WBBL03 semi-final notes: Strikers vs Sixers

Sydney Sixers 138/5 beat Adelaide Strikers 121/9 by 17 runs.
Cricket Australia scorecard

Sophie Devine was a WBBL player before the WBBL existed, or anyone had imagined the type of cricket being played in WBBL03.  Since the tournament’s inception, Devine has led the way in six hitting, both in terms of the total number of sixes and the rate at which they are hit, but for the first time she’ll finish a WBBL season without clearing the boundary rope most often.

Ashleigh Gardner’s six sixes vs the Strikers today rocketed her past Devine (and Lizelle Lee) to a new record total of twenty sixes for the season.

While the rate at which Devine hits sixes has been largely consistent throughout her WBBL career, Gardner has significantly improved with each passing season, and in WBBL03 she’s currently clearing the rope at an unprecedented rate of once every two overs.

Balls faced per six (3+ sixes hit) :

WBBL01 (season ave 121.6)
18.1 SFM Devine (Strikers)
19.0 NE Stalenberg (Thunder)
23.4 GM Harris (Heat)
29.4 SJ McGlashan (Sixers)
54.6 MM Lanning (Stars)
55.0 A Gardner (Sixers)

WBBL02 (season ave 80.1)
15.4 SFM Devine (Strikers)
20.4 KH Brunt (Scorchers)
23.0 H Kaur (Thunder)
26.0 GM Harris (Renegades)
27.7 A Gardner (Sixers)
43.0 AJ Healy (Sixers)

WBBL03 (season average 65.00)
11.7 A Gardner (Sixers)
17.8 SFM Devine (Strikers)
18.5 L Lee (Stars)
21.1 JL Jonassen (Heat)
24.5 CJ Koski (Renegades)
27.7 DM Kimmince (Heat)

Gardner’s 2nd six of her semi-final innings was also the 200th struck in WBBL03.  The season tally now stands at 204 with a game to go.  There were 111 sixes struck in WBBL01 and 162 in WBBL02.  The Sixers have, appropriately enough, hit 46 of the 204 sixes (22.5%) this season.  The next best teams (Sydney Thunder & Brisbane Heat) have 28.

Gardner needs 48 runs to break the 1,000 WBBL career runs barrier. If she does so from fewer than 40 deliveries, Gardner will break the record for fewest balls faced to reach that mark.  The record (800 BF) is currently held by her Sixers teammate Alyssa Healy.

Gardner’s 72 (45) was the 2nd highest score made in a WBBL knock-out game, beaten only by Healy’s 77 (45) in Sixers’ semi-final win vs Hobart Hurricanes in WBBL02.  Gardner & Perry’s 87 run 2nd wicket stand, of which Gardner contributed 69 runs, was the highest partnership in a WBBL knock-out match, and the Sixers highest ever partnership vs the Scorchers.

Adelaide Strikers’ Tammy Beaumont’s 50 (46) in the semi-final made her the first player to score a half-century in a WBBL knock-out game and end up on the losing side.

As well as holding the record for most WBBL career wickets (69), Sydney Sixers’ Sarah Aley has taken by far the most wickets in WBBL knock-out matches (12).

WBBL Most knock out wickets

Aley is the only bowler to have taken a four wicket haul in an elimination game.  Her 4-23 in Sixers’ victory over Perth Scorchers in the final of WBBL02 were the best figures in a WBBL knock-out match, until her own 4-18 vs Strikers today.

Best bowling figures in a WBBL knock-out match:

4-18 Sarah Aley (Sixers) v Strikers at Adelaide Oval,  02 Feb ’18,  WBBL03 S-F
4-23 Sarah Aley (Sixers) v Scorchers at WACA,  28 Jan ’17,  WBBL02 Final
3-9   Lisa Sthalekar (Sixers) v Hurricanes at MCG,  22 Jan ’16,  WBBL01 S-F
3-15 Dane van Niekerk (Sixers) v Hurricanes at The Gabba,  25 Jan ’17,  WBBL02 S-F
3-17 Emma King (Scorchers) v Thunder at Perth Stadium,  01 Feb ’18,  WBBL03 S-F
3-20 Rene Farrell (Thunder) v Scorchers at Adelaide Oval,  21 Jan ’16,  WBBL01 S-F
3-21 Erin Osborne (Thunder) v Sixers at MCG,  24 Jan ’16,  WBBL01 Final

Aley and Garth’s astonishing combined spell of 6 wickets for 3 runs in 18 balls not only effectively ended Adelaide Strikers chances of reaching the final, it also allowed the Sixers to rid themselves of an unwanted record they’d held since their second match of WBBL01.  The Sixers 15/5 vs Perth Scorchers at Aquinas College on 12th December 2015 were the most wickets lost in the powerplay of a WBBL innings until Aley & Garth  reduced the Strikers to 23/6 in the semi-final at Adelaide Oval.

