Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL), the leading domestic cricket tournament, has changed the course of women’s cricket in various ways. Not only it has given a domestic league, a global wrap, but at the same time, professionalism was at its peak. Cricket Australia provided their junior cricketers with the same atmosphere that players get at the international arena. The junior cricketers who were coming out to the age group or the other grade cricket got a platform where they can rub shoulder with the bests of cricket.
So, besides creating a spectacle for Women’s Cricket which attracted a large crowd, WBBL provided a non-stop supply of the cricketers to the national side. Each year young cricketers from age-group cricket, amidst the fanfare of international stars, play their part all silently. But one day people realize that the perilous youngster has grown up to be the force to reckon with, the assassins. And Australia got the desired result. WBBL nurtured the players and produced the likes of Ashleigh Gardner, Sophie Moniluex, Georgia Wareham, Anabel Sutherland, Molly Strano, Maitlan Brown – to name a few for the international setting.
This year in WBBL, along with the junior players, who have been part of the sides for a couple of years, the sides have decided to incorporate a few more. Sydney Thunders have 8 of their players who are less than 20 years old out of the 15 members side. Among them, there are a few, who stood up with their performances.
Darcie Brown (Adelaide Strikers):
The young gun of the tournament, Darcie Brown, has impressed everyone with her pace, predominantly. Besides, her control while bowling attracted the experts. Brown is a gifted athlete who is already one of the fastest bowlers in the State, consistently reaching speeds of up to 116 kilometres per hour. Brown was selected for the Under 19 Australian side at just 15 years of age and travelled to New Zealand to play a series against the New Zealand development squad.
Brown got a figure of 4-0-13-3 in her debut match. Against Hobart Hurricanes, she, along with her skipper Megan Schutt sizzled the opponent. Brown, with her immaculate line and pace, stunned the batting lineup of Hobart Hurricanes in her debut, picking up the wicket of Nicola Carey. Armed with brilliant outswingers and yorkers, she has picked up 10 wickets in 12 innings with an economy of less than 6.
A keen net-bowler, Brown said to cricket.com.au that as her brothers used to get her wicket with quick delivers in the backyard, she also wanted to revenge her humiliation and started to ball fast. “So I’ve tried to bowl as quick as I could since I was younger … but I don’t know where (the pace) has come from really.” The youngest ever player to sign as a Striker at just 16 years of age, Brown was included in the side, last year but didn’t get a chance to play. However, her time with Megan Schutt and Tahlia McGrath has evolved her as a bowler and helped to get control in bowling.
Amy Smith (Hobart Hurricanes):
Amidst the colossal dismay, Hurricane can find the silver lining in Amy Smith. She has been phenomenal this season. In absence of Maisy Gibson, she took the spin bowling charge along with Hayley Mathews. This 16-year old leg spinner, who is the youngest to debut in WNSL last year, also is the youngest to play WBBL.
Though she took her time into the competition, in the latter half of the tournament, this crafty leg spinner has bamboozled batters like Ash Gardner and Erin Burns. Lizelle Lee was her first wicket in WBBL and she continued her form in the later matches. In the match against Sixers, she repeated the figure of the previous encounter. Though the Sixers managed to reach 139, based on Perry’s unbeaten 72, Smith got the wicket of Erin Burns and Ash Gardner. Smith went for 12 in her first over, but in her last two overs, she only conceded 6 runs against the like of Perry, who is brutal against the spinners. In the match against The Thunder which they lost by one run, she took the of Rachael Haynes and Phoebe Litchfield. In 13 matches she has taken 8 wickets with an economy of 7.
Her maturity has earned praise from her skipper as well.”I’m quite maternal, so I’m quite protective of her, but she doesn’t need that,” Hurricanes captain Corinne Hall, said. “She’s very composed, has bowled against the best batters in the league, the most destructive players in women’s cricket, and she’s kept her nerve each time. She’s shown remarkable maturity for a 15-year-old.”
Ella Hayward (Melbourne Renegades):
Along with Amy Smith, another young off-spinner, Ella Hayward, came into the limelight in WBBL. 17 years old Ella Hayward showed her form in last year’s U-18 Championship which, earned her a place on the Renegades side. This off-spinner was the 2nd highest wicket-taker with 15 wickets at an average of 11.73. Along with this, the all-rounder has scored 233 runs with an average of 47.
Ella is one of the five indigenous Australian cricketers playing this season. Melbourne was invincible till the match against Renegades. They had won 6 matches on the trot and then there was one Ella Hayward. Hayward has evolved through U-15 and U-18 cricket and is balancing her life between studies and cricket.
Stars were well placed at the end of 15 overs, batting first. Ella went for 12 in her first two overs. She was brought back into the attack the 16th over. In the 2nd ball of the over, Ella pitched the ball outside of and Sciver came down the track to hoick this puny 17 years old off-spinner. But the things didn’t go according to the script. She missed the ball which, pitched well outside off and turned in to shatters the off stump. 3 balls later, she removed Mignon Du Preez, who was batting on 40 from 29 balls. She was caught by Strano at deep mid-wicket. 3 runs came from the over but most importantly, two set batters were back in the pavilion.
