The Melbourne Stars have made it to finals for the first time in six seasons, where they will meet Perth Scorchers. The Stars have been a revelation this year, finishing on top of the table for the standard season with the highest net run rate to boot.
For 70-match veteran and Abode Hotels ACT Meteor Erin Osborne, the feeling is a familiar one: she was a member of the Sydney Thunder team that won the inaugural WBBL and was player of the match in the final for her crucial 3/21.
This time around, Erin has found appearances a little harder to come by due to a series of frustrating niggles. She has appeared in eight of the Stars’ 14 matches so far.
Despite having taken only two wickets so far, Erin has been a vital cog when she has played. The stats show that of all bowlers with more than 5 overs under their belt, Osborne’s economy of 5.30 is the best for the entire tournament (and second best overall, regardless of overs bowled). She is also the only Stars bowler with an economy rate of less than a-run-a-ball.
This miserly rate, finals experience and appetite for the big stage could present an enticing package for selectors and coaching staff who will be desperate to make amends for 5 consecutive seasons of missing out on finals.
The second semi-final, between Brisbane Heat and Sydney Thunder on Thursday night, tells a different story. The Heat are chasing their third consecutive WBBL trophy and will be as comfortable – or at least familiar – with finals pressure as any team can be.
Another ACT Meteor Nic Hancock has been a key performer for her side. In 11 matches, she has taken 10 wickets and cemented her role as able support to class act and Australian International Jess Jonassen and kiwi import Amelia Kerr, who have taken 16 wickets apiece. With all rounder Grace Harris, who has also scored over 240 runs for the year, the Heat boast a formidable frontline bowling attack.
A team-first and supportive environment has been key to the Heat’s success. Finishing just one point behind the Stars despite not having a single batter in the top ten leading run scorers for the season is a testament to this. Their bowling attack has depth, too – beyond the 55 wickets from their leading bowlers, another five players have chipped in with 23 wickets at crucial times.
The semi-final also holds a personal stake for Hancock, too: current assistant coach for the Sydney Thunder Jono Dean is perhaps more commonly known as head coach of the Abode Hotels ACT Meteors head. Both colleagues will be desperate to bring bragging rights home upon their return to the capital.
Regardless of the result, Dean will be proud of all the Meteors performances this WBBL. Highlights Katie Mack’s two 50s en route to another consistent year of scoring; Mets training partner Gabby Sutcliffe making her debut for the Thunder; and Carly Leeson’s 11 wickets for the Renegades, including a player-of-the-match performance against the Strikers in which she took 3/14. Special mention goes to Maddie Penna who produced one of the innings of the tournament, too – arriving at the crease with her Strikers side stuttering at 6/72, Maddie raced to 56 off 33 balls to bring her side to 6/141, eventually inspiring her side to a 64 run win over the Hurricanes.
You can watch the Meteors taking part in Finals – both matches will be broadcast live on Seven. Good luck to Oz and Nic!
WBBL|06 Finals Fixtures
Semi Final 1: Melbourne Stars v Perth Scorchers
Wednesday 25th November, 7.10pm AEDST, North Sydney Oval\
Semi Final 2: Brisbane Heat v Sydney Thunder
Thursday 26th November, 7.10pm AEDST, North Sydney Oval