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

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

WBBL04 - R3 Preview

The opening games of WBBL04 are now well and truly behind us, and we are now getting into the meat of the competition. This is how the table looks at the moment 

and there are seven more games this weekend (see below), to be followed by another 10 games before Christmas - 29 of the 56 league games will then have been played.

This weekend's games
Stars v Scorchers
Strikers v Thunder
Hurricanes v Sixers
Stars v Scorchers
Thunder v Strikers
Hurricanes v Sixers
Renegades v Heat

After a disastrous opening round loss to the unfancied Stars, Sixers got their WBBL04 on track with convincing wins over much more fancied opponents, Scorchers and Thunder, in R2. R3 sees them facing Hurricanes twice at their home at the Blundstone Arena. Canes, probably without Hayley Matthews (now confirmed), are likely to struggle to contain Sixers' batting line-up, and there could be some big scores on the cards. Sixers are likely to take all four points.

In another double-header Stars entertain the Scorchers twice at home at Casey Fields. Scorchers, currently bottom of the ladder, would have been desperate to have Meg Lanning back in their line-up, after she missed the last two games with a back niggle, but she is out again this weekend too. Stars are flying high with a 2/3 record so far, but Scorchers might just clip their wings for them this weekend. Both these games are likely to be high scoring, with one stand-out performance swaying it one way or the other.

The third double-header is an intriguing back-to-back between Strikers and Thunder, with both sides away from home at the Blundstone Arena. Both these games could go right to the wire, and I wouldn't be surprised if honours were even after the two games have been played. A big innings from Harmanpreet Kaur (Thunder) or Sophie Devine (Strikers) could well be the deciding factor.

And finally Gades take on Heat at Geelong, south west of Melbourne. I'm backing Danni Wyatt and Sophie Molineux and the rest of the girls in red to take the two points to keep themselves in contention at the top of the table. Gades true status in the competition may be shown next week when they have back-to-back games with Scorchers at the WACA. 

Martin Davies

Sunday, 9 December 2018

WBBL04 - R2 Review

Here are the results from the second week of WBBL04 fixtures, which saw Sydney Sixers pick up two wins out of two to take them to the top of the ladder, but only on NRR.

Scorchers 167/9 lost to Sixers 171/4
Hurricanes 158/6 lost to Stars 159/5
Strikers 153/7 lost to Renegades 154/4
Scorchers 103/8 lost to Heat 104/3
ixers 168/4 beat Thunder 132/7
Hurricanes 196/6 beat Stars 124 ao
Renegades 83/4 (14.3) v Strikers 27/2 (4.3) - no result
Thunder 192/4 beat Heat 164 ao

With Sixers on four points are Sydney Thunder, who lost to Sixers, but then beat Heat; and Melbourne Stars, who won one and lost one against Hobart Hurricanes.
Strikers and Renegades have 3 points after Gades beat Strikers off the last ball on Saturday, and Sunday's return game was abandoned with just three balls needed for the game to have been completed.
The table is completed by Canes, who picked up their first win in their second encounter with the Stars; Heat, who beat the Scorchers and then lost to the Thunder; and the Scorchers themselves - all on 2 points - who got nothing from the weekend.

The weekend really belonged to Sixers, and to Ellyse Perry in particular. She scored her maiden T20 ton as Sixers easily chased down Scorchers 167/9 with just four wickets down on Friday night. Her 102* came off 59 balls, the last one of which she struck for 4 to win the game. Rested on Saturday Sixers came out again on Sunday against Thunder with Perry again at the fore, scoring 74*, as Sixers posted 168/4. For a while even Perry had to play second fiddle to Erin Burns, who was imperious in hitting 44 off 22 balls. Thunder's Rene Farrell slotted into second place on the most runs conceded list with 0/50 off her 4 overs. Thunder never really recovered from being 35/4 and despite Harmanpreet Kaur's 45, they finished 36 runs short.

After a late night on Friday Scorchers performed poorly with the bat against Heat in their Saturday outing, posting just 103/8 in their 20 overs, a total which they never looked like defending. They were without Meg Lanning for both games, who had a back twinge, but it is their bowling that continues to look thin.

Another team thin on bowling resources - Canes - contrived to lose to Stars on Saturday, despite scoring 158/6, courtesy of a fine 82* from Heather Knight. They had Stars 23/4 at the end of the powerplay, and still needing 100 from the last 10 overs, but some poor fielding allowed Erin Osborne (67) and Mignon du Preez (59*) the opportunity to set up a Star's win by five wickets. In the reverse fixture on Sunday Canes put a massive 196/6 (the third highest ever WBBL team score) with Smriti Mandhana top-scoring with a rather fortuitous 69. It was Stars' turn to look ordinary in the field, and they never looked like getting close in the run chase.

The best game of the weekend was the first encounter between Renegades v Strikers. Suzie Bates (54), Sophie Devine (39) and Tahlia McGrath (33) set up the Strikers' innings of 153/7, and when they removed Danni Wyatt, for a well-made 62, Gades were 92/4 and looked unlikely to get home. But Claire Koski (39*) and Erica Kershaw (30*) got the game to last over with eight still needed to win. Sophie Devine restricted them to four singles from the first five balls, but Koski stepped across her stumps and swept the last ball for 4 to win the game for the Gades. The return fixture the next day looked to be heading to an equally tight finish, before rain intervened for the second time with Strikers 27/2 after 4.3 overs, chasing 78 off 11 overs. The Strikers would have needed six more runs at the end of the 5th over to have won the game on DLS.

