Cue the superlatives because this team is in rarefied air.

The Australian women’s cricket team’s 19-run victory over South Africa in the final of the women’s T20 World Cup is just the latest win for a team that refuses to lose.

As was the case in the semi-final victory over India, Australia was under pressure at times, but once again found a way to win.

“We’ve been longing for this moment since the last World Cup, and I think we’ve played some fantastic cricket throughout this tournament, and I guess today just showed that,” said Australian all-rounder and player of the tournament Ash Gardner.

“We probably weren’t in winning positions through the game, but we scrapped, and we fought, and we bowled the absolute house down so I’m just super proud of this group.”

It’s been a feature of this team that there’s always someone to step up when required.

Gardner was the star during this tournament, with crucial contributions with both bat and ball, making 110 runs at a strike rate of 120 and taking 10 wickets at an average of just 12.5, with an economy rate of 6.25 runs per over.

Australia's Ash Gardner waits with bat poised to hit a shot square on the leg side during the T20 World Cup final.
Ash Gardner’s quickfire batting has been vital for Australia, but she is also a match-winner with the ball, taking 5-12 against New Zealand.(AP: Halden Krog)

But those figures don’t do justice to Gardner’s ability to produce for her team at the exact moment when it needs it.

During this tournament, she took a career-best five-for-12 against New Zealand and scored a vital 31 of just 18 balls in the semi-final against India.

Her purchase by the Gujurat Giants for the inaugural Women’s IPL for $558,000 looks like money well spent.

It’s hard to imagine a sportswoman in a better place right now than Ash Gardner, but if her personal finances are secure, that seemingly ranks second to the gratification she feels to be part of this all-conquering team.

“I don’t think words can describe how proud I am,” she said, while up winning her player of the tournament award.

“It’s something that we always talk about, is being the best that we can.

“We always try to evolve as individuals, we want to grow the game globally and we want to have that impact globally, and I think as a team we’re doing that,” Gardner said.

If having an “impact globally” is a euphemism for winning everything in sight, then this team is most certainly having an impact.

You have to go back to March 2021 to find the last time Australia lost a T20 international (although they did lose to Ireland of all teams in a warm-up match before this tournament).

They’ve been undefeated in their last 28 T20 matches — a run that includes one tie and three washed-out games.

This decade, the team has played 44 T20 internationals, winning 33 and losing just four.

In that time, they’ve won two T20 World Cups, the Commonwealth Games Gold Medal and the one-day international Cricket World Cup Final.

They just never lose, and ominously for opposition sides, the desire for success seems unquenched.

“It’s pretty special. We’ll never get tired of this feeling, and hopefully it happens for a long time to come,” batter and player of the match Beth Mooney said.

“We’ve been very successful over a number of years and I just love waking in the morning and putting on the Australian shirt.

“We don’t get tired of it. It’s something we speak about as a group, making sure we’re always evolving along the way.

“We’ve seen in this tournament there are teams around the world getting better and better as the years go on.”

And that, without question, will be this team’s major legacy: Being the best is bringing out the best in other teams.

“We know we’re being hunted,” Mooney said.

“People are looking at us for what we do and how we go about it, so certainly it won’t go forever, but we’ll enjoy it for as long as we can.

“Every team’s evolving at a rapid pace and the game’s evolving at a rapid pace too, so I’m really excited for what’s to come and the challenges that are ahead of us.”

Lanning returns to lead at the right time

Mooney and her teammates agree one of the reasons this team has been at the forefront of the sport is because of the captain, Meg Lanning.

“She’ll go down as one of the greatest leaders — not just in cricket but in sport,” Mooney said.

“It’s a pretty special effort from the group,” said a typically understated captain, Meg Lanning, said after the game.

“All the teams came really hard at us. We knew that was going to happen, but to be able to perform so well throughout the tournament, [I’m] super proud.”

A smiling Australian skipper Meg Lanning holds a mobile phone and poses in front of a couple of Australian fans with a flag.
It was celebration time for skipper Meg Lanning, as her return from a sabbatical was capped by leading Australia to another T20 World Cup title.(Getty Images: Mike Hewitt)

She has reason to be “super proud” of her own performance.

A burnt-out Lanning took time away from the game after the team’s Commonwealth Games success last August, with some wondering if she would ever return.

But when she did earlier this year, she hadn’t missed a beat.

Lanning was the second-highest scorer for Australia behind Mooney in this tournament, with 149 runs at an average of a tick under 50 at a strike rate of 114.

And her captaincy was spot on.

Teammates talk about her calmness under pressure, her ability to motivate the group, to look after the little things, to “evolve” and set a standard for others to follow.

If the 85-odd thousand people who packed the MCG to see the Australian team win the last T20 World Cup in 2020 was a sign of things to come, the events of the past few weeks are confirmation that they’ve arrived.

We’ve seen numerous Australian players receive life-changing amounts of money to play their sport, a dominant team ward off serious challenges to their supremacy and a tournament receiving top billing regardless of the sex of the participants.

The Australian women’s cricket team long have set the benchmark in their sport, but there’s no doubt they are at the very top of their game and all sport in this country.