Western Australia have made their first Women’s National Cricket League final in 18 years, after claiming victories against Victoria and Queensland in the final round of the domestic 50-over competition.
The Alcohol.Think Again Fury now meet red-hot favourites New South Wales in Saturday’s final at Blacktown, with the Lendlease Breakers aiming to win their 19th title from 22 WNCL seasons, having featured in the play-offs in every single season.
It comes just weeks after the Rebel WBBL final, which saw the Sydney Sixers defeat the Perth Scorchers in a match featuring 10 players who are now likely to go head-to-head for a title once again on Saturday.
And the seven NSW players who didn’t play in the WBBL final – those representing Sydney Thunder – will have their own score to settle with their Western Australian counterparts, who knocked them out of the WBBL|03 semi-finals.
The Fury last made the WNCL finals in 1999-2000, when they lost the best-of-three finals series to the Breakers 2-0.
They last won the national championship in 1986-87, under the previous Australian Women’s Cricket Championship format. This season's result is a remarkable turnaround from 2016-17, when they went winless through the six regular-season matches.
Western Australia dropped just one game during the WNCL regular season – to the Breakers in November – and cemented their spot on Sunday with a narrow 31-run victory over Queensland at Allan Border Field.
Despite handy contributions from Australian stars Elyse Villani (91 from 108) and Nicole Bolton (40 off 58), the Fury were bowled out for 222 in 48.3 overs.
But they fought back admirably with the ball to dismiss the Fire for 191 in 46.3 overs, Heather Graham the hero with the ball taking 4-31, alongside England seamer Kate Cross (2-46).
But they’ll face a tough task to stop the NSW juggernaut from claiming yet another WNCL title next weekend, after the Breakers went through the regular season undefeated.
They secured their place in the final with wins over South Australia and Tasmania at the weekend, with Australia batter Rachael Haynes the star of the weekend with knocks of 92no and 76.
They boast a star-studded line-up featuring current internationals Haynes, Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy, Alex Blackwell, Belinda Vakarewa and Sarah Aley alongside former Australia seamer Rene Farrell, and have won 11 of the past 12 WNCL titles – the sole blip an upset loss to South Australia in 2015-16.
Western Australia possess two Australian internationals in Bolton and Villani, alongside England pair Cross and Amy Jones. Their ranks also include Australian National Performance Squad members Heather Graham and Piepa Cleary.
The WNCL final will be streamed live and free on cricket.com.au and on the CA Live app.