Renegades peaking at the perfect time: Coyle
A captain in the scintillating form and a well-rounded team could negate the loss of two overseas stars as the Renegades look to upset the Heat
1 December 2019, 09:46 PM AEST
Melbourne Renegades coach Tim Coyle believes his well-rounded squad is peaking at the right time, as they look to make their first Rebel WBBL final.
The Renegades finished fourth on the table after winning three consecutive matches to end the home-and-away season but must play defending champions Brisbane Heat in the semi-finals on Saturday at Allan Border Field.
WBBL Finals: Allan Border Field
First semi-final: Strikers v Scorchers, Saturday 10.10am (11.10am AEDT)
Second semi-final: Heat v Renegades, Saturday 1.50pm (2.50pm AEDT)
Final: SF1 v SF2, Sunday 1.40pm (2.40pm AEDT)
Raising their confidence is the fact they defeated the Heat at that same ground just last Wednesday, but this time they will be without the hero of that run chase, English star Danni Wyatt.
Wyatt and compatriot Tammy Beaumont have left Australia for England’s tour of Malaysia against Pakistan – and with league rules only allowing for one of them to be replaced, the club has called in Sri Lanka captain Chamari Athapaththu for their finals campaign.
In good news for the Renegades, they have a captain in the form of her life in Jess Duffin, while off-spinner Molly Strano sits equal top in the wicket-taking charts, closely followed by pace bowler Maitlan Brown, while New Zealand speedster Lea Tahuhu has posed problems in the power play all season.
"We have a lot of players who would be hard to replace," Coyle said after his team sealed their top-four berth with victory over the Thunder on Sunday.
"If we lost Lea Tahuhu, if we lost Molly Strano (it would be hard).
"That’s the message the group have been getting all year, we’ve got to be ready to stand up and we can’t rely on (just a few players).
"We’ve gathered some momentum at the right time, that’s the key in this tournament.
"There’s 14 games in a short period of time and you want to be playing your best cricket at this stage.
"We’ve won three games on end and now we’re playing better cricket than we were at the start."
Leading the charge for the Renegades this season has been new captain Duffin.
The former Australia batter somewhat reluctantly accepted the added responsibility after New Zealand import Amy Satterthwaite announced she would miss the season while pregnant with her first child, but it appears to agree with the multi-sport star.
From 12 innings Duffin has scored 500 runs at 71.42, the best campaign ever by a Renegades batter.
"She’s shown with that extra responsibility her game has gone to another level," Coyle said.
"She is a serious player. The great thing, over and above the 500 runs, if the timing of the runs has been perfect.
"We’ve been in trouble at times and every time she’s stood up to either almost won games or - more often than not – won us games.
"That’s what you want from your captain so let’s hope she’s got a couple more big innings in her."
The Renegades have been without Sophie Molineux for their last four matches after the Australian allrounder told the club she was taking a break from the game to focus on her mental health.
Coyle said the club would welcome Molineux back for their finals campaign if she made herself available but added there was no time frame on her return.
"She is still on a break," he said. "If she put her hand up and said she felt like she wanted to come back we’d welcome her, but at the moment she’s in a good place and we’ll leave it at that, and we wish her all the best."
The Renegades suffered a heartbreaking semi-final loss to two-time champions Sydney Sixers at Drummoyne Oval last season that ended in a super over.
Coyle believes his charges have learnt from that experience and will be better prepared for what is likely to be a vocal crowd supporting local heroes the Heat on Saturday.
"The great thing about the group is we had an experience in finals last year and we know what to expect.
"We’ll be a lot calmer, we know what it means now to go and play our best cricket in the finals."