Monday, 2 January 2017

Half term report on WBBL02

We are now 29 games into the 56 league games that will make up the league phase of WBBL02, so just over half-way through, and time for a quick review and a few predictions. Remember all of the eight teams are aiming for a top four slot that will see them into the semi-finals (on 23rd & 24th Jan) and a chance to make the final on 28th Jan.

Well before the season kicked off I made a few rash predictions (take a look here if you want to see them all). At that stage I suggested that the top four would be :-

Sydney Thunder, Sydney Sixers, Hobart Hurricanes and Adelaide Strikers

This is how they currently stand
It is tight. Very tight! So what happens from here? Here is my half-term report on each team and their prospects for the rest of WBBL02.

Sydney Thunder - The Thunder may be top of the league but they have been anything but convincing, with losses to the Stars, Sixers and Strikers, and only just clinging on in their latest game against the Heat. But with probably only three wins needed from their last six games, which include two against the Hurricanes and the Scorchers, they should make their way to the finals. A second win against the Heat tomorrow would be very handy.
Their top order batting has been steady, without being flashy. Led impeccably by Alex Blackwell they have all contributed - Stafanie Taylor, Rachel Haynes, and Harmanpreet Kaur. It seems their bowling is their weakness. Ten different bowlers have been thrown the ball to date and young left-armer Sam Bates is handling the responsibility of opening the bowling with some aplomb (8 wickets and going at 4.5 per over).
They should squeeze into the top 4.

Melbourne Stars  -  The Stars may have been lucky to pick up back-to-back wins against the Sixers early in this competition, because, Meg Lanning and Emma Inglis aside, their batting looks thinner than a cat-walk model. True Jess Cameron and Katie Mack have shown flashes and they have missed the injured Nat Sciver, but they contrived to lose to the Heat chasing 129, having been 100/1 in the 15th over. They also lost their last game to bottom of the table Renegades (albeit with some assistance from the rain).
If their batting looks thin then their bowling is positively emaciated. Their best bowler by far has been Danni Hazell, who is now heading back to chilly England. Kristen Beams is now fit and will retake her place in the squad. They desperately need her to hit the ground running.
Their next game is against the resurgent Scorchers in three days. I can see them struggling there, no matter how many runs Lanning gets.
I think they will struggle to stay in the top four, but may just cling on.

Perth Scorchers - The Scorchers have arguably the toughest run-in with double fixtures against Thunder, Stars and Sixers still to come, but they have looked fired up in their last couple of games, particularly with the ball in hand, with Katherine Brunt proving a handful, and youngsters Emma King and Heather Graham doing a decent job. They also have eight games still to come.
So far their batting has failed to fire, with Suzie Bates in particular struggling. Elyse Villani has a couple of decent scores under her belt, but no-one else has made 50. Nicole Bolton adds stability in the middle-order and pinch-hitter Brunt may come into her own in one or two games to come.
I think they will finish in the top four.

Sydney Sixers - With a top order of Healy, Perry, Gardner, McGlashan, van Niekerk and Kapp - all of who have looked in good touch - this is going to be a tough team to beat. Once again they made a poor start to the competition, as they did last year, but this time they stopped the rot early and have won their last three games at a canter. Despite Perry losing her bite with the ball, they have control through Kapp, Aley and Gardner, and if they can keep putting the runs on the board then the bowlers' job becomes a lot easier.
I cannot see them not making the top four.

Adelaide Strikers - Sophie Devine put in the batting performance of the tournament with her 103* off 48 balls against the Hurricanes, but she has been ploughing a rather lone furrow, until Tammy Beaumont (57) finally got some runs in a losing cause against the Sixers. Their batting line-up always looked rather meagre and injury to Charlotte Edwards has not helped in any way.
The Strikers' bowling is workmanlike, but no-one has really grabbed a game with the ball. Their last two games are against the Heat, but by then it may be too late for either team to make the top four.
I can see them being in a tussle with Stars and Hurricanes for fourth slot - perhaps just missing out on NRR.

Hobart Hurricanes  - The Hurricanes have lost games against the Scorchers and the Strikers, which they really needed to win and have the delight of dual match-ups against the Stars, Thunder and Sixers still to come. If they can pick up two wins over the Heat on 8th and 9th Jan, then they will still be in with a shout, but it looks a tough ask.
Heather Knight and Hayley Matthews have struggled to make an impression with the bat, but Matthews does have nine wickets with the ball. They missed Amy Satterthwaite in their last game, but hopefully she will return from New Zealand before they take on the Thunder in three days time.
They could still scrape into the top four/five, but it will be a struggle and could well lose out on NRR.

Brisbane Heat - If you are a Heat supporter then it has been a complete roller coaster of a ride so far and I cannot see that changing in the run-in to the semi-finals. Their cause has not been helped by the injury suffered by Deandra Dottin when she clashed heads with her own team-mate on the boundary. The Heat are looking to replace her, but there are not many very attractive international options out there. Even before Dottin's departure the Heat had been struggling for consistency. They had won and lost against the Stars, Sixers and Scorchers. Their saving grace is that they still have two games to play against the Renegades. Win both of those in mid January and they might still be in with a shout when they play their last two games against the Strikers, but it's a long shot.
Destined to finish in the bottom two.

Melbourne Renegades - They recently picked up a surprise 9 wicket win against the Stars in a rain affected match, but have generally looked off the pace of the other teams in the league. While their internationals have floundered somewhat, local youngsters Molly Strano and Sophie Molineux have seized their chances with both bat and ball, which could well see them in contention for a place in the national side pretty soon. Every cloud...
I think they will struggle to pick up another win. 

So on that basis my top four finishers would now be :- 

Sydney Sixers, Sydney Thunder, Perth Scorchers and Melbourne Stars

but it looks like it is going to be another nail-biting finish to the season!



  1. I think it's a decent call to say that the current top four will still be there at the end. For me Strikers have been disappointing and lucky to pick up extra points from no-results. They are the weakest batting team apart from Renegades and without Edwards rely heavily on Devine and Beaumont, who has only just started to produce for them.

    I can only see Strikers moving down the table. Hurricanes my go up a place or two but Scorchers, with 2 games in hand have a great chance for qualification now and have been quite impressive at times. Brunt especially impressive for me. Most of the England bowlers (Hazell, Brunt, Grundy, Shrubsole) have looked good but the batting from England players has been disappointing apart from one knock each from Knight and Beaumont. You say that Renegades internationals have floundered, but they've been better than some others. Harris hasn't contributed much yet but Priest and Tahuhu have had some good matches, and Wyatt has actually been quite consistent so far with a few solid contributions. Heat have been unpredictable, scraping though when I thought they would lose but, like this morning, losing 3 wickets in 3 balls and just falling short when it looked like they might make it. Overall though it could have been worse for them. They still have an outside chance. Kimmince hasn't been as good as I thought but both Barsby and Short look very neat players.

  2. The points table has continued to be tight! I thought the Hurricanes looked much better in their latest game in Launceston v the Thunder - changing the batting order paid dividends. I'd like to see the Hurricanes and the Heat both make it, though I agree the latter have a tough road. Overall, the Sixers look the strongest team to me - they are one of the few sides to have real batting depth. In contrast, the Stars and the Strikers are looking like one-player teams.