lanka sprung a surprise by pulling off a thrilling one-wicket win over England, the defending champion, in the group stage, and even went on to beat India by 138 runs, thus scripting the home side’s exit from the tournament, while Pakistan remained winless.
After suffering heavy defeats to India and England in the group stage, West Indies did a turnaround in the Super Sixes, winning all three games, including first-time wins over New Zealand and Australia.
But in the final, the Jodie Fields-led Australians bounced back in style to beat West Indies by 114 runs and clinch its sixth World Cup title.
Top run-scorer: Suzie Bates (New Zealand) – 407 runs in 7 matches
Top wicket-taker: Megan Schutt (Australia) – 15 wickets in 7 matches
The 11th edition of the premier event was hosted by England, who went on to win the tournament, beating India in the final at Lord’s in a thriller.
The tournament began with a league stage comprising all eight teams, with every side clashing with each other once – the top four teams at the end of the group stage would progress to the semi-finals.
England finished atop the table at the end of the group stages, level on points with Australia, with both teams just losing one fixture each in seven matches. India and South Africa joined them in the semi-finals.
India shocked Australia in their semi-final, with Harmanpreet Kaur smashing a magical 171* off 115 balls – the fifth-highest World Cup score overall, and the highest individual score made by an Indian in the women’s World Cup. In the other semi-finals, England eased past South Africa in a nail-biting thriller, with just two balls remaining, to set up a cracking finale.
India looked primed to chase down England’s 229-run target in the final, having reached 191/3 in the 43rd over. However, a collapse, triggered by the nerveless Anya Shrubsole, who returned 6/46 – the best figures in a women’s World Cup final – helped England snatch victory in front of a near full-house at Lord’s.
Top run-scorer: Tammy Beaumont (England) – 410 in 9 matches
Top wicket-taker: Dane van Niekerk (South Africa) –15 wickets in 7 matches