Random Thoughts: WBBL02

Strength In Depth

A year ago, we were musing that having 8 teams in WBBL was perhaps as much as two too many; but this season has shown those fears to have been unfounded – it has given us 50-odd games of high-class cricket. While there were winners and losers, of course, no team was totally outclassed through the tournament as a whole; and no player looked like she didn’t deserve to be there. It may be true that the Aussies have a seam problem – though the leading bowler in the tournament, Sarah Aley, is a seamer – but WBBL02 makes it clear that they nevertheless have a strength in depth that has to be the envy of the world.

Having The Best Player Is Overrated

Though Beth Mooney was named the official Player of the Tournament, there isn’t much doubt who the best cricketer in the world is – Meg Lanning is the T-1000 of the women’s game, and seems virtually certain to break almost every record in the book before she retires. (Though I have an inkling she won’t overtake Charlotte Edwards’ 10,264 international runs.) But as in WBBL01, the Women’s World T20, and now in WBBL02, it seems like having the best player isn’t enough, as Lanning’s Melbourne Stars crashed out in the group stages. Cricket might be the most individual of team games… but it is still a team game!

A Crowded(ish) House

Cricket Australia tell us that 100,000 spectators watched WBBL02, which is impressive stuff, when you consider that KSL averaged just over 1,000 per game; but… all of those KSL games were stand-alone; whilst a full quarter of the total Aussie spectators (25,000) were for just one match: a double-header – the Melbourne derby on New Year’s Day. Take out this game (even ignoring the other double-headers) and the average for WBBL02 was around 1,500 per match – not too shabby, by any means; but not that much more than the KSL, which was only in its first year after all, and without the men’s teams to piggy-back aboard.

Don’t Read Too Much Too Early Into Individual Performances

WBBL02 has seen some impressive performances from young players; but looking back to WBBL01, I wonder if both the Southern Stars selectors, and we in the media, were too quick to pile the pressure on young players after one good tournament, leading to a couple of last year’s breakout stars comparatively under-performing this time around? Tournament “Young Gun”, 19-year-old Ashleigh Gardner, could come to England next summer and tear it up at the World Cup… but on the other hand, she has time on her side, and she might actually just need it! Her international call-up, pretty-much on the basis of one successful tournament, should be considered carefully against the question of whether she really is the finished article yet – some are at that age… but some aren’t; and the surest way to drown someone is to throw them in before they are actually ready to swim!

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2 thoughts on “Random Thoughts: WBBL02

  1. Thanks for this – plenty of good points here.

    I’d offer something on the WBBL attendances – they are a bit better than one might expect, given the number of matches played. In the KSL, as there were 2 fewer teams plus they only played each other once, the number of matches was 17 in total, only about a third of the matches in WBBL02. Would the KSL attendances have held up as well over such an extended period? Perhaps not…

    Also on the issue of too much pressure on a player following a successful introduction into the game, a good case to compare this to is that of Ashton Agar. After making 98 at the Trent Bridge Ashes test in 2013, he has not managed to find that sort of form much since, although he is still obviously a very good player. There was an excellent article on Cricinfo about this a while ago, describing precisely what happened and how CA got it wrong. The crux of it was that the expectation placed on a player after just one great performance can be too much, especially if they have emerged very rapidly and have been thrust in at the deep end, and do not have the right kind of support.

    I think Gardner will be OK if she does make the world cup squad, since there are mitigating factors for her. There is still a bit less exposure of the players to the media in the women’s game. She has already had a taste of responsibility as captain of an Aussie indigenous side; and having broken through over the course of months rather than just one innings, has had time to cement her place as a quality player able to reproduce her form on a regular basis. Plus she would be part of the team that probably have the best chance to win the competition outright, so would have a larger buffer zone around her.

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  2. I think on the issue of depth, while the batting took a step up compared with WBBL01 (certainly in terms of intent if not in all areas of scoring) there was a bit of an issue with bowlers. Some of the teams were pretty toothless, particularly defending totals.

    The average no. of wickets taken per match in WBBL02 was 11.28 which is lower than all editions of World T20 as well as WBBL01 or the KSL. Only one of those 7 other tournaments has averaged below 12 wickets taken per match (11.87 at the 2012 World T20).

    The change in batting intent was best exemplified by the number of sixes hit (162 vs 111 in WBBL01).

    Overall the run rate in WBBL02 (6.43 RPO) improved compared with WBBL01 (6.29). This stat also illustrated just what a shame it was that the KSL (6.64) wasn’t televised/streamed.

    1st innings totals weren’t massively higher (average 126.60 for WBBL02 vs 125.03 in WBBL01). KSL average was 133.76 incidentally.
    Unsurprisingly in a tournament with so many successful run chases it was the run rate in the 2nd innings (6.48) where the biggest improvement was seen (WBBL01 6.25). The KSL averaged 6.56.
    No edition of the World T20 has averaged over 6 rpo in the 2nd innings.

    The number of 150+ totals (9) in WBBL02 was actually down on WBBL01 (12). The KSL saw an impressive 9 in just 17 matches.

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