We’re past the halfway mark of the WBBL and the ladder is starting to take shape.
The two Sydney teams look to be the team to beat with the Sixers, in particular, looking fantastic, while Australian superstar Alyssa Healy is starting to find her best form at the top of the order this round.
Sydney Thunder v Hobart Hurricanes
The Thunder moved clear to the top of the ladder with a comfortable victory over Hobart.
The day started poorly for the ‘Canes, with Rene Farrell dismissing opener Erin Fazackerley in the opening over. Contributions from Smriti Mandhana, Stef Daffara and Heather Knight set Hobart up for a solid score, and when Daffara was dismissed after 9.2 overs, the score read 3/74. From there, the innings fell apart, with constant wickets falling around Knight’s lone hand.
Successive run outs of Georgia Redmayne and Knight (who was out to a fantastic direct hit by Nicola Carey) were the epitome of the chaos, and 135 never looked like a par score.
That's how it's done! Skipper Moloney takes the catch and that's the first wicket for the Hurricanes! #WBBL04 pic.twitter.com/jfnOIETx7y— Rebel Women's Big Bash League (@WBBL) December 24, 2018
Rachael Haynes was the star for Sydney, but it could’ve been a different story, with the Hurricanes dropping her on one. She ended with 68 off 48 not out, including nine boundaries and a six.
Cameos from Rachel Priest (22 off 11) and Naomi Stalenberg (19 off 13) took the heat out of the run chase, and the Thunder cruised home with 20 balls to spare.
Perth Scorchers v Brisbane Heat
A brilliant Meg Lanning innings wasn’t enough to secure a victory for the Peth Scorchers, as a team effort from the Brisbane Heat proved too strong.
Biiiiiggg from Sammy-Jo Johnson! 🔥 #WBBL04 pic.twitter.com/WErerefJsq— Rebel Women's Big Bash League (@WBBL) December 26, 2018
Lanning’s ability to turn over the strike and also send the bad deliveries to the boundary was clear, and there were no bowlers that she specifically seemed to target. Rather she faced the bowling as it came to her and backed herself to maintain a strong strike rate off all the bowlers.
Unfortunately for Perth no one else got going, with her opening partner Elyse Villani’s 23 off 20 the next best effort. The Heat’s death bowling was solid, and Perth managed just 37 runs off the last six overs. Haidee Birkett was the pick of the bowlers, dismissing Villani, Nicole Bolton and Heather Graham to finish with 3/19 off four overs.
The Heat timed their chase perfectly and had solid contributions from all their batters. They won with four deliveries to spare, but it might have been a different story had Perth been tighter with the ball. They bowled eleven wides for the innings, with Taneale Peschel especially struggling to control the ball, bowling six wides in a sloppy fielding and bowling performance from Perth.
Sydney Sixers v Melbourne Renegades
The Renegades’ underwhelming season continued as they suffered a heavy defeat against the Sixers.
Despite a solid batting line-up on paper, the Renegades again failed to reach a solid score, with their top three batters combining for just 13 runs. At 7/67, the match looked over before it begun, but lower-order all-rounders Maitlan Brown (33) and Molly Strano (17 not out) combined to get their side to 110, which gave them a faint hope of victory.
Lauren Smith leaps aaanndd TAKES IT! Big contender for catch of the season from @laurenn 👏😱 @CommBank | #WBBL04 pic.twitter.com/CsHHC52wIB— Rebel Women's Big Bash League (@WBBL) December 27, 2018
That faint hope was quickly dashed by superstar Alyssa Healy, who blasted nine fours and two sixes on her way to 70 off just 42 balls. The Renegades couldn’t find an answer as Healy smashed boundaries off all types of bowlers, from Lea Tahuhu’s express pace to Georgia Wareham’s leggies.
Ellyse Perry has dominated the match, but if her superstar opening partner can fire as well, this Sixers team could be unbeatable.
Sydney Sixers v Adelaide Strikers
The very next day, Healy backed up her incredible performance with an even better one, this time against the Adelaide Strikers.
Alyssa Healy was the #WBBL04 @Dream11 MVP of the Day thanks to her 112* runs off 69 balls!— Rebel Women's Big Bash League (@WBBL) December 28, 2018
Make sure you pick teams for the next matches – awesome daily prizes up for grabs HERE! https://t.co/M49dikXVaJ pic.twitter.com/YkjsXUERg9
Up against one of the most well-rounded attacks in the competition, Healy took no prisoners, with current and former internationals Dani Hazell, Sarah Coyte, Sophie Devine, Amanda-Jade Wellington and Tahlia McGrath all conceding over 9.5 runs per over.
Healy ended with seventeen boundaries, and she didn’t seem to favour a particular side of the wicket, instead playing the ball on its merits and dispatching it accordingly. Drives, pulls, sweeps and reverse sweeps, this innings truly did have it all, and the 150 run opening stand with Ellyse Perry surely is ominous for opposing teams. Ash Gardner made a quick-fire 39 off 15 at the end to launch Sydney’s total over 200.
