The story of the new year has really been the Melbourne Renegades, dragging themselves back into contention with a hat-trick of wins. Though the Renegades will be kicking themselves for losing a precious half point for a slow over rate, and remain in last position, they are now in touch with a top four finish, which is all you need to make the semi-finals and be in with a shot!
At the other end of the table, the Sydney Sixers have gone top, after also having won all 3 of their games this week.
The Renegades started the new year with a Duckworth-Lewis win over the Stars, which left Melbourne skipper Meg Lanning red-faced after it emerged she didn’t understand the rules – she assumed that the “set” target would be adjusted after the Renegades lost a wicket chasing 7 off 21 balls. (The target can change in other circumstances, but not in this situation, where it had been “set” prior to the resumption of play.) The Renegades followed this up with a win against the Scorchers and another victory over the Stars, with Danni Wyatt finally getting in on some WBBL action – top-scoring on both occasions with 43 v the Scorchers, and 40 v the Stars.
The much-fancied Adelaide Strikers have been struggling this year, short on batting with Charlotte Edwards out with a back injury and Sophie Devine also missing due to domestic commitments back home in New Zealand. Both are expected back for the next round of games; and they need them, having posted sub-100 totals against the Scorchers and the Sixers, and also falling well short chasing 161 in their other game v the Sixers, despite a 50 from Tammy Beaumont.
The Brisbane Heat notched-up wins against the Thunder and the Hurricanes, thanks mainly to Beth Mooney, who made 75 v the Thunder and 78 v the Hurricanes, without being dismissed on either occasion – the keeper-batsman is now second in the run charts, behind only Meg Lanning, and it looks increasingly like there ought to be a ticket to England with her name on it for the World Cup this summer.
Though they lost out to the Heat, the Hobart Hurricanes did at least rack-up a big NRR-boosting win against the Thunder earlier in the week – Heather Knight smashing 47 off 29 balls, as they posted 171 – the highest total of WBBL02.
The Sixers 2nd win against the Strikers was their 7th consecutive win in a run chase.
They’ve only lost one, back in their 3rd match of WBBL01.
Perry averages 142 in WBBL run chases (and just 23.88 batting 1st) and has yet to be dismissed chasing in WBBL02.
Despite their record when chasing they’ve only chosen to field once when they’ve won the toss (16 times).
The Sixers also have the highest average 1st innings total in WBBL02 (138) and are the only team to have posted more than one 150+ total batting first.
The Scorchers loss to the Sixers was their first loss in a run chase in WBBL02.
The Heat’s opening partnership totaled 85 runs over their first 5 matches of WBBL02. In their last four matches their opening stands have been 49, 62, 63, 86.
The Strikers are the only side to have been bowled out twice in WBBL02. The Renegades are the only other to have been bowled out at all.
The Hurricanes 171 is the only 150+ WBBL total in which no player scored a half-century.
Sarah Aley now has the joint most WBBL career wickets (32) along with Rene Farrell and Molly Strano.
This league is really hotting up now. Unsurprisingly, I love it. It’s looking more competitive and closer than WBBL01. That finished with a 10-point gap between 1st and last place (18 pts vs 8) and a 4-point gap in the table also, which we might not see this time.
Sixers are looking very impressive. They’ve been strong in the field of late and Gardner is a revelation. She scored 40 off 23 balls in their last match whilst the other main scorers, Bates and McGlashan were at little over half that strike rate. With a run-in featuring Scorchers, Hurricanes, Thunder and a double-bill against the lowly Renegades, they must be supremely confident of qualification and probably a top-two finish.
Stars however are in freefall right now. After some strong early performances they have been slow in the back 10-overs of their batting. It’s a real conundrum for Stars because they’ve scored the most runs (1145) and have the best batman in Lanning (384 runs) but their highest score in last 4 matches is 127, despite only losing 22 wickets over that time. They’re not being bowled out! The opening partnership is making over half (55%) of their runs in the last 4 games, but they’ve not been putting enough total runs on the board to support a bowling attack that has lacked control at crucial times. Ingles has been struggling to find the gaps in recent matches and her strike rate has really dropped. Despite the opening partnership, I’d be looking to change the batting order.