It wasn’t the most talked about off-season move, but Erin Burns’ move from Hobart Hurricanes to Sydney Sixers was one of the signings of the season.  She won’t finish the season with a record runs total or an eye-catching high score, but Burns’ contributions have been key to the Sixers this season.  Before Gardner and Healy came back into form with a vengeance towards the end of WBBL03, it was often Burns that helped keep Sixers’ innings on track during the early-mid point of the group stage.

There was a reminder of that today when Sixers looked as though they mightn’t capitalise on Gardner’s innings.  It was Burns who hit a breezy 25 (17), including 12 off her last 6 balls faced to ensure the Strikers would need the best part of 7 runs an over to win.

Burns’ season strike rate of 118.25 is the 10th highest among players who have faced 100+ deliveries in WBBL03.  All but one of the players above her on the list have played international cricket.  Burns also has the most catches for Sixers this season (9).


Most WBBL career runs:
1,347  BL Mooney (Heat)
1,330  EA Perry (Sixers)
1,287  EJ Villani (Scorchers)
1,144  AJ Healy (Sixers)
1,134  AJ Blackwell (Thunder)
1,062  MM Lanning (Stars)
1,040  RL Haynes (Thunder)
983     NE Bolton (Scorchers)
964     SW Bates (Strikers/Scorchers)
952     A Gardner (Sixers)

Most WBBL career wickets:
69  Sarah Aley (Sixers)
54  Rene Farrell (Thunder)
53  Molly Strano (Renegades)
49  Katherine Brunt (Scorchers)
47  Nicola Carey (Thunder)
42  Marizanne Kapp (Sixers)
40  Amy Satterthwaite (Renegades/Hurricanes)
39  Jemma Barsby (Heat); Jess Jonassen (Heat)
37  Amanda Wellington (Strikers)



WBBL03 semi-final notes: Scorchers vs Thunder

Perth Scorchers 148/2 beat Sydney Thunder 121/8 by 27 runs.
Cricket Australia scorecard

There have been twenty-three 50+ opening stands in the WBBL this season.  Only five of those have been made in the 1st innings, including Nicole Bolton & Elyse Villani’s 65 run partnership at Perth Stadium today. Bolton & Villani’s partnership for Perth Scorchers was the second highest partnership in a WBBL knock-out match, beaten only by their own 67 run opening partnership vs Brisbane Heat in the semi-final of WBBL02.  Natalie Sciver & Heather Graham’s unbeaten 62 run stand for Scorchers 3rd wicket was the 3rd highest partnership in a WBBL elimination match.

WBBL highest knock out partnerships

Bolton and Villani have been by far the strongest opening partnership in the WBBL this season, having amassed over 300 more runs than the next most successful pairing (Beth Mooney & Kirby Short of Brisbane Heat) and making twice as many 50+ stands than any other partnership.  Bolton & Villani have faced 47.3 overs more than their nearest challengers, and on average face a fraction over 7 overs per opening partnership.

Their three 100+ stands this season also make Bolton & Villani the only WBBL partnership to have shared more than one century stand for any wicket over the course of their WBBL careers.

WBBL03 opening partnerships

Sydney Thunder’s regular opening pair of Rachael Haynes & Pachel Priest, while not as impressive as Bolton & Villani, had played a large part in their success up to this point.  As Haynes’ form tailed off after a breakneck start to the season however, the weaknesses in Thunder’s middle order began to tell.

Sydney Thunder’s top scorers in WBBL02 (average batting SR in WBBL02 was 101.22):

Alex Blackwell 386 runs at SR 109.03 SR
Harmanpreet Kaur 296 runs at SR 116.99
Stafanie Taylor 289 runs at SR 105.09
Rachael Haynes 264 runs at SR 106.02

Those players in WBBL03 (average batting SR in WBBL03 is currently 105.15):

Alex Blackwell 338 runs at SR 95.48
Harmanpreet Kaur 107 runs at SR 95.53
Stafanie Taylor 168 runs at SR 84.00
Rachael Haynes 426 runs at SR 120.67

Blackwell’s runs total is still impressive but her SR less so, especially in light of an increased rate of scoring across the board in WBBL03.  Blackwell’s record is mitigated somewhat by the fact that her low SR is partly due to her performing the anchor role in a number of successful low-scoring, low-pressure chases after the Thunder’s bowlers had contained the opposition.

Her 1st innings SR displays better intent at SR 107.17 in comparison with a more sedate SR of 75.57 in WBBL03 chases.  However, Blackwell was unable to alter her approach to the chase when the Thunder’s expansive openers were dismissed early and a more challenging target of 149 was required today.

Taylor’s season with the bat was a write-off in all respects.  Whether measured by total runs, or strike rate batting 1st (89.26) or 2nd (75.95), she rarely managed to bat with the impetus displayed in previous seasons.  Both Blackwell and Taylor hit five sixes last season but could manage just one apiece this time around, again despite sixes being struck at record rates in WBBL03 compared with previous seasons.

