Mooney will allow Devine to 'take the handbrake off'
Former Australia and Melbourne Stars spinner Kristen Beams reviews the opening weekend of WBBL|06
The opening round of the WBBL reminded me of the start of every cricket season growing up in Tasmania – wet and cold. I doubt anyone played the Rain Card (Google it for those who don't know what that is), but I’m sure there were plenty of card games, coffees and rubbish chat to pass the time.
We had so much to look forward to; the Melbourne and Sydney derbies, players playing against their old teams and our young talent stepping up into the limelight. But we only managed three of the eight games in what was a rain-affected start to a big WBBL|06.
There were a few certainties we could count on; skippers were going to win the toss and bowl, Ellyse Perry would return and not skip a beat, Grace Harris was going to talk her way through game one, Meg Lanning would make runs and Megan Schutt would hoop the ball.
'Shooter' again reminded everyone why she's one of the best bowlers in the world. Yes, it was a great toss to win at Hurstville and the conditions were favourable, but it still takes a world-class bowler to nail those hooping in-swingers and get the Strikers off to the start she did.
It ultimately set the tone for the game and allowed for the perfect introduction of Darcie Brown. She came in and bowled with pace and was rewarded with the wicket of Nic Carey and ended up with figures of 3-13 - she must be thinking this Big Bash cricket isn’t too hard!
The Strikers were too good for the Hurricanes in the end as Laura Wolvaardt played a good hand at the top of the order to help them chase down a small total.
There were, however, some pleasing signs for the Hurricanes with Belinda Vakarewa picking up where she left off last season and the exciting selection of their 15-year-old leg-spinner, Amy Smith.
The game of the weekend was Heat v Scorchers; the Devine-Mooney combination was something we were all looking forward to, Mooney was up against her old side, it was last year’s champions against the favourites – and it didn’t disappoint.
The 55-run opening stand between Devine and Mooney has us all excited about what could be in WBBL|06. Beth Mooney is the ultimate rally car driver; she knows how to go up and down the gears and I personally can’t wait (now that I’m retired) for Sophie Devine to just tee off alongside her. Mooney settles both the dressing room and her batting partner and given she shoulders much of the load of the NZ side as skipper, it’s a great opportunity for Devine to just take the handbrake off. And if she does that, look out!
But the difference in that match was Grace Harris. Her innings had it all; ball-by-ball commentary (by her), some big hits and some really nice stroke play. Harris is one of those players that opposition bowling groups will talk about just staying patient, being disciplined and the chance will come. But from where I was sitting on Sunday - good luck with that. Grace played a really mature innings and if she can replicate that across this tournament, the Heat are going to be hard to beat once again.
One thing I absolutely love about cricket is watching Ellyse Perry play. The rain gods fought it, but we managed to get a shortened game between the Sixers and Strikers, and I got my wish. She looked in good touch and the Sixers continued their winning ways. There is just something about a side that knows how to win. As an opposition team, you never feel on top and you’re always under pressure.
The Strikers were in trouble early and their middle order needed to step up and Bridget Patterson did exactly that with 28 from 14 balls to give the Strikers a good chance. But Alyssa Healy did what she does best and set the tone for the Sixers’ innings; her ability to hit good balls for boundaries is what sets her apart and had us reminiscing about that day at the MCG on International Women’s Day.
I couldn’t possibly sign off without mentioning the Stars. They had two games and both were washed out, but the signs looked good with Meg Lanning making runs in her return and Mignon Du Preez continuing her good form. I’m looking forward to seeing what Katherine Brunt can do in the green; I assume she knows that wearing No.26 for the Stars comes with an automatic expectation of high-quality wicket celebrations – I’ll be watching each one, KB.
My prediction this week – the Renegades spinners to dominate in their games against the Scorchers and the Sixers!