Mumbai:Newly appointed captain of the Indian women's team, Jhulan Goswami, heads the list of Reliance Mobile ICC Women's ODI bowlers' rankings, which was launched on Thursday by International Cricket Council's manager for cricket operations, David Richardson.
"Women's cricket is definitely on the rise and the launch of the ODI rankings is just an indication of this. Since ICC took over the women's game in 2005 the number of countries playing women's cricket has quadrupled," said former South Africa wicket-keeper-batsman Richardson.
"The women's ODI rankings are exactly similar to the men's rankings. The next year is an important one for the women's game with the ICC World Cup scheduled in Australia in March followed by the T20 Women's World Cup, which is to be held concurrently with the men's T20 World Cup," he said.
"The T20 semi-finals and final of both events are scheduled at the same venue and same day. The ICC centenary celebrations are being held in 2009 and women's cricket forms an important part of the celebrations," Richardson added.
Jhulan, who is to lead the national team to Australia shortly for a series of one-day internationals preceded by a T20 international, said she was greatly honoured to be the world's number one bowler as per the rankings list released on Thursday.
She said that the Indian men's team's fine display Down Under earlier this year, while the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side won the triangular series beating Australia 2-0 in the best-of-three finals, would inspire her team members.
"The performance of the men's team in Australia would inspire us to do well in Australia. I am confident we can beat Australia in Australia," said Jhulan, ICC's Woman Cricketer of 2007, about the forthcoming ODI series against the 2005 women's World Cup winners.
The ICC Woman Cricketer of 2008, Claire Taylor, also welcomed the introduction of the official global rankings for women saying the entire lot of women cricketers were "looking forward to this day."
Both Jhulan and Claire said that it would be wonderful if cricket made it to the Olympic Games some time in the future.
"We definitely would like to play in the Olympics which is the world's biggest sporting event," Jhulan said.
"We will love to play in the Olympics. It would put a breath of fresh air into our game," Claire said.
The ICC's Executive Board had discussed the possibility of cricket being part of a future Olympic Games in a two-day meeting earlier this week.
It was agreed that ICC management continue research on the matter and present to the Board at a later date.
If cricket wished to be part of the 2020 Olympic Games then it would have to make an application to the International Olympic Committee before 2013, according to the ICC.