On the weekend there were three matches in the WBBL.

The first two were both between the Melbourne Stars and the Brisbane Heat at Junction Oval in Melbourne, and the third was between the Sydney Thunder and Sydney Sixers at Howell Oval in Penrith in Western Sydney.

Both of the two Melbourne matches were reasonably close and followed a similar pattern: the Stars batted first, scoring a reasonably high total and narrowly fending off a chase from the Heat.

The Sydney Thunder easily defeated the Sydney Sixers, thanks to a steady flow of wickets and heavy-hitting.

In this post I’ll summarise the key stats from each match, below the fold.

Next weekend, there’ll be seven matches in Tasmania and Western Australia over three days. I’m unlikely to cover them in the same level of detail, but if I’m around I will do some tweeting of key stats at the @strike_rate Twitter account, so follow along.

Stars vs Heat #1

The Stars scored 156 in their first match, with the Heat responding with 136. Out of over 250 women’s matches played in Australia, a team has scored 156 in the first innings only 31 times – and 30 of those scores ended up being enough to win. The Heat’s 136 was also impressive (higher than 26 other second-innings scores) but not enough to win.

Stars captain Meg Lanning dominated both matches. In the first innings, she scored 90, and English import Nat Sciver scored 33, with no other player scoring over 10. Their partnership of 65 runs was the core of the innings.

Lanning scored her second-highest-ever score, behind her score of 126 against Ireland at the 2014 Women’s World Twenty20. Lanning’s previous high score in Australia was 82 for Victoria against Queensland in January this year.

The highlight for the Heat bowling was team captain Delissa Kimmince, who took 3/25, a career best. In my database I have records for 46 previous matches in which she has bowled, and she has managed two wickets six times, but never three.

Kimmince managed to take the wickets of both Lanning and Sciver with LBWs, as well as Meg Lanning’s sister Anna for 2.

The Heat batting in response was dominated by two players: Grace Harris and Ash Barty. No other batter scored over 13 runs, while Harris scored 42 and Barty scored 39. The Heat scored 136, falling 20 runs short of the Stars.

Barty has never batted at this level before, and it was a strong debut from someone who was playing top-level tennis in 2014. Grace Harris’ 42 was her third-highest score in 61 innings.

All five of the Stars’ bowlers took wickets, with Morna Nielsen and Kristen Beams each taking three wickets. Both bowlers have previously taken four wickets just once, so both results were amongst their best. Legspinner Alana King, bowling on her debut, conceded the least runs with 1/14. She then was the most efficient again in the second match with 1/18.

Stars vs Heat #2

The second match followed a similar pattern. The Stars scored 147, with Lanning leading with 75 not out. Sciver again scored second-best with 29, and Lanning’s fellow opener Katie Mack improved with a score of 24.

Meg Lanning scored a total of 165 runs with a strike rate of 144.7, scoring over 60% of her runs with 22 fours and two sixes.

Most of the Heat bowlers failed to make an impact, with three of the four wickets coming as run outs. Jemma Barsby was the highlight, scoring 1/17. As well as taking the wicket of Sciver, she was the most efficient Heat bowler when it came to conceding runs – only 4.25 runs per over.

The Heat relied more on its top order in achieving an almost-identical chase in their second match, scoring 137 and falling short by nine runs. Openers Beth Mooney and Grace Harris scored an opening partnership of 47. Jess Jonassen joined Harris for ten runs before Harris lost, and Jonassen then stayed in for the remainder of the innings, scoring 52 off 48 balls while she lost another five partners. This is Jonassen’s third half-century and her third-best score.

There wasn’t any standout Stars bowlers. All five bowlers bowled a full five overs, and took at least one wicket, with Sciver and Beams taking two, and Alana King conceded the least runs with 1/18.

Thunder vs Sixers

The weekend was finished with the first women’s Sydney Derby at the suburban Howell Oval in Penrith on the outer western edge of Sydney. Not that it really matters, but the men’s Thunder hadn’t managed to win the derby in eight contests over the last four years.

Sixers wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy started the innings well, scoring 14 runs off 15 balls before being caught after 2.5 overs with the score on 1/19.

After five overs, the Sixers were still performing well, scoring ten runs in the fifth over to sit on 1/30. The collapse started in the sixth over, when Lauren Cheatle saw off both Sara Hungerford and Sara McGlashan.

After losing two of her partners, South African international Marizanne Kapp was joined by former Australian international Lisa Sthalekar, and they managed a 33-run partnership, before the Sixers lost another three wickets, and finished on 9/101.

None of the Sixers batters performed particularly well, with Kapp and Sthalekar’s attempt at stabilising the innings being a highlight. With a score of 101 runs, I calculated that only 15.3% of first-innings scores in the range of 90-110 runs in women’s T20 matches in Australia were enough to win.

The Thunder bowling generally was very strong, with the highlight being the performance by 17-year-old Lauren Cheatle on debut, scoring 4/20. Cheatle performed particularly well taking two wickets for only two runs in the critical sixth over, and then breaking the key partnership.

The Sydney Thunder began batting in a very strong position. They started cautiously, and looked a bit wobbly when they lost Rachael Haynes for 9 in the third over.

Opener Stafanie Taylor and Thunder captain Alex Blackwell started their partnership slowly, before accelerating in the seventh over. Taylor and Blackwell finished off the total in 13.2 overs, with an unbroken partnership of 89 off 10.5 overs. Taylor was particularly impressive, hitting nine fours and one big six. Taylor scored 71% of her runs on the boundary, while Blackwell scored 41% of hers on the boundary.

The ‘player of the match’ award was given to Taylor for her impressive batting, plus some useful bowling, but personally I would’ve given the award to Cheatle. The Thunder was in a very strong position to win after the Sixers could only score 101, and would have probably been able to do it without Taylor’s explosive batting, considering the 6.4 overs they had left to score those runs. On the other hand, Cheatle proved decisive in turning the course of the Sixers innings.

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