Frustration, elation as WBBL finalists fly to Perth

There were mixed emotions across the country as the final match of the WBBL|09 regular season determined the next moves of three of the four finalists

As Ellyse Perry steered Sydney Sixers to victory over the Thunder at the SCG on Sunday, she had an unlikely group of supporters in Adelaide loudly cheering her on.

The Perth Scorchers squad had remained in the South Australian capital following their last WBBL|09 regular season game on Friday while they awaited their finals fate – and Perry’s heroics ensured they remained second on the ladder.

That meant hopping on a flight home, rather than to Sydney, and being given the benefit of an extra day’s break and one fewer hurdle to overcome to book a spot against the Strikers in next Saturday’s final.

The Scorchers will host the Challenger final on Wednesday at the WACA Ground, where they will meet the winner of Tuesday’s Eliminator between the third-ranked Heat and fourth-ranked Thunder.

The Heat were already out of the running to host a final and on Sunday were in Brisbane waiting to find out whether they would be boarding a flight to Perth or Sydney that evening.

For them, the longer journey west was ultimately preferred to the dismal forecast for the NSW capital on both Tuesday and Wednesday, where a predicted 60mm could fall across the two days.

But there was only frustration for the Thunder, who were soundly beaten by their local rivals to the tune of nine wickets.

Instead of enjoying three days off at home, they instead headed straight from the SCG to Sydney Airport to board a flight to Perth.

"Obviously frustrating, there was that real carrot of staying in Sydney and having a home semi-final and sneaking into that second spot," Thunder captain Heather Knight said.

"But I just said to the girls then, if you'd said at the start of the year that we were going to make finals after we only won three games in the last two years, we would have taken it.

"We're going to have to do things the hard way now, with a flight over there and we're going to have to win three games to try and win it."

Last season, the Strikers won their first WBBL title after a one-day break between games – and with a 6am flight from Adelaide to Sydney thrown into the mix.

Having finished second on the table, they hosted a Thursday night Challenger final at Karen Rolton Oval, then had barely a few hours sleep before they were on their way to Sydney ahead of a Saturday evening final against the Sixers.

This time, they have a week off after finishing six points clear on top of the ladder, winning 11 out of 14 matches.

"No 6am flights, I'm quite excited to be going home and staying put at home for a while," Strikers captain Tahlia McGrath said on Sunday.

"That's the benefit of finishing top and we're pretty happy about it.

"We move forward now with a lot of momentum, a lot of confidence and we're so excited for Saturday night.

"We'll have a couple of days off, we've had a hectic travel schedule ...then we'll have a main training on Wednesday, a proper hit out, and then from there Thursday, Friday is about getting what individuals need so that we're ready to go Saturday night.

"This is our fourth final in five years and we've been able to keep a core group together for a long time now.

"When we lifted that trophy last year, it was almost a sense around the group of 'we're not done, we want to go again'. And that's been driving us this whole season."

WBBL|09 Finals

The Eliminator: Brisbane Heat v Sydney Thunder | WACA Ground | November 28, 7.40pm AEDT (4.40pm local)

The Challenger: Perth Scorchers v TBC | WACA Ground | November 29, 7.40pm AEDT (4.40pm local)

The Final: Adelaide Strikers v TBC | Adelaide Oval | December 2 at 7.10pm AEDT/6.40pm ACDT

Grab your tickets or tune in on the Seven Network, Fox Cricket, Kayo or ABC radio