After the busy third week of WBBL 06, which witnessed the teams locking their horns in 12 matches, 4 matches took place in the 4th weekend. While Melbourne Stars continued their invincible runs, Brisbane Heats and Hobart Hurricanes turn the tide in their favour.
The Stars Conitune its Invincible Runs
Melbourne Stars, who missed their first three games due to the rain in the first two weeks, showed their prominence in the field after that. The side led by Meg Lanning is yet to lose a match this season and, they are well poised at the top with 13 points from 8 matches.
While players like Meg Lanning and Ellyse Villani, set the tone of the match, on several occasions, their new inclusions like Katherin Brunt and Natalie Sciver too sealed the victory with useful contributions.
Melbourne Stars has one of the deadliest top order of the tournament. Apart from Meg Lanning and Ellyse Villani, who have scored 248 and 178 runs respectively, Mignon Du Preez, the highest over-all scorer for them has solidified the middle order. And in the last couple of years, one can see how her strike rate has increased at number 3. This season though she was getting the desired start, she failed to capitalize on those.
But not against the Strikers. She came out to bat in the third over after Stars had lost skipper, Meg Lanning. Du Preez started to get going as she hit a full toss from Megan Scutt for over through long-on. Mignon was specifically hard to the two leg spinner – Amanda Wellington and Alex Price. Both of them were punished, for keeping it short or too full, as Mignon showed her prominence, square of the wicket. Penna went for 19 in an over which, eased the pressure from Stars, who were chasing 145. Though Villani fell to Price, that didn’t stop du Preez from keep going.
In the 16th over, she hoicked Wellington for a six over long-off, and cut her for a four, to complete her first half-century of the season. Her 51 ball 61 was comprised of 7 fours and alone six. Though Stars lost a couple of wickets, in the dying overs, that didn’t prevent them to clinch the match by 5 wickets.
But before the Mignon show, it was their newest signing Natalie Sciver, who created havoc in the Strikers innings. After Strikers scored 5 in the first over, English all-rounder, strike in her very first ball. McGrath was trapped in front of the wicket. She wanted to push the ball to the square of the wicket but she missed it completely. The ball seemed to hit the leg stump and the finger raised, instantly. She conceded 5 and 8 runs in her next two overs.
Sciver was brought into the attack by Lanning to wrap up the innings. Katie Mack hit her four in the first ball of the over but got out in the next ball. She wanted to hit a wish slower ball, only to get caught by Sutherland on the 30 yards circle. Wellington got out too after hitting a six and Medline Penna saw her bell dislodged in the last ball of the over.
Sciver’s 4/29 earned her the player of the match award.
Openers Came out with Blazing Guns
In WBBL 06, there are 29 instances when batters have amassed more than 50 runs in an innings, and out of these, 19 have been scored by openers. And this weekend repeated the same story. Georgia Redmayne, who has shifted her base from Canes to Heats, scored her 2nd half-century this season to hand Brisbane Heats a much-needed victory, after consecutive losses. Brisbane, who lost Mooney, leaving a hole in the top order, chipped in doctor Redmayne and, she delivered when asked.
Left-arm spinner Sam Bates has been phenomenal for Thunders this season. Redmayne, who is good, square of the wicket, sent Sam Bates twice in the boundary to set the momentum of the chase. 15 runs came from the 4th over. Apart from the boundaries, left-handed Redmayne and Jonassen find the gap in the field to keep the run board tickling. Redmayne, who was bisecting the field as she does in the hospital, took the responsibility along with teenager Georgia Voll. Both of them added 86 runs for the 3rd wicket.
After the match, Redmayne admitted that the boundaries Georgia Voll got when she was dealing with singles took the pressure from her and, she could pace the innings according to her will. Redmayne gt her half-century in the 16th over when she hit Sammy Jo Johnson for a couple of boundaries in the first two balls of the over. Then once again hit a couple of boundaries Sam Bates to seal the victory. Redmayne remained not out on 59 from 45 balls with 8 boundaries to reckon.
