The first round of the Women's National Cricket League and Women's Twenty20 domestic competitions saw the usual suspects come away with comfortable victories, the Lend Lease Breakers, Commonwealth Bank VicSpirit and Konica Minolta Queensland Fire all registering three wins apiece.
The Breakers and VicSpirit were particularly commanding in their victories, losing just eight and four wickets respectively in one WNCL and two WT20 fixtures – their decision to stick with home-grown talent appearing to pay off in the opening round.
Despite the women’s domestic season being just nine matches old, an obvious pattern has already begun to emerge.
Once considered obsolete in the T20 format, the spinners shone brightly in round one, accounting for the majority of wickets taken and making me an extremely happy former spinner.
While the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars top order stood out amongst all others, indicating they are the best in the country.
The story of the weekend however was NSW debutant Lauren Smith. Currently sitting her HSC, Smith made her dream debut for the Breakers in the WNCL as an off-spinner. Have only taken up the skill a few years earlier due to back issues, she couldn't have asked for a better start.
Smith returned the impressive figures of 4-35 off her ten overs and could have taken a five wicket haul, if it wasn't for Healy missing a stumping chance. Catching up with Smith after the match, I don’t think it even registered, with no one able to wipe the smile off her face.
As for the international imports, there were some contributions, but nothing to necessarily phone home about. Given the majority of them flew in a week or so before the first match, I am sure with a little more acclimatising to Australian conditions, we will no doubt see some dominant performances from the internationals.
A quick recap on the weekend matches around the grounds.
Despite two international captains amongst their team and the all-time leading run scorer in women's one-day internationals, the Alcohol.Think Again Western Fury were unable to come away with a win against the Queensland Fire. Their lack of depth, especially in the batting department, was evident once the two stars (Edwards and New Zealand captain Suzie Bates) were dismissed and the remainder of the Fury lineup fell away.
Edwards continued the role she has grown accustomed to with the English side, as she played a lone hand batting through the innings. Though she will need more support in future matches from Bates and youngsters Heather Graham and Chloe Piparo, if the Fury are to win matches.
The three pronged spin attack of Jemma Barsby, Grace Harris and Jessica Jonassen were too much for the Fury, allowing the Fire batters to bat with freedom and ease. Round one proved a relatively easy weekend for the Fire despite Holly Ferling still on the sidelines as she recovers from a stress fracture in her back.
With the VicSpirit batting lineup practically made up of the Southern Stars top order, last year’s runners up made light work of the SA Scorpion. The young Scorpion attack struggled to get into the Victorian middle order and only picked up four wickets across the three matches.
Nicole Bolton's first weekend in navy blue replicated her impressive start in Australian colours, the former Western Fury captain scoring a century on debut, while Meg Lanning continued her form from the Pakistani series, scoring a total of 165 runs at a remarkable 148 strike rate.
I get the feeling the inclusion of Bolton around some of the most attacking batters in the country; Lanning, Villani and Cameron will make the Spirit difficult to beat this season.
In the bowling department spinners were again the destroyers. Fresh from Australian duties Kristen Beams and Molly Strano were the pick of the tweakers with Bolton also adding another string to her bow with her off-spin.
The Breakers dominated against their closest rival, in kilometres, the Tradies ACT Meteors. Batter Kris Britt provided the only resistance, scoring a couple of valuable 70's, predominately through the leg-side, which gave the ACT bowlers something to defend.
For NSW there were a number of key performances. Alyssa Healy had a great weekend behind the stumps and was able to put together a complete game with runs on the board as well.
Healy was on her way to her maiden WNCL hundred before falling an agonising 10 runs short when she smashed a half-track delivery straight to cover.