The finalists from the previous edition of Women's Big Bash League, Brisbane Heat and Adelaide Strikers, started their WBBL06 campaign with comfortable wins on Sunday (October 25). The Strikers' bowlers and South Africa batting star Laura Wolvaardt ensured an eight-wicket victory against Hobart Hurricanes. For Heat, it was Grace Harris, who continued her good form from grade cricket and helped them defeat the star-studded Perth Scorchers by seven wickets.
Adelaide Strikers v Hobart Hurricanes
After losing the toss and being put in to bat by Adelaide Strikers, Hobart Hurricanes got off to the worst possible start. Strikers' stand-in skipper Megan Schutt dismissed Rachel Priest and Hayley Mathews off the first two legitimate deliveries of the match, before debutante Darcie Brown chipped in with the wicket of Nicola Carey, leaving Hurricanes reeling at 7 for 3 in two overs.
Joined by Corinne Hall, Naomi Stalenberg tried to build a partnership and revive the innings. The pair added 41 runs before Madeline Penna removed Hall for 15. With Amanda Wellington picking three wickets at regular intervals, the Hurricanes struggled to get themselves going.
Chloe Tryon scored an 18-ball 20 and Stalenberg made a run-a-ball 28 trying to get their team past the 100-run mark. However, Brown was brought back into the attack to clean up the lower-order, and 16-year-old did not disappoint. She finished with three wickets giving away just 13 runs in her four overs. Hurricanes were eventually dismissed for 84.
Despite the absence of their international stalwarts Suzie Bates and Stafanie Taylor, the Strikers did not have any trouble overhauling their target. Although they lost Annie O'Neil in the first over, their overseas recruit, Laura Wolvaardt, took the onus on herself to see them over the line.
Tahlia McGrath was happy to play second-fiddle to the 21-year-old before she was dismissed for 18 off 24 balls by Tryon. Wolvaardt made a 42-ball 51 with eight boundaries and remained not out till the end as the Strikers chased the below-par total in 14 overs with eight wickets to spare.
Brisbane Heat v Perth Scorchers
Chasing 133, the defending champions Brisbane Heat lost the wicket of Maddy Green in the powerplay. Their skipper Jess Jonassen joined Georgia Redmayne in the middle, and they kept the scoreboard ticking to keep the required run-rate under control.
The match was in a balance when Jonassen fell for an 18-ball 21. With Heat still needing 88 runs in 13.3 overs, Grace Harris made her way to the middle at No.4 and proceeding to take the attack to the Scorchers. Having taken a few deliveries to play herself in, Harris then broke the shackles when she took Nicole Bolton to the cleaners.
Scorchers' newly-signed skipper Sophie Devine ran out of ideas as Harris tonked five boundaries and three sixes on her way to a 37-ball 53. She added 78 off 56 balls with Redmayne who played the perfect foil to Harris with an unbeaten 34-ball 37. By the time the right-hander was dismissed by Heather Graham, she had made sure that Heat could not lose the match. They eventually chased the total in 17 overs with seven wickets to spare.
Earlier, the much-anticipated opening pair - Beth Mooney and Devine - provided the Scorchers with a brisk start in the powerplay adding 55 runs in the first eight overs. Heat skipper Jess Jonassen brought leg-spinner Amelia Kerr into the attack to break the partnership, and she responded with the wicket of Devine in her second over for a 27-ball 26.
Mooney, too, was not able to capitalise on the start as she was run out by the brilliant fielding effort of Georgia Prestwidge, whose rocket-arm caught the left-hander short by a few inches. After Mooney was dismissed for a 33-ball 37, Amy Jones and Nicole Bolton forged a partnership for the third wicket. They added 51 runs in 43 balls before Nicola Hancock dismissed Jones and Bolton for 25 runs each off consecutive deliveries in the penultimate over. Three wickets fell in the last over with Delissa Kimmince removing Sarah Glenn and Graham off the last two deliveries of the innings. Scorchers eventually made 132 for 7 in the 20 overs.
Perth Scorchers 132/7 in 20 overs (Beth Mooney 37, Sophie Devine 26; Nicola Hancock 2-25, Delissa Kimmince 2-26) lost to Brisbane Heat 134/3 in 20 overs (Grace Harris 51, Georgia Redmayne 37*) by seven wickets. POM: Grace Harris.
Hobart Hurricanes 84 in 16.3 overs (Naomi Stalenberg 28, Chloe Tryon 20; Darcie Brown 3-13, Amanda Wellington 3-19) lost to Adelaide Strikers 85/2 in 14 overs (Laura Wolvaardt 51*) by eight wickets. POM: Laura Wolvaardt.