Gritty Tegan McPharlin underlines value to Adelaide Strikers

Tegan McPharlin plays a shot into the leg-side. © Getty Images

Adelaide Strikers were struggling at 56 for 6 in the 13th over against Sydney Sixers when wicketkeeper-batter Tegan McPharlin made her way out to the middle. The WBBL05 finalists had suffered consecutive losses, first against Melbourne Stars, and then against Brisbane Heat, and it looked like they were headed for another loss that would further dent their semi-final hopes. However, batting in only her fifth innings of the tournament, McPharlin’s unbeaten 41 – her career best score in the Women’s Big Bash League – was the difference between the sides as Strikers squeaked to a 14-run win.

“I think coming in down the order, that’s probably more my style of game when we’re in a bit of trouble, just because I like to take my time a little bit more to get into my innings,” McPharlin told reporters after her player of the match performance on Sunday (November 15).

With the Sixers’ bowlers tying the middle order down, and Ellyse Perry’s spell of 3 for 14 causing a bit of a collapse, McPharlin and Maddie Penna dug their heels in in an attempt to lay a better platform. The pair shared an important 38-run stand for the seventh wicket – a stand that came off just 4.4 overs – with Penna contributing a valuable 16.

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Aware of her limitations, McPharlin maintained focus on occupying the crease. She was conscious of the need to bat out the remaining overs in order to give her side a chance of reaching a half-decent score.

“Look, [the plan was to] face out as many balls as possible because I knew then that we would get a decent total on the board. And then I know we have a good bowling and fielding attack to defend that,” she said.

On a pitch that seemed to be slightly slow and assisting the spinners, run-making was a challenge, but McPharlin managed to get out of the blocks quickly, crunching a four and a six in the space of four balls, to race to 15 off 8 deliveries. She used her sweep shots to good effect, keeping the scoreboard moving when the boundaries were hard to come by. Her understanding of how she could manipulate the field, move around the crease, use the pace of the bowlers and almost irritate the opponents into submission was on display through her 26-ball stay.

“I’m not a big power hitter as such,” the right-hander said. “So that (walking in early) probably worked in my favour a little and I just thought clearly about what my areas were, what my plans were and tried to make a big partnership with whoever was down the other end.”

In her own inventive style, she injected some much-needed momentum into Strikers’ innings slapping a couple of boundaries off the penultimate over bowled by Dane van Niekerk. McPharlin walked across her stumps and shovelled the ball into her preferred mid-wicket region, bisecting the long on and deep mid-wicket fielders perfectly. Her late onslaught, that saw the team in blue collect 23 runs off the final three overs, helped Strikers to a competitive total of 119 for 8.

In the end, it was a total that proved to be more than enough for the Strikers, as the bowlers combined to restrict the Sixers to 105 in their 20 overs. It was, however, McPharlin’s knock that was the difference – no other batter from either side found run-making easy, hers was the defining contribution.

Crediting the bowlers and fielders for some outstanding work through the second innings, McPharlin said the likes of Katie Mack and Bridgett Patterson who patrolled the boundary on each side of the ground were exceptional through the day. While Patterson had nothing to show for her efforts, Mack’s speed across the ground and accurate throws resulted in two important run-outs – Marizanne Kapp and Maddy Darke.

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“With Bridget Patterson on one side, Katie Mack on the other… Those girls cut down so much, it’s unbelievable – to get a couple of run outs today was great reward.”

Thanks to their victory over the Sixers, Strikers have now moved up to sixth on the table with nine points, only one behind the trio of Sixers, Heat and Sydney Thunder. McPharlin said the side had done well to turn their form around after a disappointing last week, adding that the quick turnaround likely worked in their favour, making sure they didn’t dwell on what had passed on Saturday.

“I think the good thing about it is that we didn’t really have too much time to dwell on it. We played yesterday afternoon and then kind of had to park it, and then look ahead to this game against the Sixers and make sure we had our plans set. So, it was a great win for us because we go into a rest day now, on the back of a good win,” she said.

With four more matches to play over the course of the next week, Strikers will be hoping that they continue to find players who are able to put their hand up when the chips are down. Their next assignment is against Hobart Hurricanes on Tuesday (November 17).