WBBL mid-season report – Renegades and Heat lead the way, but it’s a tight tussle


With 28 matches played the group stage of this year’s tournament is halfway through. Here’s a rundown of how things with just six points separating top from eighth

Melbourne Renegades (7 matches, 5 wins, 11 points)

Form (most recent first) WWWWNLW

Season so far
A fantastic turnaround to date from last season’s seventh-placed team and they are on a run of four consecutive wins after the Harmanpreet Kaur-inspired chase against Adelaide Strikers. They have lost Georgia Wareham to a season-ending injury but so far have covered it well.

What’s worked well
Harmanpreet and Jemimah Rodrigues have more than returned the investment in them with a combined tally of 406 runs while Harmanpreet also has taken seven wickets. Sophie Molineux has been parsimonious with the ball going at 5.14.

What needs to improve
Molineux is low on runs having slipped back down to the middle order. Holly Ferling has only bowled five overs in six matches as Renegades lean on their spinners but has conceded 9.40 an over.

Brisbane Heat (7 matches, 4 wins, 9 points)

Form LWWWNWL

Season so far
The batting performance against Melbourne Stars (9 for 95) came as a surprise after they had produced a series of impressive results following a Super Over defeat in their first match. Still they are well placed to be in the finals mix.

What’s worked well
Grace Harris is having a superb tournament at the top of the order and is currently the leading run-scorer (251 runs at 50.20, strike-rate 133.51). She has formed a powerful opening pair with Georgia Redmayne – the duo have scored the four half-centuries Heat have managed. Jess Jonassen, back from injury, leads the way with the ball on 12 wickets at just 9.16.
What needs to improve
Laura Kimmince has been unable to replicate her middle-order x-factor so far with 24 runs in five innings. The overseas players – Poonam Yadav, Anneke Bosch and Nadine de Klerk – have only managed six wickets between them.

Sydney Sixers (7 matches, 3 wins, 7 points)

Form WLLNLWW

Season so far
They secured a vital and convincing win over Perth Scorchers to snap a period where they had played some uncertain cricket, having started with back-to-back wins, amid further restructuring of the team. It still doesn’t quite feel like they have their gameplans completely sorted.

What’s worked well
Alyssa Healy began with a brisk fifty and then made an unbeaten 94 against Scorchers. Alongside Ellyse Perry, who is Sixers’ leading run-scorer, they have dominated the run making although Perry’s strike-rate is 90.59. Lauren Cheatle has bowled nicely in limited appearances while Radha Yadav’s left-arm spin brings a different dynamic.
What needs to improve
Shafali Verma has not fired as hoped and now finds herself in an unaccustomed middle-order role with Perry back at the top. Ash Gardner is having a tournament to forget with the bat (60 runs in six innings, strike-rate 77.92). Perry is conceding 8.62 with the ball from just eight overs.

Melbourne Stars (8 matches, 3 wins, 7 points)

Form WLLWNWLL

Season so far
Inconsistent from last year’s beaten finalists but they are very much in the mix. As with a few teams the batting has been underwhelming but the bowlers were excellent in restricting Brisbane Heat to 95 in the most recent match. They have less than half their matches remaining, though.

What’s worked well
Kim Garth, the former Ireland allrounder, has been outstanding with the ball (11 wickets, economy 5.18) headlined by her spell of 3-3-0-3 against Sydney Thunder. Elyse Villani has led the batting while Maia Bouchier, the England batter, has played some handy innings.
What needs to improve
Meg Lanning is going through a rare lean patch with 96 runs in seven innings so far and 27 of those came in the comfortable chase against Heat. Her and Annabel Sutherland (although the latter has made a half-century) need to take some of the onus off Villani.

Perth Scorchers (6 matches, 3 wins, 7 points)

Form LWWNLW

Season so far
Sophie Devine’s brilliance in Super Overs has secured two of their three wins. On such fine margins can tournaments rest. Their defeats have been by hefty margins – 59 and 44 runs – which hasn’t helped the net run rate.
What’s worked well
Devine. Alongside her Super Over skills, she hammered a magnificent century against Sydney Thunder. Beth Mooney is currently their leading run-scorer. The spin-bowling pair of Alana King and Lilly Mills, both off-season signings, has also been influential.

What needs to improve
Not for the first time, the dominance of Mooney and Devine has the knock-on effect of sometimes not leaving much time for others to have a hit. Chamari Athapaththu is striking at under 100 but has only faced 60 deliveries. Taneale Peschel, one of the success stories of last season, has conceded 9.23 runs per over having had to remodel her action.

Adelaide Strikers (6 matches, 2 wins, 5 points)

Form LLLNWW

Season so far
They started well with victories in their first two matches but since then their only point has been from a washout. They lost in a Super Over against Perth Scorchers (or rather, Sophie Devine) and couldn’t defend 160 against Melbourne Renegades. But they have matches in hand.

What’s worked well
Tahlia McGrath started with a bang in the opening games but has since tailed off a little. Seven of the nine batters who have been to the crease have struck at better than a run-a-ball. Sarah Coyte leads the wicket-taking with nine while Megan Schutt’s economy on her return (4.62 in two matches) stands out.

What needs to improve
The Lilac Hill weekend could have gone the other way so they don’t need to panic. A little more composure in key moments will be crucial in the second half. Both McGrath and Dane van Niekerk have conceded more than seven an over.

Hobart Hurricanes (8 matches, 2 wins, 5 points)

Form (most recent first) LLWLNWLL

Season so far

They have twice toppled Melbourne Stars – the first of the matches centered around Rachel Priest’s 107 off 68 balls – but have been pretty comfortably beaten in five games. They are one of two teams who have played more than half their group matches.

What’s worked well
After a slow start, Mignon du Preez has found her touch with the bat. Priest’s hundred was a spectacular display but it has been her only significant contribution so far. Ruth Johnston has impressed with the ball while Tayla Vlaeminck has bowled with pace.
What needs to improve
They are going to need more with the bat from the middle order. Richa Ghosh (138 runs at 19.71) and Nicola Carey (142 runs at 17.75) need to take some of the burden off du Preez and Priest. Molly Strano, while being the joint-leading wicket-taker, is conceded a run-an-over more than her career mark.

Sydney Thunder (7 matches, 2 wins, 5 points)

Form WWLLLNL

Season so far
The defending champions have revived their season with back-to-back victories after the only point in the first five games had come from a washout. It will give them confidence that they can go on a surge in the second half of the competition. They were unable to post more than 110 in their first three outings.

What’s worked well
The bowling attack is going nicely with left-arm spinner Samantha Bates enjoying another impressive return with an economy rate of just 5.08. English quick Issy Wong has also found rhythm in recent matches while Deepti Sharma is the leading wicket-taker with eight. For a young captain of a team that was struggling, Hannah Darlington’s composure has also stood out.
What needs to improve
The batting still feels a little lightweight in the absence of captain Rachael Haynes. Crucially, Smriti Mandhana appears to have settled into the tournament with two half-centuries in three innings, but her strike-rate may need to lift – her and Deepti are the only two batters striker over 100.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo



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