The Women's Big Bash T20 competition has got off to a flying start in Australia with the first three games played in front of crowds of over 1,000 people (albeit they did not have to pay). [scorecards here]
The first two games were on Saturday at the Junction Oval in Melbourne where the Melbourne Stars, led by Meg Lanning, took on the Brisbane Heat, in two games, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. It was the Stars that came out on top by 20 runs and then 10 runs, as Meg Lanning dominated with the bat, scoring 90 and 75*. For the Heat Grace Harris swung hard for 42 and 37, and Jess Jonassen made 52 not out as the Heat fell just short. It goes without saying that Lanning's wicket is going to be key for Stars' opponents. It may pay teams to attack her early on in her innings with perhaps a slip and gully for the pace bowlers, and with off-spin, if available, as this has proved effective in the past. She does seem to be in a different class though once she gets going.
On Sunday the two Sydney teams - Thunder and Sixers - got their WBBL campaigns underway, and, against the odds, the Thunder came out on top by 9 wickets, thanks to a great bowling performance which restricted the star-studded Sixers (Healy, Perry, McGlashan, Kapp, Sthalekar) to just 101/9 in their 20 overs, and some sublime batting from West Indian Stafanie Taylor. Star of the show with the ball was 17 year old left-arm seamer Lauren Cheatle who took 4/20, with Rene Farrell also getting through her four overs for just eight runs. It is pressure like that that takes wickets, not necessarily for the bowler themselves, but for the team. With little pressure from the required run rate Taylor started slowly, but then launched into the Thunder's bowlers, including Ellyse Perry (0/24 off two overs). The game was over in the 14th over.
Next weekend the tournament really swings into gear with nine games in three days at three different venues - Aquinas College in Perth (four games involving the Scorchers, Heat and Sixers), Aurora Stadium in Launceston (four games involving the Hurricanes, Renegades and Strikers, including two day/nighters) and one match at the WACA (Scorchers v Heat). The schedule means that the Hobart Hurricanes will play four of their 14 games within two days, which could be tough.
It is probably too early to speculate on who might end up winning the inaugural WWBL trophy, or indeed who might get to the semis and the final, but we may have a slightly better idea after next weekend.