Saturday, 26 January 2019

WBBL04 - Heat surprise Sixers to win WBBL04

After two amazing, cliff-hanger semi-finals, there was a fear that the final of this year's WBBL04 competition, might be a let-down. It was not.

The Sydney Sixers were clear favourites with the undoubted Player of the Tournament, Ellyse Perry, at the heart of their team, but with an amazing supporting cast of Healy, Gardner, Burns, van Niekerk and Kapp, in the wings.

As for the Heat they have relied almost exclusively on local talent - much of it unsung. Sure they had Aussie contracted players Beth Mooney, Jess Jonassen and Delissa Kimmince, but under skipper Kirby Short, it was players such as the Harris sisters, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Josie Dooley, Jemma Barsby and Haidee Birkett (remember the semi-final catch?) that have won Heat many games this year. Overseas players Laura Wolvaardt and Sune Luus have simply been passengers, with batsman Wolvaardt never batting above 8 (she has scored just 67 runs in 14 appearances), and Luus not even making the 11 for Heat's last four games of the season.

It seemed inevitable then that the star-studded Sixers would ride roughshod over the plucky Heat. They won the toss and opted to bat. The idea being to put so many runs on the board that Heat simply melted in the ...well...the heat. But it wasn't to be that way.

The disciplined Heat bowlers kept the Sixers top order under pressure and despite starts removed Healy, Gardner and Perry before they could cut loose and then stifled the middle order, until Dane van Niekerk smashed 32* off 15 balls, with 33 runs coming from the last three overs to take Sixers to a par 131/7.

Gung-ho Heat batsmen Grace Harris and Johnson failed to make an impact, as Heat set about their task, but Mooney and Short added 84 for the third wicket in 11.3 overs to set up what looked like an easy victory, provided they held their nerve. When both were out in the same 15th over from van Niekerk it looked like they were going to throw it away. When Jonassen and Dooley went too it seemed almost inevitable. But nine off five balls from Wolvaardt (perhaps the most important nine runs she has ever scored?) left Heat needing just five off the last over. A single taken off the first ball and then Laura Harris swotted the second ball of Kapp's over to the boundary for a famous, and immensely popular victory.

The closeness of the last three games of the season; the powerful and elegant batting that has been seen throughout the tournament; the emergence of more young Aussie talent; the free-to-air television coverage and the growing crowd numbers, bode well for next year's earlier standalone competition. People are looking forward to it already!!

Martin Davies

Monday, 14 January 2019

WBBL04 - Semi-finals await

The four teams who will be fighting it out on Saturday for a place in the WBBL04 final will be...

Sixers, Thunder, Heat and Renegades

The Scorchers lost the first of their two games at the weekend to Strikers, and with Renegades beating Hurricanes (albeit only just), it meant it was Renegades that joined the other three in the semi-finals. Scorchers did beat Strikers the following day, but it was too little too late. Here is how the final table looked.

Final WBBL04 Ladder positions
This means that the semi-finals this Saturday will be
Thunder v Heat
followed by 
Sixers v Renegades

Sixers and Thunder are both hot favourites to make it through to the final, but Heat beat Thunder in their last match of the season, chasing down Thunder's 171/7 in the final over, thanks to a maiden WBBL04 century for Beth Mooney (102). It was the sixth century of WBBL04. There had only been five in the previous three years of the tournament. If Mooney could put on a repeat performance in the semi-final Heat could just upset the Sydney franchise.

Sixers too lost their last game, being bowled out by Stars for just 92. Ellyse Perry has, of course, been in sparkling form with the bat for Sixers, but it has meant that their middle order and below have had precious little time at the crease. If the Renegades were to winkle out Perry, Healy and Gardner cheaply then they could repeat Stars' performance with the ball. Their bowlers are good enough to do it, but whether they could then hold their nerve with the bat is a slightly different matter.

