WNCL 2017-18

Five Ashes take outs from WNCL round one

Ashes spots were on the line during an action-packed opening round of the Women’s National Cricket League at the weekend

Laura Jolly

09 October 2017, 08:01 PM

The batters are in form

Every member of Australia’s likely top six, bar Ellyse Perry, scored at least one half-century over the weekend. Stand-in skipper Rachael Haynes led the way, blasting an unbeaten 103 from 99 deliveries for New South Wales against Queensland, before following up with 83 off 79 against Victoria on Sunday. Western Australia’s Nicole Bolton was also in excellent form, posting 125 against South Australia and almost repeating the dose the following day against Tasmania when she scored 93 not out. Her Fury skipper Elyse Villani also produced some fireworks against the Scorpions with an outstanding 139 from 103, but couldn’t match it against the Roar when she was dismissed for 10.  Alex Blackwell (6) and Alyssa Healy (5) both missed out in the Breakers’ season opener, but the pair made up for it on Sunday against the Spirit – Healy impressing at the top of the order with a 66-ball 68, while Blackwell scored 77 from 73. The only Australia batter to miss out in both matches was Perry, who fell for 17 against the Fire before making a start against the Spirit, only to be dismissed for 30. 

Responsibility suits Rachael Haynes

NSW opener Rachael Haynes was unveiled as Australia’s acting captain last month, filling in for the injured Meg Lanning. She averaged 30.28 last WNCL season but was outstanding in both of Breakers matches at the weekend, scoring a speedy century against Queensland before falling just 17 runs shy of a second ton two days later. Haynes knows the eyes of the nation will be on her when she steps into the giant shoes of world No.1 batter Lanning against England and while it’s early doors, it currently looks like she may be ready to thrive under the pressure. 

Haynes begins season with unbeaten ton

Spin is still the winner 

It was a weekend dominated by the batters, but there were some promising signs for the spinners in Australia’s Ashes training squad. Victoria spin twins Kristen Beams and Molly Strano led the way, with the former taking 5-52 against the Breakers on Sunday, while off-spinner Strano collected 3-39 in both matches. Off-spinner Ashleigh Gardner and left-armer Jess Jonassen both went wicketless in their season openers, but rebounded the second time around – Gardner producing a miserly 10 overs against Tasmania for figures of 1-24, while Jonassen picked up 2-38 against the ACT. Given Australia’s success with a spin-heavy attack in recent times, it seems likely selectors will stick with a similar formula and there should be plenty of opportunities for the slow bowlers against England. Meanwhile in pleasing signs for the seamers, Megan Schutt bowled an economical seven overs against Tasmania on Sunday, taking 1-17, while Perry took 3-37 and 1-23 in her two outings for NSW. 

WNCL Highlights: Queensland v New South Wales

Amanda-Jade Wellington can bat

For those who’ve come up against the leg-spinner - who has generally batted at No.10 or 11 for Australia – in grade cricket, this will come as no surprise with Wellington known for being dangerous with the bat for club side Port Adelaide. But while Wellington generally looks at ease with bat in hand and has shown she’s unafraid to take on the bowlers, she had yet to prove her capabilities at state or international level. Until Friday, that is. Wellington came out at No.5 for South Australia – interestingly, ahead of Australia allrounder Ashleigh Gardner – in their season opener against WA and put on a brilliant display, scoring 116 from 125 deliveries and keeping the South Australians in the chase until she fell in the 48th over. 

Wellington bats for South Australia on Friday // Getty
Wellington bats for South Australia on Friday // Getty

There could be a surprise in the Ashes squad

A squad of 16 players spent a week in Brisbane on a pre-Ashes training camp midway through September and it does seem likely Australia’s ODI, Test and T20 squads will be drawn from that group of players. But several names from outside that group impressed at the weekend, including veteran seamer Rene Farrell and young WA quick Piepa Cleary. Farrell was tidy for NSW against both Queensland and Victoria, with figures of 2-32 and 2-38 respectively. The 30-year-old announced her retirement from ODI cricket in April and won’t be considered for that squad, but she said at the time she was still available for Test or T20 selection and her experience at international level could see her sneak back into calculations. Another who started the season well is 21-year-old right-arm quick Cleary, who snared 4-57 for WA against South Australia. Cleary is part of Australia’s National Performance Squad, who trained alongside the Australians at that pre-Ashes camp last month. There, she impressed with her extra bounce and movement off the pitch, even troubling some of the Australian players. Given highly regarded young quick Lauren Cheatle only played her first match since shoulder surgery on Sunday, with figures of 0-31 from seven overs – and didn’t play at all in the opening match on Friday – it seems unlikely she’ll be ready for an international comeback for the ODI or Test portions of the series. So the door may be open the door for a surprise selection.

Aussie Stars play Ashes Cricket video game

Commonwealth Bank Women's Ashes


First ODI Allan Border Field, October 22

Brisbane Charity Partner: Lord Mayor's Charitable Trust

Second ODI Coffs International Stadium, October 26

Third ODI Coffs International Stadium, October 29

Coffs Junior Cricket Association Partners: Coffs Harbour District JCA, Nambucca Bellingen JCA, and Clarence River JCA

Day-Night Test North Sydney Oval, November 9-12

First T20 North Sydney Oval, November 17

North Sydney Charity Partner: McGrath Foundation

Second T20 Manuka Oval, November 19

Third T20 Manuka Oval, November 21

Canberra Charity Partner: Lord's Taverners ACT