Women's cricket the winner in WBBL semis

In one amazing day, the WBBL semis showcased the irrefutable rise of women’s cricket

One thing is clear after Saturday’s two semi finals in the Women’s Big Bash League – women’s cricket is producing some of the most exciting and entertaining sporting contests in the world right now. While Ellyse Perry was clearly the star of the show, the two matches were filled with an incredible supporting cast – each playing their part in creating an anticipation-fuelled drama from start to finish.

Despite the early start, fans flocked to Drummoyne Oval, with 3,500 making their way through the gates during the day. While across the country, television viewers steadily increased, beginning with 188,000 for the first session in the match between Sydney Thunder and Brisbane Heat and building to 329,000 for the Super Over in the Sydney Sixers and Melbourne Renegades game.

Social media was alive with fans sharing their thoughts, and the competition hashtag was the number one trending topic on Twitter during the matches.

The @WBBL just keeps delivering. Two of the best games and some of best fielding you’ll ever see!! Congrats to all the teams for their part in such a memorable day #WBBL04

— Charlotte Edwards (@C_Edwards23) January 19, 2019

Greatest finish in any sport ever !!! Can't stop watching the replays #WBBL04 https://t.co/xhbQzzfbsg

— Ash (@Tenash921) January 20, 2019

The @WBBL semi-finals have shown that when you make women's sport the main event you get top quality performances by some of the best players in world. #WBBL04

— Jamie Ramage (@famousstrauss) January 19, 2019

The Thunder and Heat match was full of twists and turns, with the Thunder taking their collective foot off the throat of the Heat’s batters, allowing them to accelerate and build up a defendable total. With the bat the Sydneysiders struggled to put their own pedal to the metal – the Heat’s bowling attack identified Stafanie Taylor as a key scorer and successfully stifled her impact on the game.

Without star Harmanpreet Kaur, who left before the WBBL’s final round for India’s tour of New Zealand, the Thunder were exposed – numbers seven and eight Rene Farrell and Maisie Gibson came to the crease having not faced a ball since their second round match at North Sydney. But despite these batting woes, the Thunder came within a whisker of victory, largely due to Nicola Carey’s 19 from 10 balls. With five needed for victory from the final ball, Carey gave it her all with a slog sweep that came within centimetres of a match-winning six, only to be snaffled by Haidee Birkett in what must be the catch of the season so far.

Both teams, the crowd and the fans at home rose as one, the clashing emotions of heartbreak and joy making way for the awe of knowing they had all been part of one of the great T20 matches of all time. If only they knew what was still to come.

With the emotions of the first game still raw a second set of hometown heroes, the Sydney Sixers, took to the crease hoping to send the local crowd home in a more celebratory fashion. A slow start for the home team put them on shaky ground, with Alyssa Healy, Ash Gardener, Erin Burns and Sara McGlashan all departing for single figures. At last Ellyse Perry found a partner she could build an innings with in Dane van Niekerk and they were able to scrounge up a defendable total.

Early on in the Renegades’ innings it appeared as if the Sixers would walk it in, and the crowd breathed a sigh of relief that their hearts would be spared the workout the first match had brought. After starring with the bat, Perry showed why she is the world’s best all-rounder, taking an early wicket and following it up with a catch and a run out.

But despite all this, the Renegades persisted and it all came down to the final over. Perry brought herself back to bowl – a highly sensible decision given her figures of 1-8 to that point – with the Renegades needing 13 runs for victory. In an incredible over, Sophie Molineux guided the ball expertly around the field to bring it down to the wire. With three runs needed from the final ball, there was not an unchewed nail in or out of Drummoyne Oval. Without the slightest hint of nerves, Molineux sent the ball steaming for the boundary, only to have it cut off by the desperate fielding of Erin Burns. With the two Renegades batters sprinting for their match-winning run, Healy sent the ball flying into the stumps at the bowler’s end to send the match to a Super Over.

That heroic act seemed to lift the home team, who walked back to the field as fresh as if they were beginning a new game, with Marzianne Kapp controlling the ball brilliantly – allowing only six runs from the Renegades’ over. When the Sixers came out to bat, it was clear from Perrry’s face that she was determined to finish it. This was her world – everyone else was simply living in it. After three singles to start the over, Perry finally had the ball she wanted and swept it hard over long on for six.

The jubilation was overwhelming – the crowd hardly daring to believe it hadn’t been a dream, that this incredible day of cricket had been theirs to witness. And if these were only the semi-finals, what does Drummoyne Oval have in store for us on 26 January?


Megan Maurice

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
WBBL opportunities and depth of talent pool set Australian women's cricket apart | Geoff Lemon
With a platform to showcase emerging players such Phoebe Litchfield, rivals are struggling to keep pace

Geoff Lemon

06, Nov, 2019 @5:00 PM

Article image
Diversity a boon for women’s cricket as Indian cohort elevate WBBL quality | Megan Maurice
Smriti Mandhana’s record-equalling runs and Harmanpreet Kaur’s domination headlined India’s growing presence

Megan Maurice

26, Nov, 2021 @7:00 PM

Article image
Brisbane Heat win WBBL final – as it happened
Over-by-over report: Brisbane Heat celebrated a thrilling WBBL title with a nail-biting victory over Sydney Sixers at Drummoyne Oval

Jonathan Howcroft

26, Jan, 2019 @2:50 AM

Article image
Perry reveals vision for women's cricket after winning ICC player of the year
Ellyse Perry revealed her vision for the future of Australian women’s cricket after she was named ICC women’s player of the year

Guardian sport and agencies

26, Dec, 2017 @5:08 AM

Article image
Healy haunts Strikers again as WBBL records are threatened
Star of the recent women’s World Twenty20, Alyssa Healy has continued her impressive form in the Women’s Big Bash League, smashing an unbeaten 112 off just 69 balls

Richard Parkin with agencies

28, Dec, 2018 @6:47 AM

Article image
Recent Australian dominance whets appetite for WBBL season five | Megan Maurice
Women cricketers will strike out on their own for the first time when the new domestic Twenty20 competition begins

Megan Maurice

16, Oct, 2019 @5:00 PM

Article image
WBBL star Deandra Dottin taken to hospital after sickening headclash
West Indian star cricketer Deandra Dottin has been taken to hospital after a sickening headclash with teammate Laura Harris whilst fielding

Guardian sport

27, Dec, 2016 @6:16 AM

Article image
Marizanne Kapp recovering after heart scare during Sixers' WBBL game
Sydney Sixers allrounder Marizanne Kapp is awaiting test results after being taken to hospital following a heart scare during a Women’s Big Bash League game on Wednesday

Guardian sport and agencies

11, Nov, 2020 @11:23 PM

Article image
WBBL final: Brisbane Heat beat Adelaide Strikers - as it happened
Brisbane Heat have secured consecutive WBBL titles with a comprehensive victory over Adelaide Strikers at Allan Border Field

Jonathan Howcroft

08, Dec, 2019 @7:18 AM

Article image
Ellyse Perry scales final frontier with dominant WBBL batting form | Lisa Sthalekar
The Australian has raised the bar and set a new standard during a record-breaking season

Lisa Sthalekar

18, Jan, 2019 @3:21 AM