Martin Davies

Sunday, 6 January 2019

WBBL04 - Sixers & Thunder make semis

After the penultimate weekend of WBBL04 games the two Sydney franchises - Sixers and Thunder - can start to plan for semi-final action, as they have now qualified.

This weekend's results were :-

Thunder 92/3 v Stars when match was abandoned
Heat 160/7 beat Strikers 117/7
Sixers 183/2 beat Scorchers 151ao
Thunder 122/6 beat Stars 117/9
Renegades 143/3 beat Heat 118ao

Which means that this is how the ladder looks right now...
WBBL04 - 6th January 2018
The fight for the other two semi-final places is effectively between Heat, Renegades and Scorchers (technically Stars could still make it if they won their last two games, and Renegades and Scorchers both lost all theirs, but even then it would come down to NRR).

Heat have two games to play against Stars and Thunder.
Renegades have three games to play against Thunder, Hurricanes and Sixers.
Scorchers have two games to play, both against Strikers. If Scorchers can win both their games then Heat and Renegades will have to notch up two wins of their own to stop them from qualifying.

The order in which the games are played could prove to be vital. On Tuesday Renegades play Thunder. Should they win, and it will be a tough ask, then they will pour the pressure onto Heat, who play Stars on Thursday. A win for Heat would in turn add to the pressure on Scorchers. All Scorchers can do this week is sit back and watch, as they do not play their first game against Strikers, in Alice Springs, until Saturday. Strikers will already have played Hurricanes twice earlier in the week, and with the pressure off, and with Scorchers almost certainly without Elyse Villani and Nicole Bolton again for both games, the two wins Scorchers will probably need, could prove elusive, but Strikers will have had to play four games in six days.

The team that finishes top will host the two semi-finals, so Sixers and Thunder will be looking to win their last two games. Sixers take on Renegades and then Stars next weekend; while Thunder have Renegades and Heat to round off their league season. Thunder however will be without Harmanpreet Kaur for that final game against Heat, as she is required to return to India.

The final few games to be played are :-
Thunder v Renegades
Strikers v Hurricanes
Strikers v Hurricanes again
Heat v Stars
Strikers v Scorchers
Renegades v Hurricanes
Heat v Thunder
Scorchers v Strikers
Renegades v Sixers
Stars v Sixers


Friday, 28 December 2018

WBBL04 - The Christmas to New Year Run

On Christmas Eve we left the WBBL04 ladder looking like this

Since then there have been three more games, which have gone like this :-

Renegades 110/8 lost to Sixers 111/3
Scorchers 136/5 lost to Heat 139/5
Sixers 206/1 beat Strikers 132 ao

Which means the table now looks like this

Sixers two wins have put them back to the top of the league, with Alyssa Healy having great fun at the expense of both Renegades and Strikers. She hit an unbeaten 70 as Sixers chased down Renegades below par 110/8 in just 14.1 overs, and then thrashed her second WBBL century, hitting 112* off the beleaguered Strikers attack as Sixers posted the second highest score in WBBL history - 206/1.

In between those two games Scorchers failed to build on Meg Lanning's 70, finishing on a disappointing 136/5, which Heat surpassed, without too many alarms, albeit in the 20th over. It means Heat have now won 5/8 and are looking good for a semi-final spot. Scorchers sit precariously poised on 4/9.

We reckon that 15/16 points will be enough to make sure of a spot in those semis, which puts Sixers just one win away from that goal, Thunder two wins and Heat three. With Heat having two games to play against bottom of the table Hurricanes before New Year they look in good shape.

Games coming up in the next couple of days are :-
Scorchers take on Thunder twice in Perth.
Renegades v Stars
Hurricanes entertain Heat twice at the University of Tasmania Stadium in Launceston, and there is a
Strikers v Sixers rematch, but at the Adelaide Oval, rather than at the postage stamp that is Hurstville Oval.

Thunder will be looking to leapfrog Sixers back to the top of the ladder, with two wins in Perth effectively securing their passage to the semis, and possibly ending Scorchers chances of making the next stage of the competition. If Scorchers were to lose both games they would then be 4/11, with just three games to play - Strikers twice, and Sixers.

