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WBBL mid-season report – Renegades and Heat lead the way, but it’s a tight tussle

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With 28 matches played the group stage of this year’s tournament is halfway through. Here’s a rundown of how things with just six points separating top from eighth

Melbourne Renegades (7 matches, 5 wins, 11 points)

Form (most recent first) WWWWNLW

Season so far
A fantastic turnaround to date from last season’s seventh-placed team and they are on a run of four consecutive wins after the Harmanpreet Kaur-inspired chase against Adelaide Strikers. They have lost Georgia Wareham to a season-ending injury but so far have covered it well.

What’s worked well
Harmanpreet and Jemimah Rodrigues have more than returned the investment in them with a combined tally of 406 runs while Harmanpreet also has taken seven wickets. Sophie Molineux has been parsimonious with the ball going at 5.14.

What needs to improve
Molineux is low on runs having slipped back down to the middle order. Holly Ferling has only bowled five overs in six matches as Renegades lean on their spinners but has conceded 9.40 an over.

Brisbane Heat (7 matches, 4 wins, 9 points)

Form LWWWNWL

Season so far
The batting performance against Melbourne Stars (9 for 95) came as a surprise after they had produced a series of impressive results following a Super Over defeat in their first match. Still they are well placed to be in the finals mix.

What’s worked well
Grace Harris is having a superb tournament at the top of the order and is currently the leading run-scorer (251 runs at 50.20, strike-rate 133.51). She has formed a powerful opening pair with Georgia Redmayne – the duo have scored the four half-centuries Heat have managed. Jess Jonassen, back from injury, leads the way with the ball on 12 wickets at just 9.16.
What needs to improve
Laura Kimmince has been unable to replicate her middle-order x-factor so far with 24 runs in five innings. The overseas players – Poonam Yadav, Anneke Bosch and Nadine de Klerk – have only managed six wickets between them.

Sydney Sixers (7 matches, 3 wins, 7 points)

Form WLLNLWW

Season so far
They secured a vital and convincing win over Perth Scorchers to snap a period where they had played some uncertain cricket, having started with back-to-back wins, amid further restructuring of the team. It still doesn’t quite feel like they have their gameplans completely sorted.

What’s worked well
Alyssa Healy began with a brisk fifty and then made an unbeaten 94 against Scorchers. Alongside Ellyse Perry, who is Sixers’ leading run-scorer, they have dominated the run making although Perry’s strike-rate is 90.59. Lauren Cheatle has bowled nicely in limited appearances while Radha Yadav’s left-arm spin brings a different dynamic.
What needs to improve
Shafali Verma has not fired as hoped and now finds herself in an unaccustomed middle-order role with Perry back at the top. Ash Gardner is having a tournament to forget with the bat (60 runs in six innings, strike-rate 77.92). Perry is conceding 8.62 with the ball from just eight overs.

Melbourne Stars (8 matches, 3 wins, 7 points)

Form WLLWNWLL

Season so far
Inconsistent from last year’s beaten finalists but they are very much in the mix. As with a few teams the batting has been underwhelming but the bowlers were excellent in restricting Brisbane Heat to 95 in the most recent match. They have less than half their matches remaining, though.

What’s worked well
Kim Garth, the former Ireland allrounder, has been outstanding with the ball (11 wickets, economy 5.18) headlined by her spell of 3-3-0-3 against Sydney Thunder. Elyse Villani has led the batting while Maia Bouchier, the England batter, has played some handy innings.
What needs to improve
Meg Lanning is going through a rare lean patch with 96 runs in seven innings so far and 27 of those came in the comfortable chase against Heat. Her and Annabel Sutherland (although the latter has made a half-century) need to take some of the onus off Villani.

Perth Scorchers (6 matches, 3 wins, 7 points)

Form LWWNLW

Season so far
Sophie Devine‘s brilliance in Super Overs has secured two of their three wins. On such fine margins can tournaments rest. Their defeats have been by hefty margins – 59 and 44 runs – which hasn’t helped the net run rate.
What’s worked well
Devine. Alongside her Super Over skills, she hammered a magnificent century against Sydney Thunder. Beth Mooney is currently their leading run-scorer. The spin-bowling pair of Alana King and Lilly Mills, both off-season signings, has also been influential.

What needs to improve
Not for the first time, the dominance of Mooney and Devine has the knock-on effect of sometimes not leaving much time for others to have a hit. Chamari Athapaththu is striking at under 100 but has only faced 60 deliveries. Taneale Peschel, one of the success stories of last season, has conceded 9.23 runs per over having had to remodel her action.

Adelaide Strikers (6 matches, 2 wins, 5 points)

Form LLLNWW

Season so far
They started well with victories in their first two matches but since then their only point has been from a washout. They lost in a Super Over against Perth Scorchers (or rather, Sophie Devine) and couldn’t defend 160 against Melbourne Renegades. But they have matches in hand.

What’s worked well
Tahlia McGrath started with a bang in the opening games but has since tailed off a little. Seven of the nine batters who have been to the crease have struck at better than a run-a-ball. Sarah Coyte leads the wicket-taking with nine while Megan Schutt’s economy on her return (4.62 in two matches) stands out.

What needs to improve
The Lilac Hill weekend could have gone the other way so they don’t need to panic. A little more composure in key moments will be crucial in the second half. Both McGrath and Dane van Niekerk have conceded more than seven an over.

Hobart Hurricanes (8 matches, 2 wins, 5 points)

Form (most recent first) LLWLNWLL

Season so far

They have twice toppled Melbourne Stars – the first of the matches centered around Rachel Priest‘s 107 off 68 balls – but have been pretty comfortably beaten in five games. They are one of two teams who have played more than half their group matches.

What’s worked well
After a slow start, Mignon du Preez has found her touch with the bat. Priest’s hundred was a spectacular display but it has been her only significant contribution so far. Ruth Johnston has impressed with the ball while Tayla Vlaeminck has bowled with pace.
What needs to improve
They are going to need more with the bat from the middle order. Richa Ghosh (138 runs at 19.71) and Nicola Carey (142 runs at 17.75) need to take some of the burden off du Preez and Priest. Molly Strano, while being the joint-leading wicket-taker, is conceded a run-an-over more than her career mark.

Sydney Thunder (7 matches, 2 wins, 5 points)

Form WWLLLNL

Season so far
The defending champions have revived their season with back-to-back victories after the only point in the first five games had come from a washout. It will give them confidence that they can go on a surge in the second half of the competition. They were unable to post more than 110 in their first three outings.

What’s worked well
The bowling attack is going nicely with left-arm spinner Samantha Bates enjoying another impressive return with an economy rate of just 5.08. English quick Issy Wong has also found rhythm in recent matches while Deepti Sharma is the leading wicket-taker with eight. For a young captain of a team that was struggling, Hannah Darlington’s composure has also stood out.
What needs to improve
The batting still feels a little lightweight in the absence of captain Rachael Haynes. Crucially, Smriti Mandhana appears to have settled into the tournament with two half-centuries in three innings, but her strike-rate may need to lift – her and Deepti are the only two batters striker over 100.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo



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BBL11 2021-22 – Bowling attack gives Melbourne Renegades hope of revival

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The batting remains questionable and they will be looking for the youngsters to develop

Captain Nic Maddinson
Coach David Saker

Squad
Cameron Boyce, Zak Evans, Aaron Finch, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Sam Harper, Marcus Harris, Mackenzie Harvey, Josh Lalor, Shaun Marsh, Jono Merlo (replacement player), James Pattinson, Mitch Perry, Jack Prestwidge, Kane Richardson, James Seymour (replacement player), Will Sutherland, Nic Maddinson, Reece Topley (Eng), Unmukt Chand (Ind), Mohammad Nabi (Afg), Zahir Khan (Afg)

In Nic Maddinson, Jono Merlo, James Seymour, Reece Topley, Unmukt Chand, Zahir Khan
Out Beau Webster, Peter Hazloglou, Jon Holland, Benny, Howell, Noor Ahmed, Imran Tahir, Imad Wasim

Last season

It was another disastrous season for the Renegades finishing last for the second straight year. They won their first match and then lost seven in a row. Their batting was abysmal, bowled out for less than 90 on three occasions and 111 in another match against Adelaide. The bowling was nowhere near as effective as season’s past and they struggled to find a consistent unit as they mixed and matched their overseas players. There was one bright spot as they produced a brilliant chasing win over Melbourne Stars late in the season. Mackenzie Harvey starred smashing 47 not out from 21 balls to give a glimpse into the future.
International impact
Renegades have been severely impacted by both Australia selection and injury. Nic Maddinson‘s selection in the Australia A side to face England Lions means the new Renegades captain won’t get a chance to lead his new club until their fourth game at the earliest. Marcus Harris is set to miss most of the season due to Test duty. Aaron Finch is in doubt for the early games due to his ongoing knee issue while Shaun Marsh is set to miss at least half the tournament due to a calf tear. England does have tour of West Indies in the new year and Afghanistan is scheduled to visit Bangladesh but it is unknown if the likes of Reece Topley, Mohammad Nabi or Zahir Khan will need to leave the BBL early.
Player to watch
Reece Topley is an important recruit for Renegades and has a chance to make a serious statement to England selectors ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia next year. Fellow Englishman Harry Gurney was a key part of Renegades’ run to the title three years ago and Topley has a similar opportunity to cause havoc on the inconsistent home surface of Marvel Stadium.

