Harris turns up the Heat with blazing ton
Grace Harris dominated with a ton and four wickets as the Heat claimed their first WBBL points
Isabelle Westbury at Aquinas College
12 December 2015, 09:00 PM AEST
Grace Harris. Remember the name.
In a tournament packed with international superstars, the young Australian shot to the top of the runs tally after a blistering century against the Sydney Sixers in Perth.
Harris’ ton – the first of the tournament - was the driving force behind the Brisbane Heats’ first innings total of 190, the highest of the Rebel Women’s Big Bash League to date. It was a target that proved too large for the Sixers, who could only manage to 155 in reply.
— KFC Big Bash League (@BBL) December 12, 2015
It’s not just the weight of Harris’ runs that’s turning heads though – it’s how Harris gets them. Her century came off a mere 52 balls and her tournament strike rate, after four matches, is a dazzling 192. Not many women – or men – can boast a statistic anywhere close.
This was a game in which it was all to play for - both teams entered the match yet to register a win – but Harris, alongside her opening partner Beth Mooney, ensured that it was the Heat who took the honours. The pair put on a formidable opening partnership which saw them reach 156 before Mooney eventually fell for 57 in the 16th over.
Watch: Highlights of the Heat's sizzling win
"I actually struggled to begin with," said Harris at the end of play.
"Mooney was moosing them so I said to her I was just going to get her on strike because she started very well. We seemed to play a different game for the first three overs – she was scoring big and I was just rotating the strike, and then I got to one and felt really good out of the middle, so just played on from there.
"All we said in the middle was see the ball and hit the ball. I may have spoken about food a few times. I think Mooney was talking about smoking it over cover and I just said, 'You just pick the ball and you go for it!' Because that’s her zone.
"We just tried to stay as positive as we could, instead of our performance yesterday (a loss to the Perth Scorchers), which wasn’t great."
— KFC Big Bash League (@BBL) December 12, 2015
Big hitting – five sixes and 20 fours between the two openers – combined with smart running, soft hands and deft nibbles to rotate the strike left the Sixers searching for answers. Nothing seemed to work. Put a fielder on the boundary at long-on? Grace Harris will hit a six over the top of her.
Just as Adam Gilcrhist’s Legends XI decided the only way to combat the Scorchers’ onslaught in yesterday’s exhibition game was to pop a fielder in the stands, the Sixers may have fared better doing the same.
"Come on Sixers, let’s stay in this!" came the cry from their keeper, Sara Hungerford, deep into the Heat’s batting innings. Futile. Spare a thought for the umpires too, whose constant boundary signalling may leave an ache or two in the morning. The onslaught was relentless.
A frustrated throw back at the striker’s end by the Sixers’ captain Ellyse Perry, in a half-hearted run-out attempt off the final ball of the innings, summed it up neatly. After a performance just a few hours before that had seen the Sixers at one point collapse to 8-35, this was a team staring down the barrel of defeat – and the game was only at its half-way mark.
Watch: Harris scores a blistering ton
The Sixers had a good go at things - they were 1-42 in the seventh over and chasing hard - but the match always seemed out of their grasp. Internationals Laura Marsh, Marizanne Kapp and Ellyse Perry all showed glimpses of what they are capable of with the bat, but none managed to push on after promising starts.
Only New Zealand international Sara McGlashan made the match look at least marginally competitive, knocking 61 off 29 balls, including four sixes. However when McGlashan departed, bowled by the off-spin of Grace Harris (who else?), the game was all but up.
Harris, incidentally, also picked up a four-for in the bowling department, which included a neat 'caught Harris, bowled Harris' in combination with her sister, Laura, which accounted for the wicket of Sarah Aley.
While it will be a relief for the Heat’s captain Delissa Kimmince and her team to finally get some points on the board, it’s going to be interesting seeing how the Sixers react to their winless start.
— Jessica Jonassen (@JJonassen21) December 12, 2015
Many of their players come from the New South Wales Lendlease Breakers, a team that has dominated domestic women’s cricket for the last decade. They simply don’t lose.
With a new tournament, new players and new stars in the making, the cricketing horizon has changed. If it’s a horizon featuring Grace Harris though, then what’s not to like?