Heat could take a massive step towards the semis with two wins over Canes, which you would have to say they should achieve. Canes season is a write-off. Despite some close games, they have simply been unable to defend any total their batting line-up have managed to put on the board.

Both Renegades and Stars will know that they have to win their match to stay in with a shout of the semis. Renegades only have 5 points to Stars 8, but they have played a game less. A win keeps them in with a squeak, and they play Stars again on New Year's Day. Should they win that one too, then they will be above Stars. As for Stars a win will keep them hustling for that third/fourth spot with Heat and Scorchers.

After Stars, Renegades remaining fixtures are - Stars (again), Hurricanes twice, Heat, Thunder and Sixers. But Stars have a tougher run in to the finish line, they play - Renegades (again), Thunder twice, Heat and Sixers. The outcome of the two clashes between Gades v Stars in the next few days could define their seasons.

WBBL04 is getting to the business end of things.

Martin Davies

Monday, 24 December 2018

WBBL04 - Christmas Wrap Up

Here's how the table looks as the teams head into Christmas...

In the six games played pre-Christmas weekend each one of the teams involved picked up one win, with each of the back-to-back games being shared by each team. All of Saturday's results being reversed on Sunday. Here are the scores

Strikers 144/7 lost to Stars 145/6
Sixers 166/3 beat Heat 155/7
Scorchers 122/6 lost to Renegades 123/6
Strikers 172/3 beat Stars 153/9
Heat 154/7 beat Sixers 88ao
Scorchers 172/2 beat Renegades 157/6

Highlights were :-
  • Another century for Ellyse Perry. She hit the last two balls of the Sixers' first innings against Heat for 6 and 4 to reach 103*, as Sixers took 43 runs off the last two overs to post 166/3, too many for Heat (but only just). Perry moved from 62 to 103 in those last 12 balls! Heat got their revenge the next day as they posted 154/7 and then bowled Sixers out for just 88! Sammy-Jo Johnson claiming 3/23.
  • Having lost to Stars on Saturday Strikers kept their season alive with a win against them on Sunday, thanks almost entirely to Sophie Devine. First she hit 95 off 60 balls and then she took 5/41 as Stars fell 19 runs short.
  • Renegades too picked up a vital win on Saturday as they restricted Scorchers to just 122/6 and then chased them down with plenty of balls to spare, but on Sunday Meg Lanning 75 and Elyse Villani 62 put on 143 for the first Scorchers' wicket, which left Gades with too many to chase, although they did make it to with 15. 
On Christmas Eve Hurricanes (135 all out) slipped to their seventh defeat in eight games, as Thunder strolled past them with just four wickets down, and to the top of the league, thanks to 68* from Rachel Haynes.
The girls are all back in action again this week, starting with Scorchers v Heat on Boxing Day, which is followed by another eight games before the end of 2018. More on all that anon, but for now


Martin Davies

Friday, 21 December 2018

WBBL04 - Round-Up heading into the Christmas Weekend

Four midweek games have seen Scorchers steal a win against the luckless Canes; Heat obliterate Stars; Thunder confirm their spot at the top of the ladder; and Stars come back, dust themselves off and beat Strikers, who can't buy a win at the moment.

It also saw a WBBL record 42 ball 100 for Grace Harris (Heat) as she dispatched Stars' bowlers to all parts of the Gabba, hitting six 6s and thirteen 4s. Chasing 133 to win Heat had levelled the scores, with Harris facing on 95. She needed a 6 to get to her 100, and her partner Beth Mooney made sure she stayed on strike even though the winning run could have been taken. Harris deposited the fifth ball of the eleventh over deep over long on to record the fastest 100 in WBBL history and the second fastest of all-time in women's cricket.

