Women's National Cricket League
Awards season hits the WNCL, WT20
Former Southern Stars captain Lisa Sthalekar weighs in with her own top performers of 2014-15
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.
The Women’s National Cricket League and the Women’s Twenty20 are done and dusted for another season, with both competitions boasting successes on a number of fronts.
This summer saw more international cricketers than ever hit our shores to take on the nation’s best, while the emergence of the Cripps Tasmanian Roar and WNCL finalists the BreezeAir SA Scorpions as genuine contenders produced some of the best cricket in women’s domestic history.
Undoubtedly however, 2014-15 will be remembered as the Lend Lease Breakers’ season.
Not only did New South Wales notch a remarkable 10th consecutive WNCL title, but they recorded the double for just the second time in their, and the competition’s, history with victory over the Commonwealth Bank VicSpirit in the WT20 final only a few days later.
With the season’s individual honours yet to be announced, I thought it would be great to highlight some other unique awards that made this summer’s cricket some of the most compelling.
The Most Improved Player
You would expect that a young player to take out this prize, but I believe Kelly Applebee should win this award.
Applebee has been the key to the Spirit’s success this year, providing strength in the middle order with 248 runs – and, with just the one dismissal to her name, that figure was also her average.
A stalwart of the Victorian lineup for more than a decade, Applebee’s numbers this season outshone her career statistics by a long way, indicating that the best is yet to come.
Kelly Applebee surprised in 2014-15 despite her veteran status // Getty Images
The Emerging Talent
I previously highlighted Molly Strano as having a break-out season, with her affective off-spinner deliveries, but it would appear another young talent has captivated Australian selectors of late, with ACT Tradies Meteors opener Katie Mack selected to tour Sri Lanka with the Commonwealth Bank Shooting Stars in a couple of weeks.
Having missed two matches with a broken finger early, Mack returned to build a great season at the top of the order, scoring 375 runs, including her first domestic hundred.
Mack sets extraordinarily high standards for herself in regards to her fitness and her fielding and it is with that type of attitude that will certinaly make Mack a player to keep a close eye on.
Katie Mack's form on home soil saw her selected for the Shooting Stars // Getty Images
The Human Metronome
Awarded to a bowler possessing the skill and guise necessary to limit the amount of runs conceded off their bowling to a minimum, it’s hard to go past the competition’s most economical bowler, the Konica Queensland Fire’s Jess Jonassen.
Across both competitions Jonassen showed miserly form; conceding just 4.69 runs per over – including an economy of 2.96 in WNCL fixtures.
This is a great result for Jonessen who has been performing well for the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars and is now getting the same results at a domestic level.
Runs were hard to come by when Jess Jonassen was bowling // Getty Images
The Rahul Dravid Award
Awarded to the player with the most solid defense, the most focused concentration and the least willingness to give up their wicket, I’m going to go with the SA Scorpions’ Megan Schutt.
Not know for her batting, Schutt, surprised even herself when she strolled out to the crease with the score on 7-50 against the Fire, the Scorpions requiring a further 40 runs to book a WNCL final berth.
While she was only able to score nine runs, her solid defense for 46 deliveries was a key factor in South Australia’s victory.
Nothing got past Megan Schutt this summer // Getty Images
The Biggest Hitter
Despite not watching every match and being without the technical facilities necessary to track how far every six was hit across both competitions, I can safely say that Meg Lanning’s effort in the WT20 final would be extremely close to the furthest maximum struck.
Lanning made sure the third umpire wasn’t needed as her six sailed past the women’s and men’s ropes and over the fence.
It was measured at 86 metres.
Manuka Oval wasn't big enough for Meg Lanning
The Most-Used Wicket Celebration
It is always interesting to see how bowlers celebrate their wickets.
Having played and now watched a lot of women’s cricket I can safely say the most common is the one hand raised in the air to signal a successful delivery.
Ellyse Perry and Sarah Aley are known to love a trusty arm raise, as is Megan Schutt.
Sarah Aley struck early for the Lend Lease Breakers
Best Crowd Award
Without a shadow of a doubt, the best supporters in the land are in South Australian – for both men’s and women’s matches.
Not only have they broken domestic records at home, but when the WNCL final was played in NSW, there were more red and black supporters than the light blue.
It’s great to see that a state that challenging the best in all facets of the game on the field also bring the enthusiasm and support to the stands.