In her last over, she pitched the ball outside off, Osborne, tried her best o reach the ball but failed. But keeper Jossie Dooley didn’t. In the very next ball, Tess Flintoff danced down the track but the ball went away from her and Dooley repeated her job. Though Faltum survived the hat-trick ball Stars managed to get only two runs from that over. With 4-0-16-4, Hayward emulated The Stars that day. Stars were handed their first defeat in this year’s Women Big Bash League via Super-Over.
Tess Flintoff (Melbourne Stars):
One of the all-rounders who have come through this season is Tess Flintoff. With an impressive strike rate of 15, she has taken 11 wickets in 12 innings. Lanning, throughout this year, has trusted Tess, in the death overs, rather than experienced seamers like Katherin Brunt and Holly Ferling. Lanning threw Flintoff in a pressure situation, which could have hep in her growth as a cricketer. Flintoff, in return, has proved her skipper right. Though she went for some runs, her wicket-taking ability makes her a useful all-rounder like Anabel Sutherland.
Tess Flintoff, who was balancing their studies with her cricket career, picked three wickets in both matches. Her 3/13 against Heats almost won the match for Stars. In the next match against Sixer, she had gone for 22 in her first over, in front of Healy, She was brought back into the attack in the 16th. But in her next she picked up two wickets, conceding only 2 runs to bring the Stars back into the game. In both the matches Stars lost the game, but Flintoff brought back the Stars in the game. In the semi-final, she was wicket-less while in the final she got the wicket of Rachel Trenaman. While in the previous season she showed her skill with the bat, this season she shined with the ball.
Sophie Day (Melbourne Stars):
She has played for Plenty Valley Bats in Premier Cricket has scored 1,070 runs in four seasons but her talents as a spin bowler yielded 42 wickets at an average of 24, confirming her status as a reliable all-rounder. She has been included in the Victorian state side for WNSL. Day, also was the part of Berkshire side in the County Championship in 2019 and has played along with England skipper Heather Knight.
Day bowled in the nets of Southern Stars during World T-20 and, he was introduced from the first match. But to her utter disappointment, all the three matches of WBBL got washed out. She was even started to think that she is actually cursed. Day joined cricket, after leaving hockey, and her rise has been rapid. She got her first wicket in form of Lauren Down. One who loves to work hard has evolved under coach Trent Woodhill while has the wickets of players like Suzie Bates.
Her top performance came against Scorchers. Chasing 150 to win, Scorchers were going well, until left-arm spinner Day picked up Chole Piparo, just after the power play. Later she got the valuable scalp of Nicole Bolton and ended her quota, after taking Megan Banting. Her 3/16 in 4 overs was instrumental to defeat Scorchers by 6 runs. This left-arm spinner took 11 wickets in 12 innings with an economy of 6.66.
Georgia Voll (Brisbane Heats):
The 17-year-old broke into the Heat XI for their fifth match of WBBL, debuting against the Sixers at Blacktown, and has since cemented her spot in the two-time defending champions’ best side. Batting at No.8 in a line-up featuring Grace Harris, Georgia Redmayne, Jess Jonassen, Maddy Green, and Laura Kimmince, Voll’s impressive 21 from 15 balls in just her fourth match, against the top-ranked Stars, was enough to earn a promotion to No.4.
She hit a run-a-ball 31 in her first opportunity up the order and hasn’t budged since remaining there through Brisbane’s seven-match winning streak and making handy contributions including a 28-ball 34 in the Heat’s upset win over the Stars. The teenager has been spoken of as one of Queensland’s most exciting young talents for some time; she was a player of the tournament at last summer’s Under-18 National Championships and made her senior 50-over domestic debut aged 16.
Dubbed as the Grace Harris 2.0, Voll plays off the back and front foot, she’s not just a front-foot player, and she can play quick bowling off her grille, she’s proved that with plenty of hooks and pulls and cut shots. However, Voll’s run out in the semifinal triggered the collapse in the side. Heats lost 6 wickets in 12 runs to lose the match by 12 runs. She has scored 153 runs in 10 innings with the best 34.
Apart from these players some of the players have conditioned their form from the last season. Phoebe Litchfield of Thunders has scored 173 runs within an average of 29. Her innings of 46 against the Sixers was enough to prove her worth in the side. Her three fours against Erin Burns in the last overtook the game to the wire.
Hannah Darlington (Sydney Thunder):
The Young Guns Awardee of the last season of WBBL has played a major role, in Thunders‘ bowling attack this year too. In the last 7 innings, Darlington has picked up 16 wickets with an average of 10, out of which she had picked up three wickets in 4 instances. Her figure of 3/24 was enough to bundle Hurricanes within 120. In the semifinal, Heats were all poised at the end of 15th over. Darlington had got Heats skipper Jess Jonassen earlier, came back later to pick up Charlie Knott and Georgia Prestwidge in one over. Heats’ dream run was shattered for this season.
Courtney Webb (Melbourne Renegades):
Webb who took one of the best catches of the season of WBBL to removed Ellyse Perry, scored an unbeaten 46 from 28 to hurt the Sixers. The 2nd highest run-getter for the Renegades scored 246 runs with an average of 30. Her best knock came against the Stars when she clinched the match from the jaws of defeat. She came out to bat when Renegades was 40/3, she made a partnership of 51 with Josie Dooley to stable the innings. Then along with lower-order batters, she hit unbeaten 54 from 33 to took the match into the super over.