WBBL – Grace Harris hits it out of the park

We’ve had a rush of Women’s Big Bash League games being played on Friday and yesterday in Perth and Launceston, with three more due today. I’ll return following the weekend’s play with a summary of the performances, but I wanted to focus particularly on Grace Harris’ performance in last night’s match between the Brisbane Heat and the Sydney Sixers.

In this innings, she scored the first century of the WBBL, and her first century in top-level Twenty20, before turning around and achieving her best bowling figures in Twenty20 cricket. I’ll run some comparisons to show how impressive the innings was.

We’ve now seen all eight teams play between one and three matches. The Hobart Hurricanes have won all three of their games, and the Melbourne Stars and Perth Scorchers have won both of theirs. On the other end, the Sydney Sixers have lost all three of their matches by large margins, and the Renegades also lost both of theirs.

The Brisbane Heat lost their first three matches, all by slim margins – they lost their third match to the Scorchers by two runs on Friday.

Last night, the Heat played their fourth match against the Sixers, who earlier had only scored 81 runs against the Scorchers, who chased down the Sixers’ total in 13.2 overs (precisely the same time it took for the Thunder to do the same last Sunday).

In my database of 828 women’s Twenty20 matches, there are only nine cases of a player scoring a century.

The highest ever score came from Sara McGlashan batting for Auckland against Northern Districts in January 2014, when she scored 131 runs off 63 balls. Out of these nine centuries, only two had been scored in Australia: both were scores of 103, and both were in late 2011, in Brisbane and Canberra by Melissa Bulow (QLD) and Leah Poulton (NSW).

Harris equalled their scores, scoring the tenth century in this set of women’s Twenty20 data.

Out of Harris’ 103 runs, eighty of them came from 14 fours and 4 sixes. There have only been four other scores which involved more runs from the boundary. Meg Lanning scored 96 runs off 18 fours and 4 sixes against Ireland in 2014, Sara McGlashan scored 84 on the boundary in her 131-run innings for Auckland in 2014, Cecilia Joyce scored 84 boundary runs for Ireland against Scotland in 2014, and the West Indies’ Deandra Dottin (who is playing for the Scorchers) hit seven fours and nine sixes against South Africa in 2010.

Largely in thanks to Harris’ century, the Brisbane Heat scored a total of 3/190. This is the eight-highest women’s score in my database.

It’s also the new record-highest score for a women’s Twenty20 innings in Australia. The previous record was 2/181, scored by New South Wales against the ACT at Manuka Oval in Canberra in 2011 – which was also the last time a century was scored in a women’s match in Australia.

After scoring that very high figure (and setting up the Heat nicely to win), the Sixers aimed high. After scoring 106 and 81 in their previous innings, the Sixers managed to score 155 – which would normally be enough to win a women’s match.

The Sixers innings was underpinned by 61 runs off 29 balls by Sara McGlashan, the same New Zealander who set the record for the biggest score in women’s Twenty20 cricket in the NZ domestic competition in 2014.

Grace Harris came into the bowling attack late, with the Sixers on 3/131 after 17 overs – an impressive run rate, but not likely enough to challenge the target of 191. Harris then tore the Sixers batting to pieces.

Harris took the wickets of McGlashan and her partner Aley in her first over, and came back in the final over to take two more cheap wickets, for final bowling figures of 4/15 off only two overs.

As a comparison, Grace Harris has never taken more than two wickets in a Twenty20 match, and has only managed two on seven occasions.

Overall it was an impressive performance that will only increase the focus on Harris, and despite the Heat narrowly losing their first three matches it suggests that they could be a very dangerous team in this tournament.


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