When and where: Saturday, February 24 from 10am AEST at Blacktown International Sportspark
Where to watch: Live and free on cricket.com.au and the CA Live app
Ruth Preddey Cup WNCL titles: Breakers 18, Fury 0
Lendlease NSW Breakers (likely): Alex Blackwell ©, Ellyse Perry, Sarah Aley, Nicola Carey, Rene Farrell, Maisy Gibson, Lisa Griffith, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Lauren Smith, Naomi Stalenberg, Belinda Vakarewa, Rachel Trenaman
Alcohol.Think Again Western Fury (likely): Elyse Villani (c), Megan Banting, Nicole Bolton, Mathilda Carmichael, Piepa Cleary, Kate Cross, Bhavi Devchand, Katie Hartshorn, Heather Graham, Amy Jones, Emma King, Taneale Peschel, Chloe Piparo
Last time they met
The Breakers travelled to Perth to take on the Fury in late November, where they cruised to a seven-wicket win. Sent in to bat, Lauren Smith struck early to remove WA and Australia opener Nicole Bolton without scoring, before the losses of Chloe Piparo (15) and Elyse Villani (34) left the Fury 3-60. They recovered thanks to half-centuries from Amy Jones (67) and Megan Banting (50), reaching 239 from their 50 overs. But the Breakers were never troubled in reply, Alyssa Healy (99), Alex Blackwell (68) and Ellyse Perry (45no) leading the way as NSW cruised home with 10.4 overs to spare.
The back story
The Breakers have had a stranglehold on the WNCL through the competition’s 22-year history. They’ve never missed the finals and of 21 titles to date, they’ve won the Ruth Preddey Cup 18 times. They boast a star-studded line-up brimming with current and former international representatives: Alex Blackwell, Ellyse Perry, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Sarah Aley, Rene Farrell, Belinda Vakarewa. However, they can be beaten as South Australia showed in the 2015-16 WNCL final when they upset NSW to claim their maiden title.
The Fury, on the other hand, will play in their first WNCL final since 1999-00, when they lost to the Breakers 2-0 in the best-of-three series. This season has produced a marked turnaround for Western Australia after they failed to win a game in 2016-17; this year they’ve beaten everyone except the Breakers. They too boast a strong line-up, with Australian batters Elyse Villani and Nicole Bolton joined by England pair Kate Cross and Amy Jones.
The road to the final (most recent last)
NSW Breakers: WWWWWW
Western Fury: WWLWWW
What they say
NSW captain Alex Blackwell: "We've got a big match on Saturday and I let the Breakers know my decision (to retire) on Sunday so we could really enjoy the week. I'm setting myself to enjoy this week and prepare the best I can to help keep the Ruth Preddey trophy in New South Wales."
WA captain Elyse Villani: "I'm really excited to lead the girls in our first WNCL final in 18 years, it's a real achievement having not won a single game for the season last year. Different people have stood up under pressure throughout different times over the WNCL season, which has been the most impressive thing about our team. NSW have been the team to beat this season as they go into the final undefeated so we know they will be tough competition. We also know that if we just focus on ourselves and play the style of cricket we set out to play, we can match it with any side and I completely back our girls to do just that. "
Players to watch
Rachael Haynes: The Australia batter was in excellent form during the Rebel WBBL and she carried that into the final two regular-season WNCL matches, scoring 92no against Tasmania and 76 against the ACT to top the runs table.
Rene Farrell: The former Australia seamer has had a brilliant season for the Breakers, topping the league wicket tally with 14 scalps at 14.64 and an economy rate of 3.68. In her two most recent WNCL hit outs, she took 3-24 and 2-38.
Alex Blackwell: The NSW captain will play her final game for the Breakers in Saturday’s final after announcement her international and state retirement on Monday. She walks away as NSW’s highest run scorer and, coming off a half-century in their final group game, will be determined to sign off on a high.
Elyse Villani: The Fury captain has had a strong season in the 50-over game, sitting third on the runs tally with 288 runs, including one century and one half-century, to her name. She’s determined to lead from the front and given the pain of losing the WBBL final to the Sixers earlier this month, she won’t want to let this opportunity pass her team by.
Nicole Bolton: The opener and part-time bowler has been a key cog for the Fury, scoring one century and one fifty with her 266 runs coming at 66.50. After again produced when it mattered in the semi-final against Sydney Thunder, earning player of the match honours. She was pivotal in the Scorchers' win last time they took on the Sixers, making 42 and taking 2-15.
Kate Cross: The England pace bowler has been a very useful addition to the Fury ranks this season, with the right-armer taking 11 wickets in six matches and maintaining a tidy economy rate of 3.95. A strong bowling performance from WA will be crucial if they want to stop NSW’s powerful batting line-up and they’ll look to the experienced Cross to lead the charge.
Australia tour of India
Warm-up match v India A, BKC Ground, Mumbai, March 8
Warm-up match v India A, BKC Ground, Mumbai, March 6
First ODI Vadodara International Cricket Stadium, March 12
Second ODI Vadodara International Cricket Stadium, March 15
Third ODI Vadodara International Cricket Stadium, March 18
First T20I Australia v India, Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai, March 22
Second T20I Australia v England, Brabourne Stadium, March 23
Third T20I India v England, Brabourne Stadium, March 25
Fourth T20I Australia v India, Brabourne Stadium, March 26
Fifth T20I Australia v England, Brabourne Stadium, March 28
Sixth T20I India v England, Brabourne Stadium, March 29
Final Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai, March 31