The stakes are obviously huge as the eighth edition of the WBBL culminates on Saturday at North Sydney Oval.
Sydney Sixers are looking to reclaim their status as the WBBL’s powerhouse, while Adelaide Strikers are striving for redemption after a heartbreaking loss in last year’s decider against Perth Scorchers.
Sixers dominated the early years of the competition and featured in the first four finals, including back-to-back titles in the second and third editions. But they haven’t won since their victory over Scorchers in February 2018 and suffered the shock of a wooden spoon last season.
After a remarkable bounce back, Sixers will start favorites against Strikers following a dominant regular season, where they finished top with 11 wins to automatically qualify for the final.
Standing in their way are a side who are looking for their first title. They will be out to put the ghosts of their loss to Scorchers almost exactly 12 months ago to rest with nine players from that match likely to take the field on Saturday.
Blessed with arguably the best attack in the tournament, Strikers should feel confident having beaten Sixers narrowly this season albeit a month ago in the last clash between the teams.
A near capacity crowd is expected at North Sydney Oval in a strong finish for a tournament.
(Last five completed matches; most recent first)
Sydney Sixers WWWWW
Adelaide Strikers WWWLL
In the spotlight
After being crowned player of the WBBL, Ashleigh Gardner is being bandied around as arguably the best player in the country. Her spectacular season has included 339 runs with a 153.39 strike-rate and 23 wickets at 15.08 with her off-spin having notably improved. She has emerged as a world-class all-rounder and re-signed with the Sixers for a further three years. There is a lot of hype surrounding the 25-year-old and all eyes will be on Gardner on the big stage.
Sydney Sixers (possible): 1 Suzie Bates, 2 Alyssa Healy (wk), 3 Ellyse Perry (capt), 4 Ashleigh Gardner, 5 Erin Burns, 6 Nicole Bolton, 7 Sophie Ecclestone, 8 Kate Peterson, 9 Angelina Genford, 10 Lauren Cheatle, 11 Stella Campbell
Adelaide Strikers (possible): 1 Katie Mack, 2 Laura Wolvaardt (wk), 3 Tahlia McGrath (capt), 4 Deandra Dottin, 5 Bridget Patterson, 6 Madeline Penna, 7 Tegan McPharlin (wk), 8 Amanda-Jade Wellington, 9 Jemma Barsby , 10 Megan Schutt, 11 Darcie Brown
Pitch and conditions
Sunny conditions are forecast in Sydney with a maximum temperature of 23 degrees to complement the picturesque North Sydney Oval. The pitch is usually favorable for batting and the ground’s short boundaries and quick outfield should ensure a high-scoring contest.
Stats and trivia
“I think given the density of the competition and how many games we’ve played in such a short period of time, this week is a real advantage. I think everyone got a chance to say work on something or get what they needed out. It was also just a really great chance to spend some more time together.”
Ellyse Perry does not have any concerns after the break before the final
“Losing a final is never easy. We were pretty disappointed last year and we used that hunger to drive the whole season. We’re going out there with no fear, to play our best cricket, and we want that trophy pretty bad.”
Tahlia McGrath on channeling last season’s near miss
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth