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

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