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