The final game of the weekend saw Thunder pile on 192/4 against Heat with the top five Thunder batsmen all enjoying themselves. Harmanpreet Kaur top-scored with 52 off 26 balls. Grace Harris muscled her way to 54 off 28 balls in reply including five 6s, but Heat still finished 28 runs short, bowled out in the 19th over.

Round 3 of WBBL04 is next weekend with seven more fixtures, including four being played in Hobert. The games are :-

Stars v Scorchers
Strikers v Thunder
Hurricanes v Sixers
Stars v Scorchers
Thunder v Strikers
Hurricanes v Sixers
Renegades v Heat

We'll preview all the games later in the week.

Martin Davies

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

WBBL04 - R1 Review & R2 Preview

WBBL04 is up and running and the highlight of the first round of fixtures has to be Lizelle Lee's stonking 102* for the unfancied Melbourne Stars, which took them to victory over the tournament favourites Sydney Sixers. Sixers' 165/7 was a decent effort, but from an opening partnership of 108 between Alyssa Healy (70) and Ellyse Perry (58), they should have done better. New Star player Nicola Hancock picked up 4/22 as the Sixers added just 65 in their last nine overs.

However with Lee in the mood for a big knock it may not have mattered much. She muscled the second over from Lauren Cheatle for 0-4-4-6-0-4, and never really looked back after that. It was fitting that she got to her 100 with her third 6 of her innings, to add to her sixteen 4s - only three of those 19 shots being played on the offside. 

The other three games went to form, although the depleted Hurricanes (none of their overseas stars were playing) gave Scorchers a bit of a scare as they tried to chase down 144 to win. Meg Lanning opened, but was gone by the end of the third over, and when Elyse Villani (58) paddle swept skipper Maloney to backward square leg, Scorchers were 99/4, with 33 balls to come and 45 still needed. But Lauren Ebsary (40*) and Chloe Piparo (26*) kept their cool and brought the Scorchers home with three balls to spare.

Strikers put 172/7 on the board against Heat, courtesy of 89 from Sophie Devine, and Heat meandered to 136/2 to lose by 36 runs, despite having eight wickets in the shed. Beth Mooney (63*) and Kirby Short (62*) batting for the draw apparently.

Finally Renegades were thumped by Stars after they could only muster 98/8. Seasoned pro Rene Farrell took 3/17 as the Gades' batsmen struggled. In response Thunder never looked to be in trouble, but contrived to lose four wickets, all to WBBL debutante Tayla Vlaeminck (4/29). 

Round 1 Scores

Hobart Hurricanes 143/7 lost to Perth Scorchers 147/4
Sydney Sixers 165/7 lost to Melbourne Stars 166/3
Adelaide Strikers 172/7 beat Brisbane Heat 136/2
Melbourne Renegades 98/8 lost to Sydney Thunder 99/4

Round 2 starts with a potential cracker of a game on Friday night between Sixers v Scorchers - the first of four games at the North Sydney Oval. England's Amy Jones should strengthen Scorchers' batting line-up and put some more pressure on behind the stumps. Sixers will be smarting from their opening day loss, and I think their batting line-up will prove too strong for the Scorchers' bowlers.

Saturday sees four more games :-
Canes v Stars - Stars have to travel to Tassie to play both of their games against the Canes at West Park in Burnie, on the north of the island. Canes should have England captain Heather Knight and Indian star Smriti Mandhana in their line-up, and Windies Hayley Matthews, who reportedly broke a toe in training last week, has also been named in the squad. I think it could be honours even over the two games.

Renegades v Strikers - Gades will be very pleased to welcome England's Danni Wyatt to open their innings after struggling with runs in Game 1. But Strikers' bowling could again keep the lid on the Gades' scoring, giving Strikers a second win.

Heat v Scorchers - Scorchers will be targeting this for a win. Heat struggled with bat and ball against the Strikers and they are very likely to do so again. It was interesting that Laura Wolvaardt did not bat in the top four against the Strikers.

Sixers v Thunder - After their big game on Friday night, Sixers are faced with another epic battle on Saturday night against Alex Blackwell's Thunder. Whether beleaguered Indian T20 skipper Harmanpreet Kaur makes the starting XI for Thunder is a matter for conjecture, but with or without her, Thunder may struggle to win this one.

Three games on Sunday round off the weekend, including the repeat Canes v Stars fixture.
Strikers v Renegades is a repeat of Saturday's fixture, but the teams will be hot-footing it from North Sydney Oval on Saturday to the Eastern Oval in Ballerat for the Sunday game. It's unlikely that the change in venue will produce any different result - a third win for Strikers looks likely.
Thunder v Heat - Final game of an exhausting weekend and Thunder should come out on top, leaving Heat 0-3.

Round 2 Games

Sixers v Scorchers 
Hurricanes v Stars 
Renegades v Strikers 
Heat v Scorchers 
Sixers v Thunder 
Hurricanes v Stars 
Strikers v Renegades 
Thunder v Heat

Martin Davies