I can’t see losing the excellent Hazell for the “merely” very good Beams helping much, but their main problem has been their middle order, and bowling. Lanning is a great batsman and fine captain but needs a refresher on the DLS rules I think! DLS-set Targets for the chasing team don’t change unless play is interrupted again. I think she was getting confused with the DLS par-score, which does increase with the loss of wickets but is an entirely different thing as it’s not a target but merely a guideline if no more play were possible from that point on.
Their run-in includes big matches against the Scorchers and Hurricanes but before that Stars have the task of 2 games vs. the Strikers, one of their closest rivals. These are massive games and a double win for one side could see the other all but eliminated. For a serious chance, Stars must be ruthless, turn their luck around and take four points here. They do have the benefit of good NRR though which might help them.
Hurricanes have a big week coming up. If they can overcome Heat later, a win against Sixers on Friday the 13th (!) will be less vital, and they will then face a desperate Thunder next Monday, and Stars on the 20th.
Thunder are in a spot of bother after a strong start. They are barely in a better position than Renegades, having played the same number of games, and will almost certainly need to win at least 3 if not all of their remaining fixtures to squeeze in the qualification spots. Seeing as they have to play Sixers, Hurricanes and Scorchers (twice), they might struggle to do this! They have the capability to make it, but it’s looking less likely for them now.
Heat have to play Hurricanes again and Renegades twice, then Strikers. With the addition of Winfield they must be confident of squeezing into the top four. It’s been impressive from them recently with all their players making contributions. Although Heat don’t feature in many of the top stats so far, they have managed a strong collective effort and on their day can challenge anyone. The form of Mooney must be scaring opposition bowlers, but Heat have plenty of runs to draw from elsewhere too.
Scorchers slipped up against Sixers and face them again later. They might not be able to win but must again try to limit damage to their NRR. They then have Strikers, Stars and Thunder coming up. All the matches from here on in are huge but with a positive NRR Scorchers must be confident they can qualify, 3 wins from 5 should see them through. With the English opening bowling partnership of Brunt and Shrubsole starting to fire, and the excellent Emma King providing spin support, Scorchers must be confident they won’t be chasing huge targets too often. This might be best as they have looked a little wobbly at times if they lose early wickets.
Renegades have come on strong after a poor start, but that extra half-point they’ve been docked could prove costly. Wyatt has “ghosted” into 6th place in the top run scorers with 235, the top English player. She’s been very consistent.The ‘Gades have to win probably all of their last 4 matches given their poor NRR, which are: Two double bills, firstly against an in-form Heat side and then a dominant Sixers. They’re almost out, given the run-in, but must be hoping that Sixers would already be through by the time they play them and might let their foot of the gas a little, in preparation for the semis. It’s a bit of a forlorn hope to cling to!
“with Danni Wyatt finally getting in on some WBBL action”. If Danni Wyatt has finally got in some WBBL action with scores of 5, 34*, 25, 35, 2, 26, 24, 1*, 43 and 40 then how would you describe the contribution of other England batsmen in the WBBL ?
… also worth checking out Danni’s Player of the Match photo (against The Stars). She’s always looked about 14 years old but the photo suggests she’s really only 12 years old !
In addition to the runs themselves, what’s impressed me about Danni Wyatt’s innings is that she has both the facets I think a middle-order T20 player needs: she can turn the strike over to a more dominant partner, but also find the boundary herself. Seems to me she’s best suited to No. 3 or 4 rather than being used as a late-innings biffer, where she perhaps doesn’t have the raw power needed to come in and quickly accelerate the run rate.
It’s no reflection on Deandra Dottin to say that the Heat’s performance seems to have improved since she was injured. She’s stayed on in Australia and is hoping to be available for the semis if the Heat make it that far – I’m very impressed by her courage, and indeed the WBBL has a number of inspiring stories of players’ determination to overcome illness and injury to play.