Jess Duffin’s spectacular debut for her new team Melbourne Renegades ended with player-of-the-match honours and a controversial dismissal at North Sydney Oval.
The former Melbourne Star powered to 81 off just 47 balls as the Renegades looked to chase down Sydney Thunder’s impressive total of 200 in the Rebel WBBL|03 season opener.
The team in red made the chase look easy early, with Sophie Molineux (25 runs off 14 balls) the first wicket to fall when the Renegades had 30 runs on the board.
Duffin and fellow Renegades debutant Chamari Atapattu (42 off 30) then took the Thunder bowlers to the sword, putting on 87 runs off just 58 balls to keep the Renegades well in the hunt.
But it was a controversial catch that spelled the end of an entertaining innings from the Victorian, who smashed 12 fours and one six at a picture-perfect North Sydney Oval.
Duffin attempted to reverse sweep a Samantha Bates delivery early in the 18th over, with the Renegades three wickets down and needing 27 runs for victory. She top-edged the ball to third man, where Thunder first-gamer Lisa Griffith dived forward and appeared to catch the ball in her fingertips.
Replays showed that although Griffith had a finger underneath, the majority of the ball appeared to hit the turf.
But when the third umpire’s ‘out’ verdict flashed up on the scoreboard, even Griffith cut a bemused figure.
The vital wicket completely stymied the Renegades’ momentum, which had more easily absorbed the dismissals of Atapattu and Emma Inglis (20 off 12).
“They sent it upstairs for a reason, and I’ll leave it at that,” Cameron said after the 11-run loss.
“I saw the replay on screen and that’s about it, that’s why I stayed out there.
“I thought it was up in the air, I guess that’s why they did send it upstairs, but that’s all a part of cricket, isn’t it?”
Duffin said with another 13 games to go in the regular season, she and the Renegades would move on “pretty quick” and shift their focus to their next game, which is against the Strikers at Gliderol Stadium on December 16.
For the 28-year-old, the first game in her new colours was a success on more than one front, appearing unhampered by the shoulder injury that at times restricted her last season.
She had the troublesome joint operated on in the off-season, and the benefits were clear to see in her first hit-out for the Renegades.
“I had surgery on it earlier in this year and I’m feeling pretty confident in it, so if I need to throw, I can throw – I’m just choosing not to at the moment,” Duffin said with a laugh.
“Obviously I’m feeling pretty good at the moment. It’s only one game, so I’ve got to make sure that I do it for the rest of the tournament.
“But I think having Coyley (coach Tim Coyle) and changing over to the Renegades, I just feel like there’s a little bit more of a relaxed vibe and the girls in the group, it just makes it so much easier.”