A feeling of déjà vu may engulf one at this year’s Women’s Big Bash League final. The nearly two-month-long tournament will see its denouement play out between the Sydney Sixers and the Perth Scorchers on Sunday. This is a rematch of last edition’s final. Table toppers Sixers will be hoping the déjà vu feeling also extends to the eventual result for they will be gunning for their second consecutive WBBL trophy. The Scorchers meanwhile will be hoping to avoid left holding the bridesmaid’s bouquet again.
The two semi-finals which catapulted the Sixers and the Scorchers into the decider were uncannily similar. The first semi-final involving the third-placed Perth Scorchers and the second-placed Sydney Thunder took place on Thursday. The Scorchers set a respectable total of 149 on the back of decent contributions by Elyse Villani (38 off 37), Nicole Bolton (37 off 26), Natalie Sciver (38 off 28) and Heather Graham (27 off 29). Sometimes, cricket really is a team game.
In response, the Thunder were in trouble slightly at 35-3 in the eighth over. By the eleventh over, they were stumbling around in the murk having collapsed to 46-5. In the end, they did well to reach to 120-8 in the allotted overs. Offspinner Emma King (3 for 17 from four overs) was the pick of the bowlers with a spell that would have made Ebenezer Scrooge proud. At one stage she had conceded only 4 runs in 3.4 overs.
The second semi-final was between the Sydney Sixers and Adelaide Strikers and it happened on Friday. The Sixers posted a similarish target of 139 with Ashleigh Gardner powering her way to a 31-ball fifty. She ended up with 72 runs off 45 balls, 6 of which were dispatched beyond the boundary.
As you may well have guessed by now, the Strikers too fluffed up their chase albeit in a more disastrous/spectacular (depending on which side you were supporting) manner. In the space of 18 balls, they were reduced to a blubbering wreck at 3-6. Yes, you read it right. 3-6 hasn’t been written in the Australian way. Medium pacer Sarah Aley was the destroyer-in-chief snapping up 4 wickets and conceding 18 runs in her 4 overs. Tammy Beaumont (50 from 46 balls) showed some resistance to take the Strikers towards some respectability. Ultimately they ended up on 121-9, furthering the similarities between the two semi-finals.
Based on current form (having topped the table) and history, the Sydney Sixers are favourites to lift the trophy. However, the Perth Scorchers can take confidence from the fact that they won both their league matches against the Sixers comfortably. Both those wins were set up by their bowlers, particularly Heather Graham and Emma King. Villani and Bolton have been formidable at the top of the order. Together they have racked up 996 runs this season. Villani (519) is only the fourth player to amass above 500 runs in a single WBBL season. Katherine Brunt tops the bowling charts having notched 23 wickets.
Thus Scorchers will pose a strong challenge to the star-studded Sixers. Ellyse Perry, the Sixers captain is also not far behind in the batting charts, piling up 516 runs though her strike rate of 99.61 may be a cause for concern. Sarah Aley and Dane van Niekerk are second and third in the wickets list bagging 22 and 20 wickets respectively. Marizanne Kapp and Brunt have identical impressive economy rates of 4.72.The venue for the final hasn't been announced yet, adding to the intrigue.
Thus Sunday’s encounter should prove to be a cracking finale to what has been a fine WBBL season.