The stakes are obviously huge as the eighth edition of the WBBL culminates on Saturday at North Sydney Oval.
The Sydney Sixers are looking to regain their status as the WBBL’s powerhouse, while the Adelaide Strikers are looking for redemption after a heartbreaking loss in last year’s decider against the Perth Scorchers.
The 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 have not won since their victory over the Scorchers in February 2018 and suffered the shock of a wooden spoon last season.
After a remarkable comeback, the Sixers will start favorites against the Strikers after a dominant regular season in which they finished on top with 11 wins to automatically qualify for the finals.
Standing in their way is a side looking for their first title. They will be out to put to rest the ghosts of the loss to the Scorchers almost exactly 12 months ago to rest with nine players from that game likely to take the field on Saturday.
Blessed with arguably the best attack in the tournament, the Strikers should feel confident having narrowly beaten the Sixers 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 to a tournament.
(Last five completed matches; last first)
Sydney Sixers WWWWW
Adelaide Strikers WWWLNR
In the spotlight
After being crowned Player of the Year by the WBBL, Ashleigh Gardner is being tossed around as arguably the best player in the country. Her spectacular season has included 339 runs at a strike rate of 153.39 and 23 wickets at 15.08, and her off-spin has improved significantly. She has emerged as a world-class all-rounder and resigned with the Sixers for another 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 relationship
Sunny conditions are forecast in Sydney with a maximum temperature of 23 degrees to complement the picturesque North Sydney Oval. The pitch is usually conducive to batting and the ground’s short boundaries and fast outfield should ensure a high-scoring contest.
Statistics and trivia
“I think given the density of the competition and how many games we’ve played in such a short space of time, this week is a real advantage. I think everyone got a chance to say work on something or get out what they needed. It was also just a really great chance to spend some more time together.”
Ellyse Perry have no worries after the break before the final
“Losing a final is never easy. We were quite disappointed last year and we used that hunger to drive the whole season. We go out there with no fear, to play our best cricket and we want that trophy quite badly.”
Tahlia McGrath on channeling last season’s near miss
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth