After 21 games stretching all the way back to October, the 2012-13 Women’s National Cricket League (WNCL) finals have arrived.
There has been a change to the finals structure for the first time since the competitions inception, meaning that more than two teams will feature in this year’s finals campaign.
Previously, the top two teams would play off in a best of three series. However, this year’s structure will feature two semi-finals on Friday January 11, with New South Wales and Western Australia playing in the first semi-final and Queensland taking on Victoria in the second match. These games will be played at Blacktown International Sportspark.
The losers of the semi-finals will then play on Saturday January 12, in a third place play off at Blacktown International Sportspark. The winners of the semi-finals will progress to the final on Sunday January 13 at the SCG.
Below is a summary of the teams taking part in this weekend’s matches.
New South Wales:
The Lend Lease Breakers come into the finals having only lost one 50-over match for the season. Undefeated in their first five matches, New South Wales were given a reality check in their final home-and-away match of the summer against Victoria. The loss ended a 23-match winning streak for the Breakers.
However, the news is not all the bad, with the team finishing on top of the table. They are also the undisputed champions of women’s cricket in this country, having featured in all 16 WNCL finals, winning 14 of them, including the past seven in a row. They also have seven players that will represent Australia in the upcoming ICC Women’s World Cup in India.
The Konica Minolta Queensland Fire will make their first appearance in a finals series since the 2005-06 season. In that appearance, Queensland was defeated by New South Wales in a best-of-three fixture.
The Fire finished the season second on the points table, with five wins and one loss. Their only defeat of the summer was to the Breakers. However, it wasn’t on the field where the team had their issues. Twice this year, the team has been affected by mechanical issues with their planes. However, given that the Fire defeated Perth after their last delayed flight, they will bring confidence into the match against Victoria on Friday after being delayed at the weekend.
The Commonwealth Bank VicSpirit enter the 2012-13 finals series full of confidence. The third placed team on the ladder finished the regular season by ending New South Wales’ 23-match winning streak. In addition to their win, Victoria has their full list available for selection, meaning they will field their strongest team of the season.
Only one chink in the Spirit’s armor will be the fact that their first-up opponent, Queensland, beat the Spirit by 9 wickets in one of their two losses of the season. However, Victoria will be looking at improving on their runner-up position in last year’s competition.
The Western Fury has had a mixed season, winning three of their six matches. Finishing in fourth place, Western Australia face an up-hill battle to secure the title, facing the all-conquering New South Wales in the first semi-final.
The Fury will be at full strength heading into the game and will be hoping that the result won’t be the same as when the faced the Breakers earlier in the year.
This all suggests that the finals series is going to be an incredibly interesting conclusion to the WNCL 2012-13 season.
All games get under-way at 10:00am AEDT and entry is free for all matches.
If you can’t make it to any of the matches, you can find score updates for all the games at http://livescores.cricket.com.au/.
First Posted 10 January, 2013 12:46PM AEST