After a century to savour, Sophie Devine aims for consistency
Sophie Devine has hit 113 sixes in 81 Women’s Big Bash League matches. Her tally is almost double of the next person on the list. Sydney Sixers’ Ashleigh Gardner has cleared the rope 63 times in 88 matches. It’s an impressive number, but pales in comparison to Devine.
“It probably shows that I don’t like running that much,” the Perth Scorchers skipper chuckled when asked about her six-hitting prowess in a media conference on Monday (October 25).
The right-hander had, only a day before, blasted a 60-ball 101 against a hapless Sydney Thunder at the Aurora stadium in Launceston. Her third WBBL hundred and mammoth 173-run opening stand with Beth Mooney headlined Scorchers’ 81-run demolition of Hannah Darlington’s team.
Through her knock, Devine hit eight fours and six sixes, slog sweeping the spinners for fun. After getting off to a relatively slow start, where she strolled to 19 off 20 deliveries, her next 31 runs came off 12 balls, and the following 50 took just 26 balls.
“For me it’s just being smart and targeting certain areas,” she explained. “Things become really clear, I guess, when you get in a zone like that. And for me it was about targeting one end in particular with the wind going that way.”
While Devine’s knock took the headlines, her opening partner Beth Mooney also played a steady hand with a 54-ball 65 that included six fours. The left-hander was the perfect foil to her captain, feeding her the strike once she got on a roll.
“It’s always nice to clear the rope, but I think the great thing about the partnership between me and Beth Mooney yesterday was that we really complemented each other,” Devine remarked. “Hitting to different areas and being able to access different parts of the ground, that puts pressure on the bowling unit.”
Not one to dwell on personal milestones, Devine showered praise on her opening partner, adding that it was Mooney’s ability to keep her grounded that allowed her to maintain a sense of calm and composure at the crease – picking her moments and areas to attack, rather than swinging for the fences every ball.
“I think that’s one of the strengths of batting with Moons – she keeps me pretty grounded which I think is really important. I think, sometimes, I do get a little bit eager and want to try and swing the bat every ball. So, having a partner like her down the other end who sort of just keeps things in check and keeps reiterating to play to my strengths, picking the ball and not having to go after everything.”
“I think we showed that we can be a bit slow at the start, but we both know that we can cash in towards the back end of the innings. So, it is certainly a case of I guess reining the ego in, in particular, and making sure that I’m not getting ahead of myself. Having someone like Beth Mooney down the other end who is certainly a calming influence on me is a massive advantage.”
In WBBL06, Mooney and Devine finished in the top three run-getters in the tournament with 551 and 460 runs, respectively. However, Scorchers’ middle order, who had little to do through the start of the tournament, failed to deliver when the pressure was on.
While the side have bolstered their batting resources this season with the inclusions of Chamari Atapattu and Marizanne Kapp, the skipper admitted that the opening pair’s consistency, and their ability to stitch together match-winning partnerships is one of their main points of focus this season.
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“We spoke at length before the game about wanting to put together a partnership. We probably haven’t had a real game-winning one this season so far. So, it was nice to spend a bit of time out in the middle with Moons who is just such a smart player.”
“The way we talk about it as a team as well, is that partnerships are really important to us. And we know that match-winning partnerships can change the game, and certainly, I guess, last night was an example of that.”
The most successful overseas batter in the WBBL, and the third highest run-getter so far, with a total of 2772 runs under her belt at a strike rate of 130, Devine hopes her hundred will mark the start of a more consistent period of run-scoring for her.
“I think you always want to have knocks like that where you can strike the ball alright. But for me it’s about consistency,” she maintained.
“I think in the first two games of the season I probably got starts and haven’t been able to kick on which has been frustrating. So, it was absolutely great to score runs yesterday, but for me it’s about making sure that every game I am contributing and helping the team get into winning positions.”
“Consistency is the biggest part. Runs here and there isn’t good enough for me. It’s about churning out the runs to a high level consistently.”