Beams selects her standout allrounders of WBBL|06
Former Australia leg-spinner Kristen Beams analyses the impact of allrounders and team tactics in this year’s tournament
What a weekend we have ahead! The Melbourne Stars are the only team guaranteed to play finals, which will be the first time in the franchise’s history.
That leaves five teams – the Brisbane Heat, Sydney Thunder, Perth Scorchers, Sydney Sixers and Adelaide Strikers – to fight it out for the three remaining spots in the Rebel WBBL|06 finals series.
Predicting the top four ... good luck with that! In recent weeks we have seen some upsets, teams finding form at the right time, injuries and teams still hunting a complete performance.
The magic of the WBBL is how each team tackles the tournament. This includes their preparation, their game plan and, most importantly, their list.
One of the keys to success is quality allrounders, but what differs from team to team is the impact of these players.
I’d like to highlight some of these players and teams and how their contribution has set their team up.
There is no better place to start than the Sydney Sixers, who have the Rolls-Royce of allrounders in Ellyse Perry. When your five marquee players are allrounders – and yes, I consider Alyssa Healy’s skillsets to be just as important as the batter/bowler combination – you allow so much freedom in your list.
On any given day you have Perry, Ash Gardener, Marizanne Kapp, Dane van Niekerk and Healy who are all experienced international cricketers and who could dominate in either skillset to swing a game. And let’s not forget that Erin Burns is also an Australian player and showed her value on Wednesday night by holding her nerve with the ball to get the Sixers over the line to snap a losing streak and to win the derby against the Thunder.
It's easy to say the impact is wickets, runs, catches and stumpings. But for me it is so much more. They have the ability to bring in young players and provide them with valuable experience whilst being supported by having senior players around them. This means they can play smaller roles initially and progress to being key contributors as their skillsets develop.
What this does is allow for long-term success as they can nurture their young talent, and good examples of this are Stella Campbell and Hayley Silver-Holmes.
The most unique strategy that the Sixers have implemented that I love is the specialist fielder. Inevitably every team will be picking a fielder, it is usually the bowler who ‘fields the best’, but the Sixers have picked an out-and-out specialist in Jodie Hicks.
If you did the stats, I’d guess she is contributing anywhere between 10 and 20 runs before she's even faced a ball simply by the amount of runs she's saved. If you have the list to be able to use this strategy, it is gold!
The Melbourne Stars recruited well for WBBL|06 with the inclusions of Nat Sciver and Katherine Brunt being a key component to their success. With both players bowling in the Powerplay and batting in the top six allowing new-found freedom they have not had in the past.
But their young allrounders are the most exciting, and developing them alongside incredible role models in that English duo will allow the Stars a lot of flexibility in their line-up.
A good example of this is Annabel Sutherland. When she joined the Stars she was more of a bowling allrounder and had instant impact in this discipline. Her game has gone from strength to strength which has resulted with her moving up the batting order this season, from No.6 to No.3. This was a great move and her 72 from 51 balls was a match-winning performance against the Hurricanes.
Young allrounders also provide the list managers to look at specialist skillsets they need in the future, whether that be spinners or specialist batters therefore laying a foundation for ongoing success. Sometimes the allrounder role isn’t simply the icing on the cake but provides a safety net against injuries or seasons that don’t go to plan. The Hurricanes and Strikers are good examples of this.
The Adelaide Strikers losing skipper Suzie Bates was a massive blow, but I have been incredibly impressed with how their allrounders have stood up to fill the void, giving them every chance to make the finals.
Amanda Jade Wellington has enjoyed more of a batting role this season and her ability to hit to ‘different’ areas makes her hard to bowl to. Coupled with a good strike rate she is able to be a genuine allrounder with her leg-breaks being critical to breaking the game open for the Strikers.
Madeline Penna is another player who may not have had a significant impact if Bates was in the side but has had some good performances in the middle to lower order, including her maiden fifty. We haven’t seen much of her with the ball so far, but that is a value-add for an allrounder that can impact with both bat and ball, but doesn't always need to! And Sarah Coyte is the complete package with bat, ball and in the field and has been key in all three this season. Experience is something you cannot buy off the shelf.
The Hobart Hurricanes came into the tournament without Tayla Vlaeminck and Maisy Gibson who, along with Belinda Vakarewa, are their three key bowlers, whether it be taking wickets or tying batters down. Last-minute replacements are hard to find, especially ones who can perform those roles, but they have made it work by getting more overs out of Chloe Tryon who hadn’t bowled a lot for South Africa and the introduction of 16-year-old Amy Smith.
Although Smith starts her professional career as a bowling allrounder, I believe she will progress to become a genuine allrounder in the future. For the Hurricanes it’s all about backing your people and playing Smith will be key to their WBBL|07 campaign. And Tryon has a lot to offer as a left arm orthodox (a discipline that is gold in T20 cricket) which means it could be a case of 'look out, world cricket' as she is already devastating with the bat.
The success of the allrounders will decide the fate of some teams this weekend, whether that be upsets or a place in the finals. I’m predicting we see the double from a player this weekend, with 50 runs and 5 wickets in a single game. (This is a brave call given nobody has taken five wickets in a game yet this season). But after seeing Laura Kimmince reverse ramp for six this week, I believe anything is possible.