Women's National Cricket League
Experience the difference for NSW
The Women's National Cricket League final was played in the blistering heat at the Blacktown International Sports Park last Sunday
Lisa Sthalekar is an Australian cricket legend who was the first player to score 1,000 runs and take 100 wickets in ODIs in her glittering Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars career. This summer, she is staging a comeback for the Sydney Sixers in the Women's Big Bash League.
It was not the final many had expected: instead of the top two teams on the ladder meeting in the final, it was fourth-placed Lend Lease Breakers taking on third-placed BreezeAir SA Scorpions, after both teams accounted for higher-placed opposition two days prior in the semi-finals.
Arriving in Blacktown to cover the final with Mel Jones for cricket.com.au on Sunday morning, it felt like a meeting of David and Goliath.
The Breakers had played in every final since the inception of the WNCL in 1996-97 and were gunning for a record breaking ten consecutive titles.
Standing in their way were the Scorpions, who bounded into the final with plenty of momentum on their side. Momentum can be a key ingredient when it comes to combating a more experienced team and the Scorpions certainly had that.
The Scorpions won the toss and elected to bowl, but there was a sense among those watching the decision could be costly in the context of the game. The Blacktown wicket was the same used in the semi-final between NSW and the Commonwealth Bank VicSpirit where it had proved low, slow and difficult to score runs.
Additionally, by allowing the experienced Breakers side to bat first in the best conditions was always a risk. The old rule of "runs on the board, especially in a final" certainly has a lot of truth to it.
The Scorpions’ strength was in their bowling attack and if they were going to post a major upset, they needed to pick up early wickets. However, the Breakers had different intentions and they stamped their authority within the first five overs by smashing loose deliveries over the boundary.
Important partnerships were built with the Breakers posting the second highest WNCL final score in history, an intimidating 279 runs.
The Breakers’ dominance then carried on in the field as the Scorpions lost regular wickets. They just never looked in the hunt. Victory was eminent, though NSW had to wait until the 45th over to celebrate their win.
Despite the disappointing final result, a massive congratulations must be extended to the SA Scorpions who proved that if you can get the right environment, investment, support and personnel around the group, positive performances will follow.
After completing my neutral duties in the commentary box – I certainly tried to be subjective – I headed to the NSW change rooms where a number of past players, family, friends and administrators from Cricket NSW had joined the team.
It was a nice gesture, allowing the past players to join the team cuddle. I got a sense the current players were not only acknowledging those who had also contributed to the ten titles, but more importantly, the sacrifices the players made before integration with the state association.
I must confess that it is times like these that I miss being involved in a competitive team. But I loved the chance to singing the Breakers song loud and proud.
While celebrating the win, the Breakers would also have been focused on today’s WT20 final against VicSpirit. They’re attempting to complete the WNCL and WT20 title double for only the second time since the inception of the WT20, after being the first to achieve the feat in 2012-2013.
If the Breakers are going to win, they are going to have bring their ‘A game’ against Victoria.
The Spirit would have been bitterly disappointed after losing to NSW in the WNCL semi-final and have had a few more days at home to focus on what they need to do to reverse the result.
The final is expected to be a wonderful showpiece of the women's game with a number of current and past Southern Stars playing in both the sides.
It is hard to split the teams. VicSpirit have one of the strongest batting line-ups, but so do the Breakers.
In the bowling department, the Breakers have the greater depth with a number of Southern Stars, but if VicSpirit can score more than 160 runs they will be hard to beat despite less experience with the ball.
Make sure that you tune into the final on ONE HD from 2pm to follow the action – it is going to be a close one!