'Fight and ticker': Perry's tough talk as Sixers aim for finals
After five successive defeats the Sydney Sixers looked a spent force in WBBL|06 but a gutsy performance in a nail-biter against the Sydney Thunder may just be the spark they needed
19 November 2020, 11:11 AM AEST
Ellyse Perry has praised the "fight and ticker" of her Sydney Sixers teammates for arresting their slide and pulling themselves back into finals contention amid a hectic end to the Rebel WBBL season.
The Sixers snapped a run of five successive defeats in the space of 10 days with a tense, final-ball victory over the Sydney Thunder on Wednesday night.
Perry's team remain outside the top four but are level on 12 points with the two teams sitting above them, the Thunder and the Perth Scorchers, with matches against the Melbourne Renegades and Melbourne Stars to come on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
The Sixers were a noticeably louder and more energised outfit in the field against their cross-town rivals under lights on Wednesday night, in what was the first and only completed Sydney derby of the season after an earlier scheduled match was abandoned as a washout.
"It was a particularly important performance for us and it was really nice to see the girls show so much fight and ticker," Perry said following the four-run win.
"We've had a number of chats over the last week or so and for whatever reason it's clicked for us tonight.
"We've left the run really late and put a bit of pressure on ourselves, but to respond in the way we did tonight is really important and I'm really proud of the girls for showing that fight."
The Sixers have forged a reputation as one of the most consistent outfits in the WBBL; the bulk of their star-studded squad remains intact each season, they almost always bat first when winning the toss, they have a consistent batting order and Marizanne Kapp generally opens the bowling alongside Perry in the Powerplay.
It is a formula that has produced remarkably consistent results; the Sixers have made three finals, won two titles and missed the top four just once across five seasons.
But with their WBBL|06 campaign on the line, two of those factors were different on Wednesday – one by necessity, and another by choice.
Dane van Niekerk batted at No.3 in place of Ashleigh Gardner, who was recovering from a concussion suffered on Sunday against the Adelaide Strikers, while the South Africa allrounder also bowling her leg-spin up front alongside her wife, Kapp.
Both moves paid off, with van Niekerk hitting a 39-ball 48 and collecting the key wicket of England international Tammy Beaumont in the second over of the Thunder chase.
"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result," Perry said.
"We definitely needed to change a little bit tonight, it gave us some spark.
"That's all Ben Sawyer (the Sixers head coach) and the incredible amount of work he does behind the scenes, analysing opposition and the trends of each tournament we're playing.
"(Beaumont) was such an important wicket for us early on so when a plan like that comes off … it's really pleasing.
"Dane was outstanding with the bat today and so was Alyssa Healy, those girls are such important players in our line-up … in the field it was a special performance and Erin Burns' athleticism in the field has again got us a long way to winning that match."
It has been a whirlwind finish to the regular season with every team playing six matches in nine days, and Perry admitted the schedule had made it difficult for the Sixers to arrest their slide after losing back-to-back matches to the Scorchers followed by defeats to the Hobart Hurricanes, Strikers and Brisbane Heat in quick succession.
"People really kindly want to offer a lot of answers and have a lot of opinions, but sometimes there's not a clear answer, you've just got to dig in and hold on to the fight," Perry said.
"It's really tough (to change that momentum) and everyone scratches their head for answers.
"You've just got to ride it out, give everyone the best possible chance to perform as a team and as individuals.
"I think this season presents a unique challenge because we are in a hub, so you don't get a chance to step away for a second and think about something else, you're constantly surrounded by it.
"There's lots of challenges but that's awesome, that's why we play."
A tight battle for a spot in the top four lies ahead with all teams to play on Saturday and Sunday.
The Sixers will take on a resurgent Renegades outfit with nothing to lose under lights at North Sydney Oval, before meeting the top-of-the-table Stars, who have already qualified for their first finals campaign in club history, the following afternoon.