The opening round of the WBBL04 was a festival of cricket out at St Kilda.
HURRICANES v SCORCHERS
Perth Scorchers have started their season with a victory, but Hobart Hurricanes will take plenty of confidence out of a strong performance in a very tight match.
Erin Fazackerley was a surprise opener for Hobart, but was a standout at the top of the order, smashing 38 off 16 before an unfortunate run out ended her innings. Fazackerley was slow turning for the second run and a strong throw from Katie Cross on the boundary proved costly for the Hurricanes’ opener. Her big hitting will undoubtedly be a trump card for the Hurricanes this season.
Hobart scored 54 runs in the powerplay, which is the best in their history, but Perth put the clamps on in the middle overs and gained the momentum, only conceding 21 runs in the 34 balls after Fazackerley’s dismissal.
Georgia Redmayne Redmayne anchored Hobart’s innings and formed a solid partnership with skipper Sasha Moloney, although both scored too slowly, which ended up being costly.
The Hurricanes will improve with additions of internationals who can provide big hitting to complement their workers of the ball such as Redmayne and Moloney. Heather Graham was the standout bowler, with her clever changes of pace, and she ended with 3/25.
Elyse Villani was the star with the bat for the Scorchers, hitting five boundaries in the powerplay to put her side in the box seat. Her dominance of the bowlers continued until her eventual dismissal for 58 in the 15th over.
From there, Perth didn’t lose another wicket, with Lauren Ebsary and Chloe Piparo combining for a crucial partnership to steer their side home with three balls remaining.
Perth’s depth looks to be solid this season, and they should be extremely pleased to get a victory despite minimal contributions from Meg Lanning and Nicole Bolton.
SIXERS V STARS
On a flat pitch in St Kilda, the Sixers got off to a fantastic start with the bat, with Australian superstars Ellyse Perry and Alyssa Healy putting on 108 runs for the first wicket.
Healy got off to a slow start, playing second fiddle to Perry the aggressor early on as the Stars bowlers struggled to stick to a plan. When Perry brought up her 50 off 32 deliveries, Healy was on just 31 off 25. Perry’s runs predominately came through the leg side, with 35 runs through the mid-wicket region.
Their opening stand came off just 11.5 overs and with a deep batting line-up, the Sixers looked on track for at least 190 when Nicola Hancock was introduced into the attack in the 11th over. She got the breakthrough in her first over when Perry chopped on to a wider delivery.
When Perry got out the momentum shifted a little, and the Stars managed to consistently pick up wickets, with Ash Gardner and Erin Burns getting out in the following two overs. Healy managed to accelerate her innings amongst the carnage, scoring her last 25 runs off just 12 balls. Healy was lucky though, with keeper Lizelle Lee dropping her and missing a stumping in what was certainly not her best day with the gloves.
Hancock starred with the ball, and in her last 2.5 overs she claimed 3/9 in a spell that turned the match in the Stars’ favour.
Lee then came out to bat and immediately took the game away from Sydney, doing to them what Ash Gardner did to the Stars in the corresponding game last season. Lee’s 102 not out came off just 56 balls, and included 16 fours and three sixes.
The Sixers bowled a fraction short to Lee early, who was cutting and pulling anything back off a length with aplomb. After that rollicking start, Lee’s full array of shots was on offer, from flicks to sweeps to her cuts and pulls. Her ability to play cross bat shots off of a length was particularly impressive.
In what was a high scoring weekend of WBBL cricket, Lee’s knock was as good as any we’ve seen in the history of the competition, and the Melbourne Stars could exceed all expectations if she continues this kind of form.
STRIKERS V HEAT
The Strikers have cruised to a comfortable victory over the Heat after a strange run chase.
Adelaide’s innings started with plenty of urgency in the running between wickets, but that urgency ended up costing the Strikers their captain, who was run out by a Kirby Short direct hit in the second over.
Losing her countrywoman didn’t faze Sophie Devine, though, who’s ability to hit down the ground troubled the Heat bowlers. She hit a couple of massive sixes over long off, using the wind to her advantage, but when Brisbane’s bowlers dropped short, she punished them equally as hard, with her ability to clear the square boundaries on full display.
With such a display from Devine, the Strikers thin batting was not an issue, and Bridget Patterson played a handy support role in middle order before Tegan McPharlin provided an array of sweeps, reverse sweeps and ramps to score some quick runs at the end of the innings.
Brisbane’s innings never exited first gear, and early wickets proved costly, with Grace Harris and Sammy-Jo Johnson – pinch hitting at number three despite seven being the highest she’d previously batted for the Heat – departing early.
Even as early as the fourth over the required run rate was sneaking up around the 10 mark, and Adelaide’s strong, versatile bowling attack, combined with clever field placements by skipper Suzie Bates meant that the Heat never threatened to chase down the total.
Beth Mooney and Kirby Short both posted half-centuries, but their inability to score quickly enough proved costly, with the Heat falling 36 runs short despite having eight wickets in hand.
RENEGADES V THUNDER
The Thunder have shown that they might just be the team to beat after a dominant display against the Renegades.
The day got off to a good start for Thunder, with the dangerous Sophie Molineux dismissed in first over. The powerplay belonged to the Thunder too, with the Renegades languishing at 2/26 after six overs. From there, it was a constant flow of wickets, with only opener Erica Kershaw scoring over 20.
Rene Farrell was the pick of the bowlers, finishing with 3/17 off 4 overs, but it really was a team effort, with six of the seven bowlers used picking up a wicket.
The Thunder never looked in trouble in the chase, cruising to victory with 19 balls to spare. Young Tayla Vlaeminck, fresh off of being a part of the victorious T20 World Cup squad, was the pick of the bowlers in her WBBL debut, claiming four wickets in a futile spell.
With Harmanpreet Kaur still to add to this side, the Thunder certainly look like a formidable team this season. The Renegades, on the other hand, have plenty of work to do on their batting and will need far better performances from the top order in their upcoming matches.