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!