|1. Hobart Hurricanes||2||2||0||4|
|2. Brisbane Heat||2||1||1||2|
|3. Adelaide Strikers||2||1||1||2|
|4. Melbourne Renegades||2||1||1||2|
|5. Sydney Thunder||2||1||1||2|
|6. Sydney Sixers||2||1||1||2|
|7. Perth Scorchers||0||0||0||0|
|8. Melbourne Stars||2||0||2||0|
After the opening fixtures of the WBBL, it is perennial wooden-spooners Hobart Hurricanes who sit clear atop the table, after two wins against Melbourne Stars. Aside from Perth Scorchers, who don’t play their first match until Wednesday, everyone else won one and lost one over a topsy-turvy weekend.
At North Sydney Oval, Brisbane Heat, Sydney Sixers and Sydney Thunder played out a win and a loss each; whilst in Adelaide, the Strikers shared the spoils in their “series” with the Melbourne Renegades.
So have Hobart Hurricanes finally found a way to play winning cricket? Or is this just a temporary glitch, before the order of the universe is restored and Sydney Sixers return to their predestined place at the head of the table?
There is no doubt that the Hurricanes are a very different team to last season. With the signings of Nicola Carey, Maisy Gibson, Belinda Vakarewa, and Tayla Vlaeminck they have an all-new bowling attack, and with Heather Knight as the fifth bowler, there isn’t a really weak link there, even if there isn’t a superstar either. (Though yes, ideally, you wouldn’t play Vakarewa and Vlaeminck on the same team – both are quick and capable of blowing batters away, but both are also liable to leak runs, and if they do it on the same day, it won’t be pretty!)
It is arguably on the batting side that the Hurricanes are weaker; but T20 is a game where you can often afford some spare parts in your batting line-up as long as the bigger names come through for you, and the signs are that they might. Heather Knight is class personified – we all know what she can do; Fran Wilson had a fantastic KSL and is out to prove she can do it in Australia, ahead of selection for the World Twenty20; and Chloe Tryon has actually turned up (some might say “for once”, though that isn’t entirely fair) facing 36 balls so far without being dismissed, scoring 75 runs at a Strike Rate of over 200. With that batting, literally no score is unchasable for the Hurricanes.
Will they do it every time? No, probably not! The Hurricanes aren’t going to be consistent – they are more likely to finish mid-table than top-table; but all they need to do is have a slightly better than evens record to make the semi-finals, and then all bets are off – as the Brisbane Heat proved last year, you are then two “performances” away from glory… and I certainly wouldn’t bet against two “performances” from this Hurricanes line-up.
I think the Hurricanes’ recruitment has been very shrewd this time around. Getting 3 up-and-coming, international-quality pace bowlers in Vlaeminck, Vakarewa and Carey was a big deal for them and I think they’ll do well. With the very exciting Fazackerly, Knight and Wilson added to the mix they have a strong side.
My other favourite side is of course Renegades with Beaumont and Wyatt, who have already shown what they can do. The ‘Gades also have other stars like Molineux (who’s looked a bit out of sorts so far), Wareham, Strano and Dooley who looks very promising. I am a bit worried about their bowling depth though. They seem to have no sixth bowler in the side at the moment and might need to rely on Wyatt if any of the current five have an off-day.
Interested to see how Scorchers go as well. They certainly have a very good squad.
Thunder are a funny side this year. They’ve lost a lot of good players, and are relying a lot on their youngsters combined with the significant experience of Blackwell and Farrell. It’s a risky strategy and I’m not sure they find it as easy as last year to qualify. But in Phoebe Litchfield they have found who appears to be an extraordinary talent. Given her extreme youth, her 50 against current champions Heat was almost unfathomably good. She looks more classy and composed than many veterans. We’ll see how things develop – she might get “found out” a bit (I’d suggest keeping third man and cow corner back against her), but the talent is surely there to be one of the best. England could do with a couple of young left-handers half as good as her. Maybe they already have them, but I’ve not seen it.
Looks like Stars might really struggle again this year. Strikers look slightly improved but will I think find it challenging to qualify again – but they could well manage it.
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