Australia arrived in New Zealand this year as favourites to win the World Cup, but considering the way it went last time, you could forgive them for putting less than zero stock in that status.
A semi-final exit in 2017 was viewed as a failure for the defending 50-over champions, widely considered the best team in the world.
The group-stage loss to eventual winners England was not impossible to believe, but the 36-run loss in a rain-affected semi against India seemed to come out of nowhere.
Since then, Australia’s women’s side have been on a mission to reclaim their status as ODI world champions, which they finally achieved with a decisive 71-run win over England in this year’s final.
But they were made to wait for it.
The 2022 Cricket World Cup was supposed to be the 2021 World Cup. In fact, the final was supposed to fall just one day shy of the first anniversary of their famous Twenty20 world title, but COVID intervened.
This year’s decider came 392 days after it was supposed to, and just a tick under five years since their last 50-over World Cup game ended in such disappointment.
Vice-captain Rachael Haynes described that 2017 tournament as Australia’s “crucible moment”.
“It didn’t exactly go to plan,” she said after Sunday’s redemptive win over the old enemy.
As enjoyable as the T20 win in 2020 was, the story would have been incomplete without uniting the world titles.
“It’s something that we’ve been working towards for a long period of time, everyone’s been talking about it for a long period of time, so to finally get over the line was pretty cool,” player of the 2022 final and tournament MVP Alyssa Healy said.
Healy had one of the biggest changes from 2017 to now, going from the middle order to her current role as one of the world’s best openers, capped with a record-breaking 170 off 138 balls to deliver a seventh ODI World Cup win for the women’s side.
But there were less tangible changes as well.
Ellyse Perry, who only played this year’s final after passing a late fitness test and could not bowl, said the whole attitude of the team had shifted “to really take the game on all the time”.
“Something that’s really stood out to me during this tournament is the way the group has dealt with pressure,” she said.
“It didn’t all go our way. We’ve certainly been challenged but we’ve always found our way through.
The Australia side will not have to wait so long for more shots at glory, with T20 cricket featuring at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in July and August, followed by another rescheduled World Cup, the T20 tournament shifted from late 2022 to February next year.