Australia won their 5th T20 title in front of a record crowd on 8th March at MCG. However, the sporting extravaganzas were either postponed or got cancelled due to the break out of pandemic after the World Cup. The opening weekend of the WBBL 06 was gearing upon the expectation that was there after the successful ICC T20 World Cup, earlier this year. Despite rain playing the role of a spoilsport, there are performances which elated the inaugural weekend.
Grace Harris lights-up the WBBL 06
Grace Harris has been an integral part of the side from the emancipation of the tournament in 2015. Her 1039 runs came at a strike rate of 139, including two centuries. The first centurion of WBBL, Grace Harris also holds the record of fastest century in 42 balls against Stars in 2018.
In the match against Perth Scorchers, chasing a target of 133, Brisbane Heat lost two wickets inside 7 overs. Harris came out to bat when the target was 88 from 81. Heat had lost the wicket of Jess Jonassen and another couple of wickets could have turned the match in favour of Scorchers. Heat don’t have a strong batting contingent in the lower middle order, so Harris decided to craft her innings.
In her first 17 balls, she scored only 10. Heat’s new recruit Redmayne and she was on a mission to rebuild the innings. It was the 12th over. Nicole Bolton was in charge and Harris created a carnage by taking 19 runs from that over. Next over went for 11 and the RR came down to less than 6. Sophie Devine was economical in her first two over where she has conceded only 10, but Harris sent her twice to the boundary in the same over.
Glenn conceded 10 to in-front of a carnage that was Grace Harris. Grace’s 37 balls 53 was enough to guide defending champion Brisbane Heats to the start journey on a winning note. Heats middle-order depends on her this year due to absence of Beth Mooney and this can be her season. Harris believes that she can play the finisher role in this side and she is confident that she can compensate the dot balls with her power hitting.
“I’ve been watching a lot of MS Dhoni’s batting and I took a bit of inspiration from him. He’s a fantastic finisher of the game and he might get behind but at the end of the day, they win games and he’s ahead of the count. I’m definitely hoping to do something similar to that,” she again shared.
However, Grace gave the hint of her form prior to the WBBL o6. The liveliest cricketer on the field is also the go-to person for the commentators for the team insights as well. Grace Harris has two WBBL hundreds in her tally and has recently broken the record for the highest individual score in women’s T20s in Australian club cricket against Sandgate-Redcliff. She has been in good touch for the Western Suburbs in Queensland Premier Cricket – Katherine Raymont Shield.
Having scored 76, 14,81, 27, and 67, she made a belligerent 162 from just 69 balls including, 17 fours and 12 sixes. Her knock broke the record for the highest individual score in women’s T20s in Australian club cricket. It took the Western Suburbs past 200 in 20 overs, and they eventually won the match by 30 runs. The 27-year-old has played 60 matches and amassed 1113 runs at an impressive strike rate of 137.41 including a couple of centuries. She has also taken 44 wickets giving away just 6.71 runs per over.
Lanning-Wolvaardt fought it out for the Reign of Off-side
If you want to spend your idle evening watching the glorious cover drives- the first two names should come to your mind is Meg Lanning and Laura Wolvaardt. Both of them are a class apart in the longer formats of the game. But both of them at the same time have the ability to adapt themselves according to the format of the game.
One can see the change in Wolvaardt during women World Cup when she stood tall in the middle order amidst the colossal damage and almost took the match from Australia. After wrapping Hobart Hurricanes on 84, Strikers lost O’Neil early but that didn’t halt Wolvaardt. Her unbeaten 51 from 42 balls comprised of 8 boundaries and helped Strikers to claim their first victory.
On the other match, which was abandoned due to rain, Meg Lanning pulled out star-studded Melbourne Stars from the grave in the Melbourne Derby. Star lost Villani in the first ball of the match and Lanning along with Mignon du Preez rebuild the innings. Lanning Survived the initial attack by Mailtan Brown who with her immaculate line and dreaded bouncers made life hard for Lanning.
Lanning who was batting cautiously found her grove once du Preez was removed. She first added 69 runs for the 2nd wicket and then amassed a half-century partnership with Anabel Sutherland. Her 50 came from 49 balls with 6 fours before the umpired called off the games with 3overs to left in the first innings.
Enigma of arrival: Darcie Brown
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. She has picked up 18 wickets in 24 U-15 matches while learnt a lot from Tahlia McGrath.
In her debut for Strikers, she shared the new ball with Australian seasoned campaigner Megan Schutt. Two wickets in the first two balls already had put Hurricanes in the back foot and to rub insult to the injury 17 years old Darcie Brown removed Nicola Carey in her first over. Brown fired a searing in-swinger through the defences of Australia all-rounder Carey for her maiden WBBL wicket.
The right-armer returned later in the innings with Hobart well and truly on the ropes, but like all good fast bowlers, Brown did not let up. Brown targeted the body of 15-year-old Amy Smith with a nasty short ball that was fended away and lucky not to be caught by the converging bowler and wicket-keeper. Next ball Smith backed away to another short ball and edged her cut shot behind before Brown hit the woodwork for a second time to dismiss No.10 Brooke Hepburn.
4-0-13-3. Armed with swinging deliveries as well as nasty short balls she sizzled the opposition along with her skipper Megan Schutt. She is one of the most promising young fast bowlers in the country who became the youngest player to ever sign as a Striker at just 16 years of age. Hobart was bundled out within 100, handing Strikers an 8 wickets victory.
Jodie Hicks set the mark for other fielders
WBBL has during its course has seen brilliant fielding efforts and evolution of fielders in the tournament. This year too, we have already seen such efforts in the field. In the match against Strikers, Jodie Hicks took a one-handed stunner to remove Tahlia McGrath. In the 2nd ball of the match, Kapp delivered a wish ball and McGrath threw her bat to it. The ball was heading towards backward point boundary but Hicks who was guarding the region jumped and took a one-handed blinder. It was like plucking a flower from the tree.
In that match Wolvaardt, the hero of the previous match was too got out to a brilliant effort of Healy. Stella Campbell cramped Wolvaardt and didn’t give her space to play the pull shot. As Wolvaardt went for it, the ball took the top edge bat. Healy ran from behind the wicket to short fine leg and took a diving catch. Healy then played a handy knock to win the rain-affected match by 9 wickets.
Rain spoiled the sport
5 of the 8 matches of the first two days of WBBL 06 got washed out due to rain. And 3 matches were abandoned without a ball being bowled. Sydney Thunder, Melbourne Stars, and Melbourne Renegades all lost their both games with no result. Due to the COVID-19 and regarding protocols all the matches are happening in Sydney.