The match between Scorchers and Sixers too witnessed the battles of the openers where Beth Moonet outclassed her Australian teammates, Ellyse Perry. Sixers lost two early wickets in form of Healy and Gardner with 4 overs and, Perry was forced to rebuild the innings along with Kapp.
Perry was specifically, hard to the spinners. She hopped down the pitch and hit them around the ground. A couple of boundaries to the Cleary boosted her confidence and, in between, she kept the fielder on their toe by stealing singles here and there. Perry completed her half-centuries in 41 balls and remained not out on 62 to guide the Sixers to a modest total of 137. She reclaimed her position at the top of the all-time leading run-scorer. But her joy was short lives as, Mooney, with her unbeaten 75 from 64 balls guided Scorchers to a much-needed victory.
Like Sixers, Scorchers too lost their other opener, Devine, early But Mooney along with Nicole Bolton added 64 runs in 53 balls. Out of the partnership, the lion share of the runs came from Mooney’s bat who has moved from Heats this season. After dealing Perry with without much risk, Mooney sent Sarah Aley twice in the same over to complete the batting powerplay on a positive note. Mooney got another three boundaries in the next four over from Niekerk and Gardner to take her score into the 40s.
As the required run rate was not high, a boundary in the over easily took off the pressure from the batting side, which allowed them to lean back to singles and doubles in the rest of the balls. Mooney did exactly the same. A busy cricketer in the field she controlled the batting in the middle overs Though she completed her half-century in 41 balls, she showed no sign of stopping though wickets kept felling around her. A three-run of the first ball of the final over sealed the victory for the team from Perth.
Spinners Lead the Charge
Though WBBL has seen the seamer taking the lead role to destroy the opposition, we must keep in mind that the highest wicket-taker, Molly Strano is an off-spinner, and spinners, have played an instrumental role in their side.
Amelia Kerr had a good season last year for Heats and she continued her form this year too. Though she didn’t get the wicket, she restricted the batters in the middle overs. In the match against invincible Stars, she picked up three wickets, and in the next match, her 4 wicket haul restricted her Thunders within 120 runs.
She trapped Knight and Haynes, the pillars of Thunders, in her first two overs to break the backbone of the Thunders. Knight and Haynes have guided Thunders to the most off victories in this season and as Kerr got them inside the 10 overs, Thunders for the first time was in difficulty in the middle orders. Kerr trusts her googly more than the regular leg spinners and that got Phoebe Litchfield who was stumped by Redmayne and Tahlia Wilson fell to a ball that came in, sharply. Her figure of 4-0-20-4 was enough to restrict the Thunders to 111. Later, Redmayne’s 59 and Voll’ unbeaten 31 sealed the match for the Heats.
Hayley Mathews has not fired for the Canes with the bat in this season, but her off-spin bowling gave the Canes, more options in the power-plays. Despite bowling in the power-play, her economy is less than 6, and she has taken 9 wickets with an average of 11. In the match against Gades, she also picked up the wicket of Sophie Molineux in the power-play and then came back for her last overs to remove dangerous looking, Lizelle Lee in the crucial moment. 41 was needed from the last over and Lee was well set, ready to clinch the match. Earlier, left-arm spinner Sophie Moniluex (2/18) was the pick of the bowlers for the Renegades.
Newcomers make their Presence Felt
WBBL has been the perfect platform for the young Australian cricketers to rub shoulders with the bests of the world cricket from the times of its emancipation. The next generation cricketers who are coming out of the grade and club crickets of Australia got the exposer and an international set up to evolve themselves. Most of the Australian cricketers, nowadays pave used the WBBL as the pathway for the national side.
This year too, a bunch of the young talents has been recruited by the 8 sides and within the limited opportunity, these youngsters have made their presence felt.
Georgia Voll, who made her debut against Sixers, got into the groves in the match against Stars when she scored 21. She has promoted up the order against Thunders and, along with another Georgia, she added an unbroken partnership of 86 to win the match. This 17 years old girl was praised, for her calmness, and, later Redmayne admitted that Voll’s four boundaries took the pressure from her. Earlier, fast bowler, Courtney Sippel got two wickets to support Kerr as well.