Harmanpreet Kaur largely spent her abbreviated WBBL spell at #5 and had little chance to influence the innings.  That Kaur and especially Taylor, tend to bat higher in the order for their respective national teams than they did for the Thunder this season, begs the question of whether the Thunder had the right batting order.  Fran Wilson’s semi-final knock of 46 off 28 from #7, well after the game had gone, did similar.  A Thunder side stacked with international batting talent only reached 150 once all season.

Haynes’ season began with 268 runs and four half-centuries in five innings.  In the following ten innings she scored 158 runs and had a high score of 43.  While the Thunder continued to churn out the results required for qualification, in retrospect there were signs that they might struggle in a high pressure knock-out match.

Having been one of the most impressive chasing sides all season, against Adelaide Strikers at Wagga Wagga on 21 January the Thunder could only muster a tie in pursuit of a modest 115 target, and were never in contention during the super over.

Three days later at Manuka Oval, the Thunder made surprisingly heavy work chasing down a target of 69 vs Melbourne Renegades, finishing with a 4 wicket victory.  They then looked powerless in failing to defend a total of 145 vs Brisbane Heat on 27th January.  The next day, the Thunder could only post 117/8 in their final group match vs the Heat. They came out the victors in that game but were aided by the Heat having to chase at a higher rate than usual, in an attempt to improve their net run rate.

Haynes’ massive improvement, the signing of Rachel Priest (264 runs at 118.91) and a return to form for Naomi Stalenberg (227 runs at 112.37), combined with strong bowling performances throughout the season largely made up for the fact that Sydney Thunder’s top three run-scorers from last year were progressing so slowly in the middle order.  In the semi-final their luck ran out.

The Thunder have averaged 7.42 wickets taken per innings against all opponents apart from Perth Scorchers this season, but have now taken just 10 Scorchers wickets in their three encounters in WBBL03 combined.  Their semi-final haul today, and the two wickets they took vs the Scorchers at the WACA on 8th January were the only instances of the Thunder taking fewer than four wickets in an innings this season.

At Perth Stadium the Thunder duly conceded their highest 1st innings total all season, and with Priest and Haynes facing 22 balls in total, the semi-final game was virtually gone by the end of the 5th over of the chase.

Katherine Brunt continues to be England’s  most impressive export to the WBBL. Brunt has taken a wicket in every match she’s played this season and her 23 wickets in WBBL03 mean she is just one scalp away from becoming the first overseas player and fourth bowler in all to take 50 WBBL career wickets.

Throughout WBBL03, commentators have repeatedly suggested that Natalie Sciver is having an indifferent season.  Sciver may not always have looked that fluent, but she has scored more runs in WBBL03 (337) than she did in her first two WBBL seasons combined (271).  Sciver, who has largely batted at #3-4 for Scorchers, has the 3rd most runs among player not to have opened the batting this season, and has the 8th highest SR (119.50) of any player to have faced 100+ deliveries.  Only Villani, Mooney, Haynes and Healy have more runs while maintaining a higher striker rate.  By contrast, Sydney Thunder’s Stafanie Taylor, who has mostly occupied same batting role, has the 3rd lowest batting SR (84.00) in the competition among the 49 players who have faced 100+ balls so far this season.

While Sydney Thunder’s Taylor and Blackwell offered diminished returns compared with last season, Perth Scorchers have managed to make up for the loss of Suzie Bates with Brunt’s best season with the ball, unexpectedly effective bowling returns from Nicole Bolton, and career best batting seasons for Villani, Bolton and new signing Sciver.

All three are having their best seasons in terms of total runs scored, individual high scores, number of fifties, number of sixes and batting strike rate.  Bolton in particular, with both bat and ball, is unrecognisable compared with the player who began WBBL01.

WBBL01 batting (average batting SR 97.61)
Elyse Villani (Scorchers) 326 runs at SR 112.41;  HS 72*;  2×50;  2×6
Nicole Bolton (Scorchers) 182 runs at SR 83.4;  HS 45
Natalie Sciver (Stars) 154 runs at SR 90.58;  HS 33;  1×6

WBBL02 batting (average batting SR 101.22)
Elyse Villani (Scorchers) 442 runs at SR 107.02;  HS 74;  5×50;  5×6
Nicole Bolton (Scorchers) 324 runs at SR 92.51;  HS 53;  1×50;  1×6
Natalie Sciver (Stars) 117 runs at SR 104.46:  HS 37;  1×6

WBBL03 batting (average batting SR 105.15)
Elyse Villani (Scorchers) 519 runs at SR 131.06;  HS 84*;  5×50;  7×6
Nicole Bolton (Scorchers) 477 runs at SR 103.24;  HS 71;  3×50;  10×6
Natalie Sciver (Scorchers) 337 runs at SR 119.50;  HS 84;  2×50;  3×6