Sydney Sixers will be looking to erase the pain of last summer and go one better in the Rebel Women’s Big Bash League final this Saturday when they take on the Perth Scorchers at #TheFurnace.
The Sixers finished runners-up last season in dramatic circumstances, losing to arch rivals Sydney Thunder in the final over at the MCG.
But while the Sixers had to win nine matches in a row last year to book a berth in the final, it’s a dramatically different story year, with the club finishing the regular season on top of the WBBL|02 ladder, two points clear of the Scorchers, and they advanced to the final with a 103-run thrashing of the Hobart Hurricanes.
That will fill them with plenty of confidence, but the Scorchers were equally impressive in their semi-final by thumping of the Brisbane Heat by nine wickets at the WACA Ground and will also fancy their chances.
The two fierce rivals have clashed twice this season with the Sydneysiders winning on both occasions, once by 16 runs and the other by four wickets. But both of their victories came on the eastern seaboard, so it could be a different story with the final to be contested on the Scorchers’ home ground in front of a patriotic Perth crowd.
Sydney Sixers: Alyssa Healy (c), Sarah Aley, Ashleigh Gardner, Kim Garth, Jodie Hicks, Marizanne Kapp, Carly Leeson, Emily Leys, Sara McGlashan, Angela Reakes, Lauren Smith, Lisa Sthalekar, Dane Van Niekerk
Perth Scorchers: Suzie Bates (c), Nicole Bolton, Katherine Brunt, Mathilda Carmichael, Piepa Cleary, Lauren Ebsary, Heather Graham, Katie Hartshorn, Emma King, Chloe Piparo, Anya Shrubsole, Emily Smith, Elyse Villani.
The Sixer’s stand-in skipper Alyssa Healy has been nothing short of phenomenal since taking over from Ellyse Perry in their last two matches. Healy has been inspirational and led from the front, scoring 84 and 77 in her last two innings. She has thrived in her new role with the bat to lead the Sixers to two comprehensive victories.
Suzie Bates will hold an advantage over Healy purely on the fact that she has captained the Scorchers in all their matches, not to mention her vast leadership experience as skipper of New Zealand. She has experience handling different situations and is also an astute tactician. Her decision to drop herself down to No.3 for the last few games, allowing Australian pair Nicole Bolton and Elyse Villani to strike up their combination again at the top of the order, shows Bates is willing to make the tough decisions that are beneficial to her team’s success.
The back stories
The Scorchers will be delighted by the fact they will be playing the final at the WACA in front of their home crowd. They have no injury concerns and their top order seems to be in fine form at the right time. They have been based in Perth for last couple of weeks allowing them to play the same eleven players in four of their past five games.
The Sixers, meanwhile, have had to play in Sydney, Brisbane and now travel to Perth in space of seven days. They have lost their captain Perry to injury and there are concerns over the fitness of Sara McGlashan ahead of the final, after the Kiwi aggravated a knee injury while batting in the semi-final. The Sixers have had to chop and change their line-up over the past few games when South African imports Marizanne Kapp and Dane van Neikerk were away on international duties, but the good news is they returned ahead of the semi-final. But despite these concerns, the Sixers have still looked a formidable side – never more so than in their 103-run victory over the Hurricanes in the semi-final.
All eyes will be on Sixers stand-in skipper Alyssa Healy and Scorchers opening batter Elyse Villani. Both players have amassed more than 400 runs this season and both are in red hot form having scored half-centuries in the semi-final. Both will be pivotal in getting their respective teams off to a flying start and it could well be the player that scores more runs between the two of them that will decide the fate of the contest.
Ashleigh Gardner can break the game open in space of few deliveries. She has hit the equal-most sixes in WBBL|02 and her ability the power the ball to and over the ropes is second to none.
The quiet achiever:
Piepa Cleary has flown under the radar during the past few matches but she is handy third seamer for the Scorchers. Cleary has taken 10 wickets from her seven matches this season with an impressive average of just 11.60.
Form Guide (most recent last):
Sydney Sixers: WLLWW
Perth Scorchers: WWWLW
The Sixers have posted four off the five highest totals in WBBL|02 and have managed four scores in excess of 150, while the Scorchers have only managed it once. The Sixers average 148 when batting first this season and out of those 10 matches have only lost twice (once in the Super Over). Meanwhile, the Scorchers have won six matches batting second, with their highest run chase being 1-125 in the semi-final against the Heat.
The weather is expected to be hot and sunny with temperatures searing towards 40 degrees on Saturday. The heat will be factor with the match starting at 10:45am local time.
The Scorchers will have the advantage of playing at home but we still feel the depth and the experience of the Sixers will just get them across the line.