The battle of the bottom of this year’s Rebel Women’s Big Bash League saw the Sydney Sixers post their highest score in the tournament to date as they swept aside the Melbourne Renegades in their own backyard. An opening stand of 130 between Southern Stars duo Ellyse Perry and Alyssa Healy set the tone for a final total of 164, too much for the Renegades, whose spirited chase ended 25 runs short.
The wicket was a good batting deck – of that there was no doubt; 297 runs had already been scored at the Junction Oval in the day’s earlier fixture between the Melbourne Stars and Adelaide Strikers. Still, runs needed to physically be made and with both the Renegades and Sixers having struggled in the batting department of late, anything was possible.
Quick Single: Lanning, Du Preez lift Stars to WBBL win
When the Sixers won the toss, they had no choice but to opt to bat. Of the seven tosses that Perry has won to date the Sixers have batted first on six of those occasions. The one time that the Sixers didn’t bat first, they won, defeating the Perth Scorchers who suffered a batting collapse of their own.
The Sydney side needn’t have worried however, as both Perry and her opening partner Alyssa Healy went about their business in a manner they doubtless wished they had done from the tournament’s start.
“We played some really good cricket in that last round that we played before Christmas,” said Healy. “We then had a nice break, so the girls got to recoup and go again.
“We knew that the wicket played pretty well this morning so it was a good toss to win and get out there and bat and get runs on the board, and obviously put pressure on them with a dying wicket in the later stage of today. So yes, a pretty good toss to win – thanks Pez.”
The pair ran well and Healy soon took control, racing to her 50 off 35 balls with Perry still on 36. Once she’d passed that landmark, the acceleration climber further still, Healy’s next 31 runs coming off just 19 balls.
Healy, for such a diminutive figure, hits the ball very, very hard. Her innings contained 11 boundaries including one huge six over deep square leg as she offered lessons in clean striking, hard-running and the art of being ‘busy’ at the crease.
For Healy, her maiden WBBL 50 was a timely score; her rival for the Southern Stars gloves is the Brisbane Heat’s Beth Mooney, who has had a prolific tournament. Mooney lies second only to Meg Lanning in the WBBL runs ladder and has looked menacing opening the batting with the equally explosive Grace Harris.
“She [Mooney] has been going really well,” said Healy. “It’s great to see. It’s nice to have some competition – I’m never going to turn that down. It’s great she’s been keeping well as well.
“But for me I’m just enjoying being out there and leave selection to the selectors. Fingers crossed I’ll be on the next tour but you never know!”
The fielding from the Renegades meanwhile was ordinary – both Healy and Perry, although athletes in their own right and quick between the wickets, found it far too easy turning singles into twos; at no point in the first ten overs did they look under pressure. Healy too was dropped on the mid-wicket boundary for 64 in what looked to be a regulation piece of fielding.
The Sixers too were guilty of letting chances go, putting down three in their own fielding efforts, but while the Renegades lost wickets regularly regardless, the Sixers did not. The partnership between Healy and Perry without doubt was the difference between the two.
Molly Strano showed that last week’s 5 wicket haul wasn’t an anomaly in leading the Renegades bowling attack well, picking up figures of 2-28 off her four overs on a wicket that wasn’t conducive to spin. The Renegades young left-arm orthodox spinner, Sophie Molineux, picked up another flurry of wickets too, including a neat caught and bowled for the key wicket of Healy on her way to 3-31.
However it was too little too late for the Renegades, the final Sixers score proving just too towering for them to chase. ACT Meteors captain Kris Britt delivered her highest score of the tournament with 36 off 31 and while English import Danni Wyatt was still at the crease, anything seemed possible.
When Wyatt was run-out for 26 in the 16th over however, the game looked up, and so it proved. Handy contributions all round from various Renegades batters but nothing substantial enough to guide them home. The Sixers’ Sarah Aley was the pick of the Sydney bowlers, demonstrating clinical efficiency to clean up the Renegades lower order, eventually finishing with figures of 3-17.
Both the Renegades and Sixers now have two wins on the board; finals realistically look out of reach for both teams, but Healy hasn’t given up hope.
“We know that finals is still possible,” said Healy. “Everyone’s beating everyone in the competition so it’s still wide open and if we can still keep winning and keep this momentum going I think we’ll just give ourselves a chance to make finals, and if we do then it’s a sweetener.”
You heard it here first, ladies and gentlemen - the Sixers’ bid for the inaugural WBBL title is still alive. Just.