The last series of matches to complete Round 1 of the WNCL and the WT20 was played on the weekend between Commonwealth Bank VicSpirit and the SA Scorpions.
Unlike the other favourites in last week's fixtures, the VicSpirit girls came out firing under the new coaching structure of Barry Neivandt (Head Coach) and Paul Montgomery (Assistant Coach) and showed that they mean business this year after a disappointing third place in both competitions last year.
Whereas the Scorpions, with a relatively young side and also a new coach Andrea McCauley, found the going tough this weekend.
Around the Grounds
VicSpirit 1/160 def SA Scorpions 10/78 (19.1 overs) by 82 runs (WT20)
There was no hesitation in VicSpirit's approach from the moment they won the toss and elected to bat. VicSpirit made 160 with Elyse Villani remaining unbeaten at the end of the 20 overs scoring 76* off 60 balls, with her partner in crime Meg Lanning (65 off 46 balls) the only wicket to fall with the score on 117.
With the Scorpions requiring a record chase they didn't start off well, losing their first wicket with the score on 10. Unfortunately for them, that was the second highest partnership throughout their innings as key wicket-taker, Kath Hempenstall, affectionately known as ‘BigRed’, cleaned up taking 3-13 off her three overs. The Scorpions were bundled out before their final delivery for only 78 runs.
VicSpirit 8/275 def SA Scorpions 10/93 (39.1 overs) by 182 runs - (WNCL)
The longer format of the game didn't bring much refuge for the Scorpions as Villani (133*) and Lanning (49) picked up where they left off the previous day. The only SA player to cause some problems for the VicSpirit batting line-up was WNCL debutant Hannah Perry (4-45). At the end of the VicSpirit innings she would be forgiven for thinking that this level was simple as she picked up 4-45 off five overs to have VicSpirit in a bit of strife at 4-109 in the 25th over.
The saving grace was Villani, who batted through the whole innings to post her highest score, an impressive 133 runs not out off 132 balls, finding the boundary 14 times with one six. She was well supported by Briana Binch (21 runs) and Emily McIntyre (24 runs) towards the end of the innings.
Unfortunately for the Scorpions, the switch to the longer format didn't change their fortunes with the bat as they again struggled to build partnerships throughout their innings. The only batter to show some fight was English import Beth Morgan who managed to score 24 runs, but the key destroyers for the VicSpirit bowling attack for this game were the spinners. Super Mum, Sarah Elliott managed to pick up 3 wicket for a measly four runs off her four overs and Kristen Beams bowling her big turning leg spinners, also picked up 3-24 off her eight overs.
VicSpirit 1/121 (15.3 overs) def SA Scorpions 5/119 by 9 wickets - (WT20)
The final match of the weekend seemed to provide a possible change in fortune for the Scorpions as they won the toss and elected to bat first. Though when Hempenstall picked up the first wicket with the score on four, there would have been some thoughts of ‘here we go again’.
Morgan (48 off 40) again stood up, but was the only player to trouble the VicSpirit bowling attack. A positive for the Scorpions is that they were able to have some small partnerships which ensured they did not get bowled out for the innings.
However, they only managed to put 119 runs on the board and this was never going to be enough against the strong VicSpirit batting line-up.
Villani (56 off 41), in seemingly vintage form, and the ever classy Lanning (46* off 39) took apart an inexperienced Scorpion side, seeing the VicSpirit chase down the total of 120 with 27 balls left in the innings.
Player of the Round
You may recall that last weekend it was difficult to settle on a player of the round. Well for this round of matches, there is no doubt that the player of the round was easily Villani.
While she spent the majority of the recent Women’s Ashes Series on the bench watching a lot of cricket, she certainly looked like she revelled in the opportunity to actually swing the willow herself this round, by scoring an amazing 265 runs at an average most cricketers would love..... 265.
It was great to see Villani back doing what she does best, scoring a truck load of runs.
Rookie of the Round
Although in the WT20 matches she didn't perform as well as she would have liked, my rookie of the round was Hannah Perry.
Perry made her WNCL debut having moved over to Adelaide from the Central Coast of NSW after playing her grade cricket with the mighty Gordon Women's Cricket Club (the greatest club ever, not that I’m biased!) and the junior NSW teams.
The left-arm orthodox spinner tossed the ball up effectively in the WNCL match to pick up 4-45 off her 10 overs.
Strongest Contender so far
With the VicSpirit playing an underdone SA Scorpions it was a one-sided affair with the experienced batting line-up of the VicSpirit simply too dominant and classy for the Scorpions.
It was a great way for the VicSpirit to start both the WNCL and WT20 tournaments, but they will find stronger opposition against the Tradies ACT Meteors next round, which will prove a stronger indicator of whether the VicSpirit will be one of the contenders for this season.
Bye the Way
With Hannah Perry making her WNCL and WT20 debut, now all states and territories competing in the WNCL and WT20 tournaments have a player within their team or squad who first represented NSW at a junior level, making up 24 players in total, across the other six teams, who originated in NSW.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia.