It’s the final weekend of the fifth season of the Women’s Big Bash League - an edition that saw some thrillers, lots of drama, high scorers, huge crowd support and some monstrous hitting. 44 days after the first game was played four teams - Brisbane Heat, Adelaide Strikers, Perth Scorchers and Melbourne Renegades - locked their place in the knockout stage of the tournament. With the winner set to be decided on Sunday (December 8), we are in for a cracker of a weekend.
Women's CricZone lists out several points of interest ahead of the final weekend.
Perry’s 777 in danger:
When Ellyse Perry amassed 777 runs last season, one would have thought the record would stand for a long while. However, at the pointy end of WBBL05, not one, but two players have their eyes set on that record. Sophie Devine of Strikers and Beth Mooney of Heat have both been in scintillating form and are sitting pretty on 699 and 672 runs, respectively. With potentially two games to go, the pair have an equal chance of raising the bar even further. At the end of the tournament, chances are we will have a new record-breaker in town.
Heat on Barsby:
Jemma Barsby was the one who piloted Heat to their first-ever WBBL trophy last year with her superb display of bowling. She picked up three wickets in the semi-final against Sydney Thunder helping her team progress through to the finals. Although she finds herself in the knockout stages again, Barsby is, this time, wearing Scorchers' orange. If Scorchers get past Strikers and Heat beat Renegades, Barsby has a chance of coming up against her former team in the final. Will she prove to be the lucky charm for Scorchers this time?
Void left by England stars:
Amy Jones, Natalie Sciver (both top performers for Scorchers), Danielle Wyatt, Tammy Beaumont (both important parts of Renegades' top order) and Lauren Winfield (an influential member of Adelaide Strikers) will miss out on the final weekend of the action. Having been recalled by the England and Wales Cricket Board to join the national squad in Malaysia for their limited overs series against Pakistan, the quartet leave their teams much lighter. Of the four semi-finalists, Heat is the only squad not to be affected by these sudden exits. It remains to be seen how much their absence impacts each team's performances.
One, two or three?
1: Renegades and Strikers have the chance of reaching their first ever WBBL final. If both get past their respective semi-final opponents, we will see first time finalists also become first-time champions.
2: Only Ellyse Perry's Sydney Sixers hold the honor of having won two consecutive titles - something Heat have the chance to emulate. They certainly know a thing or two about keeping a cool head in the finals and will make sure to bring those attributes this year as well. With Mooney and Jess Jonassen in the form of their lives, it is not improbable to think of the defending champions keeping their crown.
3: On two occasions - in 2016 and 2017 - Scorchers came up against the unstoppable force of Sixers in the final. This time, with their old nemesis out of the race, can they finally break the jinx?
Meg Lanning vs Megan Schutt:
While most bowlers may run away at the sight of Meg Lanning, Megan Schutt - as Jess Jonassen says - is "one of a kind". The right-arm seamer recently admitted that she enjoyed bowling to the Australian skipper. "I go against her favorite shot," she said, "so I guess that’s a benefit for me.”
The last time Strikers and Scorchers met, Schutt had the wood over Lanning, tying her up by forcing her to hit straight, before Devine rearranged her stumps. However, with a maiden title in her sights, the right-hander is sure to have come up with a plan to counter her teammate. This battle promises to be an exciting one as Scorchers will rely heavily on their skipper's contributions.
Jess Duffin vs Amelia Kerr:
Duffin loves to use her feet to the spinners and likes to take them on early. She has scored over 500 runs in the tournament so far and has been at her very best against the slower bowlers, smashing 23 fours and three sixes off them this season. However, the Renegades skipper will be wary of Amelia Kerr, the leg-spinner from Heat.
The Kiwi has so far picked up 12 wickets and has been one of Heat's best bowlers in the tournament. Her tournament economy rate of 6.17 indicates just how miserly she has been through the tournament. She will no doubt play a key role in curtailing - and possibly dislodging - Duffin early in her innings.