Cricket superstar Meg Lanning says conditions, tactics and the professionalisation of women’s cricket are leading to record breaking scores on the opening weekend of the WBBL.
The Sydney Sixers, who scored 242, set a record on Saturday for the highest score in a BBL or WBBL match.
The Sydney Thunder also set a previously unmatched WBBL team total of 200 on Saturday, while the Melbourne Renegades (189) and the Perth Scorchers (188) – who were missing Lanning through injury – posted the fourth and fifth highest WBBL totals respectively.
The Adelaide Strikers’ 183 against the Hobart Hurricanes in South Australia on Saturday was the sixth highest score in the competition’s history. Their 176 against the same team on Sunday was the seventh highest score.
The Sixers’ total included the highest and quickest ever WBBL century, a brutal 114 off 52 balls smashed by Ashleigh Gardner. Susie Bates made 102 off 65 balls for the Hurricanes on Sunday.
Before Bates and Gardner smashed centuries on consecutive days only two centuries had been made in two whole seasons of the WBBL.
The previous highest team score of the competition was Brisbane Heat’s 190 in 2015.
Lanning, who said she was frustrated having to watch others make runs on the pristine North Sydney Oval deck, believed the trend toward high scores would continue through the season.
“We have got a great ground to play at, the wicket has been really good,” Lanning said. “I think the other thing is more batters are able to utilise only having four fielders out, so I think in the first couple of WBBLs you could have your cover fielder up a lot more and you’d probably get away with it.
“Now a lot of players can hit both sides of the wicket and once play gets going I think it’s pretty impossible to stop so hopefully the scores continue throughout the WBBL and it’ll be an exciting tournament that’s for sure.”
The ropes at North Sydney Oval were only very slightly in from the men’s rope outline which was still visible. The outfield was quick too, however given how hard many of the batters were striking the ball it would be hard to argue that it was too much of an aid.
With Australian contracted players being paid more, NSW contracted players taking home full-time wages and players who play WBBL and domestic one-day cricket getting close to, if not, a full-time wage, Lanning said Cricket Australia’s investment in the women’s game was reaping rewards.
“No doubt, I think that [the professionalisation of women’s cricket] makes a massive difference,” she said. “Not only training more for skills but you’ve also got your strength and your fitness ability as well that’s able to go along with that so we’ve had a good week and a half together as a team which helps so I think we will only see that continue to grow.
“It’s a combination of all those things and I think teams are going harder early, we’re not waiting for the last five overs to start taking on the bowlers so obviously that gives you a better chance to get a higher score so look, 242 last night, that’s just a bit ridiculous really, but it was a great spectacle to watch.”
Sixers and Australia star Ellyse Perry, who smashed 91 off 49 deliveries against the Melbourne Stars on Saturday, agreed with Lanning.
“We are another year into the development of women’s cricket,” Perry said. “Most of the women have been full-time elite cricketers for the past 12 months so that’s always going to lead to development.
“The girls are fitter, they’re stronger and have more time to work on their technique and get to know their game so it’s probably not surprising.”
Meanwhile, the boy in the crowd who was hit in the head by a Perry six during her stunning innings is OK. Perry rushed off the pitch after hitting the ball to check if the boy was well.
He did not spend the night in hospital and is at home under the supervision of his parents. Perry phoned the boy on Sunday morning to check in after she gave him her hat during the innings break on Saturday.
Other big, quick-fire scores from the weekend’s games included Natalie Sciver (84 runs off 46 balls), Delissa Kimmince (87 off 54), Jess Duffin (81 off 47) and Nicola Carey (47 off 17).
The match at North Sydney Oval attracted 3914 fans for Saturday’s WBBL double-header. 4812 turned up for Sunday’s double-header at the same venue. A lot of those fans were families, with many young children in attendance across the weekend.
The Sydney Sixers vs Melbourne Stars match on the Saturday was the most watched regular-season WBBL match in the competition’s history, attracting an average national audience of 422,500 viewers with a peak of 629,000, a 59 per cent increase on last season’s WBBL average ratings.
The other match televised on Saturday, Sydney Thunder vs the Melbourne Renegades, attracted an average national audience of 278,500 peaking at 426,000.
The first day average audience of 350,000 was a 46 per cent increase on last season.
Sixers wicketkeeper-opening batter Alyssa Healy lauded the success of the opening WBBL weekend.
“It’s amazing to see just how far this competition has come and what it’s done for cricket in general and women’s cricket more specifically,” she said. “I think it’s been exciting to be a part of and hopefully it just keeps growing the game and we see more people coming.”
Lanning also revealed she was aiming to return to cricket in early 2018, after the WBBL finishes on February 4.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.