Australia’s 50-over WNCL goes into the WBBL “break” with 17-times champions the New South Wales Breakers atop the table and already looking odds-on to make a 22nd consecutive final.
The Breakers opened their season with a 6-wicket victory over the Queensland Fire, powered by a 93-ball century from Rachel Haynes; and Haynes was in the runs again, top scoring with 83 in a 90-run win over the Vic Spirit.
Following the Women’s Ashes it was Alyssa Healy who led the charge for the Breakers with 99 off 89 balls in a 7-wicket smackdown of the Western Fury; and then it was Ellyse Perry who stood up with 127 in a 97-run thumping of ACT Meteors, despite 4-24 off 10 overs bowled by the Meteors overseas star, South Africa’s Marizanne Kapp.
Second-placed Western Fury were run close in the opening game against the South Australia Scorpions – after the Fury posted 323-4, with centuries from Elyse Villani and Nicole Bolton, it looked to be all over for the Scorpions at 168-5, before a century partnership from Amanda Wellington (116) and Tabatha Saville (53) took the Scorpions close… but not quite close enough, as they were bowled-out in the 49th over, just 21 runs short.
The Fury had a rather more straightforward win over the Tasmania Roar, easily chasing 222 with 11 overs to spare; but were again run close by the ACT Meteors – Kate Cross the hero for the Fury that day, taking 3-22 as the Meteors were bowled out 23 short of a 237 run target.
In third place, the Queensland Fire may have one less win than the Fury, but sit just 2-points adrift of final qualification, after picking up 3 bonus points with big wins against the Roar and the Scorpions – Jemma Barsby taking 4-7 as the Scorpions were bowled out for just 104, chasing 163.
The Scorpions and Meteors, also with 2 wins each, will still believe they have a chance too if they can win both their remaining games and other results go their way; but it is probably game-over for the Vic Spirit already, as it is for the winless Roar.
The competition now takes a break whilst the players go off to their WBBL teams – not resuming until mid-February, when we have the last two rounds, with the final on February 24th.
NSW are clearly the strongest side, but it’s a bit closer between those in the chasing pack, and a few could feasibly join NSW in the final. Nice to see Amy Jones also got 67 off 70 balls the other day, top scoring for WA (WF) admittedly in a losing cause against the mighty Breakers.