Key stat (Gaurav Sundararaman)
Renegades were the worst bowling unit in the previous BBL edition. Their bowling economy rate of 8.61 was the highest among all teams and their death bowling economy was 11.24. If Renegades want to play finals, this is an area they need to focus on. Their attack certainly looks stronger this season

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Chris Gayle farewell on the cards with Jamaica set to host West Indies-Ireland series

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The series will comprise three ODIs and a one-off T20I, all at Sabina Park

West Indies will play three ODIs and a T20I against Ireland in Jamaica from January 8 to 16, the CWI has announced, with the possibility that the standalone T20I will be used as a farewell match for Chris Gayle.

While Gayle will not be part of the ODI squad, with the series counting towards 2023 World Cup qualification through the Super League, the one-off fixture at Sabina Park could be used as his farewell game. ESPNcricinfo understands that a decision has yet to be made on Gayle’s inclusion but that the issue will be up for discussion at the next meeting of CWI’s board of directors later this month.

“It’s whether collectively we all feel that it’s appropriate for him to have one last game at home to say farewell in a one-off game,” Johnny Grave, CWI’s chief executive, told the Mason and Guest radio show in Barbados last month. “That Ireland series would represent that opportunity.

“It would certainly be appropriate, as far as I can see it, to treat our players and give them the opportunity to bow out – especially players like Chris who have had unbelievable careers and won trophies for the West Indies.”

Ireland will travel to the Caribbean on December 31, immediately after their series against USA which starts on December 22 and comprises two T20Is and three ODIs. They have already named their squads for both tours, with Kevin O’Brien left out and David Ripley taking temporary charge as interim head coach.
Ireland last toured the Caribbean in 2020, drawing the T20I series 1-1 and losing the ODI series 3-0. Sabina Park was also the venue for one of the finest moments in Irish cricketing history, their victory over Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup on St Patrick’s Day.

“We are pleased to be returning to the Caribbean where we have so many great memories,” Richard Holdsworth, Cricket Ireland’s performance director, said. “The World Cup Super League is a crucial set of fixtures for Ireland as we attempt to qualify for the next Cricket World Cup, and – if the series in 2020 is anything to go by – we look forward to a highly competitive series in January.”

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98



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Bangladesh tour of NZ BCB approves Shakib Al Hasan’s request to skip New Zealand tour

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Nazmul Hassan says BCB has no problem with players wanting a break, but says it should happen via official channels

BCB president Nazmul Hassan said on Monday that the board has accepted Shakib Al Hasan‘s leave request to skip the New Zealand tour for which Bangladesh are scheduled to leave later this week. Some days ago, Hassan claimed that Shakib only informed them “unofficially” of his reluctance to be on the tour, and hours later, Shakib reportedly had requested the board by handing over a letter officially.

“We have accepted his request,” Hassan said. “We have been saying this for a long time that we have no objection if a player wants to take a break or rest, but it has to be informed officially. The thing is, we want to be informed about such a decision in advance as it is difficult for us if it is informed suddenly. From January, if anyone wants a break, he has to inform us in advance so that we can prepare alternatives.”

This is the third time in 2021 that Shakib has skipped a tour for Bangladesh. He opted out of the white-ball tour of New Zealand in March due to paternity leave before missing the two Tests against Sri Lanka in April to play in the IPL.

Hassan felt Shakib should have asked for the leave officially, rather than informing them verbally.

“This [the confusion] is not embarrassing, to be honest. We simply didn’t know about it, officially,” Hassan said. “The thing is, these things have always happened unofficially. Now, to avoid confusion, we are emphasising that these matters should be official.”

Bangladesh’s tour of New Zealand includes two Tests, part of the World Test Championship, beginning on New Year’s Day. The team will leave on December 9 to complete quarantine and then play practice matches.



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