It was always going to be a tough chase for Adelaide, whose batting is not their strength at the best of times, and it proved to be the case as they stumbled to 132 all out. Left-arm quick Lauren Cheatle was the pick of the bowlers, with 3/22 off four, while young Hayley Silver-Holmes picked up her first two WBBL wickets.
Melbourne Renegades v Melbourne Stars
The Renegades snuck home by one wicket with one ball to spare in a cracking match at Marvel Stadium.
What. A. Finish.— Rebel Women's Big Bash League (@WBBL) December 29, 2018
Three run-out opportunities for the Stars, but the Gades hold on at Marvel! #WBBL04 pic.twitter.com/yXa5zoVw87
The Stars started off well, with Lizelle Lee and Ange Reakes putting on 65 for the opening wicket, but as has often been the case this tournament, their middle order let them down, and they posted just 130. Amy Satterthwaite took 3/16 and was the pick of the bowlers.
Satterthwaite also top scored with 37 in the Renegades run chase, but it was the frenetic final few overs that made this match a thriller.
Needing just eleven runs off the last three overs, the Renegades made hard work of finishing off their chase, leaving it to the second last ball to hit the winning runs.
Lea Tahuhu – who is not exactly known for her batting prowess – eventually hit the winning runs, but the Renegades seemingly tried their best to lose it, with three close run out calls in the final over.
Courtney Webb ended with 21 not out, playing a crucial role as Melbourne’s tail crumbled around her.
Perth Scorchers v Sydney Thunder
These two teams played out two thrillers in two days, but it was Perth who prevailed in both matches.
Meg Lanning triple checking the win belongs to the Scorchers! 😂 pic.twitter.com/7x3eOjcund— Rebel Women's Big Bash League (@WBBL) December 30, 2018
In the first match, Perth pulled off a massive run chase of 180 with just one ball to spare. The stars were out to play for both teams, with Rachael Haynes, Rachel Priest and Harmanpreet Kaur all passing 40 for the Thunder.
Sydney would’ve been favourites going into the break with 179 on the board, despite a flat pitch and a strong Perth batting line-up, but Elyse Villani and Meg Lanning had other ideas, with Lanning in particular blasting Thunder bowlers all over the park.
The only way the Thunder could get the Aussie skipper out was through a calamitous run out, where Villani and Lanning were both at the same end of the pitch after an lbw appeal caused confusion. Villani was on just 14 at the time, but clearly, she wanted to make amends for running out her skipper, and from that point onwards she upped the ante.
She ended with 66 off 50 not out, and anchored an extremely entertaining run chase perfectly, hitting the winning runs with one ball to spare.
The rematch wasn’t quite the run fest of the first match, but it was still highly entertaining, with Heather Graham bowling a clutch final over to get her team the victory.
Relive all the excitement of Heather Graham's last over to secure a Scorchers victory! 🔥 #WBBL04 pic.twitter.com/ypAsnQ32m6— Rebel Women's Big Bash League (@WBBL) December 30, 2018
The Thunder won the toss and elected to bowl, and the decision was validated early, as Lisa Griffith dismissed both Amy Jones and Meg Lanning in the powerplay. Heather Graham followed soon after, and without Elyse Villani, the Scorchers looked to be in trouble.
Australian one-day opener Nicole Bolton and the experienced Lauren Ebsary had other ideas though and put on 78 runs for the fifth wicket to give their bowlers a score to defend.
Bolton continued her good game, picking up a wicket in each of her first two overs, sending Rachel Priest and Naomi Stalenberg back to the sheds. A solid partnership between Rachael Haynes and Alex Blackwell looked to put the Thunder in a fantastic position, but they both fell within a couple of overs of each other, which cost the Thunder momentum.
Internationals Harmanpreet Kaur and Stefanie Taylor struggled to find the middle of the bat, and the Scorchers fought their way back into the match, but with just 24 runs required off 24 balls, they were still clear favourites.
Some good bowling from Perth meant that Sydney needed nine off the last over, and after Graham dismissed Kaur on the first ball of the over, the Thunder’s chase fell short.
Hobart Hurricanes v Brisbane Heat
The week ended with bottom feeders Hobart playing the in-form Brisbane Heat.
Haidee Birkett to the rescue! What an effort 💪 #WBBL04 pic.twitter.com/9iFki0wH35— Rebel Women's Big Bash League (@WBBL) December 30, 2018
Brisbane’s innings never got going, with Grace Harris top scoring with 23 off 12 at the top of the order. Meg Phillips picked up the crucial wicket, as Harris holed out to long on.
Once again the Heat’s selections made for perplexing reading. Talented South African international leg spinner Sune Luus was left out despite taking 30 T20 international wickets at an economy of under six. Her South African teammate Laura Wolvaardt – an opening batter who doesn’t bowl and is more of a worker of the ball than a big hitter – was slotted in at number nine, a role that is hardly befitting of a classy batter with two international centuries.
For Hobart, Meg Phillips took three wickets with her crafty mediums, but it was the partnership of Corinne Hall and Mikayla Hinkley that won them the game. At 4/29, Hobart were in all sorts of trouble, but they put on 98 for the fifth wicket to secure a much needed victory for their side.