Here are the results
Hurricanes 173/7 v Scorchers 173/6 - Super Over - Scorchers 16/0 beat Canes 10/2
Stars 132/7 lost to Heat 138/0
Hurricanes 153/9 lost to Thunder 156/4
Strikers 144/7 lost to Stars 145/6

Current table (21/12/18)
Over the next three days another six games will be played.
Sixers take on Heat twice, first at the SCG and then Hurstville.
Scorchers play Renegades twice also, both at the WACA.
Strikers v Stars and Thunder v Hurricanes (on Monday) round off the long weekend.

Heat (and Grace Harris in particular) will be confident going into their back-to-back games with Sixers, even though Sixers have been in fine form. But T20 is a fickle format, so Heat cannot rely on Harris repeating her Stars' heroics. Sixers just look too powerful for the Queenslanders.
The Scorchers/Renegades match-ups will be very intriguing. News is that Meg Lanning is fit and ready to go, which will definitely help their cause. Scorchers have won 3/6, but their form has been erratic, to say the least. As for Renegades they have won just 1/4, against Strikers, losing to Thunder and Heat. On paper Scorchers should walk both games, but Gades might just pip them in one (or maybe even two) if their young bowlers come to the party.

The Strikers v Stars rematch is likely to be another tight affair. Strikers have to win if they are to salvage anything from this season. Meanwhile Stars will be beginning to believe they can make it to the finals. Who can handle that added pressure better?

Thunder just looked too strong for Canes in their Friday night game and it is difficult to see the result being any different second time around. With just one win from seven games Canes are almost dead and buried. Another loss might be the last nail in their WBBL04 coffin.

Martin Davies

Monday, 17 December 2018

WBBL04 - R3 Review & Midweek Preview

It was a good weekend for both Sixers and Thunder, as they both returned home to Sydney with four more points under their belts from two wins each, and a share in the lead at the top of the ladder. Respectively they beat Hurricanes and Strikers twice, to leave Canes and Strikers with just one win to their name so far. In the other back-to-back games Stars and Scorchers shared the points in two low scoring encounters, and finally Heat moved up to 4th in the league with a comfortable, if rather damp, win over Renegades.

Here are the scores
Stars 124/9 lost to Scorchers 125/2 
Strikers 132 ao lost to Thunder 134/4
Sixers 155/3 beat Hurricanes 133/5
Scorchers 90/7 lost to Stars 91/6
Strikers 145/5 lost to Thunder 146/5
Sixers 158/3 beat Hurricanes 141 ao
Heat 174/8 beat Renegades 153/7

Top performances with the bat came from...
Suzie Bates 79*
Ash Gardner 79*
Rachel Priest 58*
Stafanie Taylor 55
Harmanpreet Kaur 52*
Ellyse Vilanni 52*
Heather Knight 51*

And with the ball...
Molly Strano 4/21
Rene Farrell 3/12
Kristen Beams 3/13
Maisy Gibson 3/23

In the build-up to Christmas there are four midweek games this week...
Hurricanes v Scorchers on Tuesday, with both teams desperate for a win. Scorchers are once again without Meg Lanning, and if Canes (still without Hayley Matthews) can keep the momentum they had against table-topping Sixers, they might just pull off a big win against a rather deflated Scorchers.

On Wednesday 4th place Heat take on 3rd place Stars, before the Heat boys get a turn at playing women's cricket. Both teams come into the game on the back of wins and it should be a tight match. Too close to call.

On Friday it is Thunder v Hurricanes and Strikers v Stars. Thunder are likely to prove too strong for Canes' bowling attack and should cement their place at the top of the ladder. Strikers will be keen to kickstart their season, which has fallen a bit flat after an opening weekend win over Heat. If they are to finish in the top four this is the sort of game they must win. A lot could depend on how Stars fared two days earlier (they got steamrollered by Grace Harris!!).

These games will be followed by another five games over the pre-Christmas weekend, but we'll get to those on Saturday morning, after the dust has settled from these midweek fixtures.

Martin Davies