Alyssa Healy lauds Lisa Griffith as Sixers look to bury the disappointment of last season

Lisa Griffith (2nd from left) being congratulated by her Sydney Sixers team-mates after picking up a wicket. © Getty Images

Sydney Sixers have been the team of Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) since its inception. Sydney Thunder may have won the title in the inaugural edition defeating them and Brisbane Heat may have emulated them by winning back-to-back titles in the last two seasons. But the Sixers, the most successful team in the league’s run so far, have been the most consistent making it to the final four times during the first four editions after losing the first five matches in the first season.

It took the cricket world by surprise when the two-time champions failed to make it to the semi-finals succumbing to five straight defeats during WBBL05 in a run that also saw Ellyse Perry getting ruled out with a shoulder injury.

The star-studded line-up expected themselves to make a comeback even in her absence, but the failure to do so made the pundits raise concerns about their ability to win without the talismanic skipper. This prompted Ashleigh Gardner, one of the key members of the squad, to hit out at the critics.

“It’s really disappointing to see that people don’t have faith in us when she’s not around. It’s pretty frustrating reading articles and hearing people say that we’re not going to win without her,” Gardner said in a media interaction during the last season.

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Ahead of the sixth season, Perry’s long lay-off with her hamstring injury and whether she will be fit in time to lead the Sixers side dominated the news. The 29-year-old did come back to lead the side and eventually hit the winning run too when they defeated Strikers by nine wickets in a rain-reduced match at the North Sydney Oval on Monday (October 26), but it wasn’t a Perry-show that kick-started the Sixers’ campaign.

Put into bat, Adelaide Strikers were rocked early losing opener Tahlia McGrath in the second ball of the innings off Marizanne Kapp for a duck.

“I think Jodie Hicks set the tone in that, first ball, to take a catch like that. We’ve been itching to get out there and play cricket so that you can probably see it in the field that we just wanted to be out there, run around it and play,” said Alyssa Healy, who was named player of the match for her 16-ball 27.

Lisa Griffith was one of the two changes the Sixers made in their 15-member squad ahead of the tournament otherwise choosing to keep the core that brought them success over the years intact. Griffith, who captained New South Wales (NSW) in a few matches in the Women’s National Cricket League (WNCL) during the 2019-20 season, made her move to the Sixers from their Sydney rivals Thunder ahead of the season.

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After young Stella Campbell bounced out in-form Laura Wolvaardt, Griffith came into the attack and made an impression immediately taking out Madeline Penna and Amanda-Jade Wellington in her first two legal deliveries for the Sixers to reduce the Strikers to 14 for 4. From there Strikers were playing catch up and couldn’t put enough runs on the board to challenge the team in magenta.

Lisa Griffith. © Getty Images

Lisa Griffith in action for Sydney Thunder. © Getty Images

“It’s great to see her in the magenta, obviously making the move across. She’s been such a great asset to our side, both on and off the field,” Healy said while talking about her NSW teammate’s performance.

“I think the leadership that she shows is second to none. It really helps out senior players and she’s got a great rapport with the younger players as well. To see her get her first wicket was really cool and I’ve got no doubt that she will play a key role for us moving forward.”

Perry will continue to make the headlines with her performances along with the other superstars in the side as the tournament progresses, but the Sixers will be hoping for their less celebrated players and younger players come to the fore with a great catch or a fantastic spell often as they look forward to avenging the disappointment of the last season and get back to their usual winnings ways.

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