ACT Meteors to put 2023/2024 lessons into action next summer

The young ACT Meteors showed on several occasions 2023/2024 they could mix and match with some of the domestic players in Australia, despite results not going the way they wanted.

The Meteors managed one win for the Women’s National Cricket League season, a four-wicket victory over NSW at Phillip Oval highlighted by Alisha Bates scoring her first WNCL half-century.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 30: Alisha Bates of the Meteors raises her bat in the air after reaching a half century during the WNCL match between ACT and New South Wales at EPC Solar Park, on January 30, 2024, in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Through several tough outings this season, some honest truths were learned by the group and heading into next season the Meteors will look to build on those lessons.

In only her second season as skipper of the Meteors, Katie Mack led from the front for the Meteors with a 471-run season, which included a career highest score of 140* against a strong Victoria bowling attack bolstered by Australian star Ellyse Perry.

Mack’s superb season saw her selected for the Australia A intra-squad match (Green v Gold) played in Adelaide in early March, alongside teammate Gabby Sutcliffe (with Meteors Coach Erin Osborne also selected as Coach of the Gold squad).

L to R: Katie Mack, Erin Osborne & Gabby Sutcliffe.

“The last couple games were a positive for us, if we had a longer season, we might have seen better performances. The big thing for us for next year is we build from that and don’t start again,” Mack reflected, before heading to England to link up with Lancashire.

With ongoing development and advancement of women’s cricket across the country, some of the younger squad members had a tough introduction to the WNCL than in previous years gone. The Meteors were put up against some outfits that contained some the country’s biggest names – Meg Lanning, Ellyse Perry, Elyse Villani, and Megan Schutt to name a few.

Young players and new additions to the squad this year, Grace Lyons and Amy Hunter, who grew up idolising the likes of Lanning and Perry showed they could compete with the best.

Lyons by the end of season became a staple at the top of the order and was a safe pair of hands behind the stumps, while Hunter had the opportunity to take the new ball at points of the season, notably taking the scalp of destructive South African international Lizelle Lee when the Meteors hosted Tasmania. Both finished the year named in the Australian Under-19s squad to tour Sri Lanka.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 18: Grace Lyons of the ACT bats during the WNCL match between Victoria and ACT at CitiPower Centre, on January 18, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/Getty Images)

“I probably had an easier introduction to this level of cricket. There is definitely a bit more competition around and it is a higher standard now,” Mack said.

“It is potentially one of the good things about not having a great season, as it kind of showed the girls where they need to be at and added to that motivation of where we need to be, sometimes when you’re winning you don’t learn as much as when you’re losing.”

The Meteors started the season with some promising performances, notably Mack’s 95* and Holly Ferling’s 4-54 against South Australia, however the squad struggled to put it all together in a collective team performance.

As a result, the group suffered some tough losses through the middle of the season against the strong outfits of Western Australia and Victoria but took lessons out of those games to improve themselves by the backend of the year.

The ACT finished the WNCL campaign with matches against NSW at Phillip Oval, where the group put in two whole team performances and record their first win in the process.

Alisha Bates starred in the first match, recording her highest WNCL score of 66, and combining with Katie Mack for a 122-run partnership to guide the Meteors home by four wickets. In what had been a tough season to date, the group were rewarded for the continual hard work and persistence applied throughout the season.

Bates bashes career-best 66 in WNCL run chase

Carly Leeson led the way in the second match, picking up three wickets and top-scoring with 96, falling agonisingly short of a maiden century.

“Our win against NSW definitely felt like we had it all come together. AJ finding her way at number four and getting her first half-century, and to be out there while she did it was pretty special.” Mack said.

With the conclusion of the season in February, looking ahead to next season, Mack emphasised the importance for the group to not take a backwards step and to build off their strong performances against NSW into 2024/2025.

“Making sure we start from a certain standpoint and don’t drop below that, we figured out the way we want to play and key performance indicators we want to get to,” Mack said.

“The biggest thing is starting from where we finished last season and not going backwards.”

Article by UC Sports Media student Oliver Nguyen

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