The defending champions are bottom of the table but have recently found some form
Darlington, aged 19, was named skipper of WBBL defending champions the Sydney Thunder after border closures and a newborn baby prompted the withdrawal of veteran Rachael Haynes.
The Thunder dropped the opening four games of their title defence. They have since posted wins over Hobart Hurricanes and Melbourne Stars, setting up a crunch clash with Brisbane Heat at Adelaide Oval on Sunday. Darlington was a picture of composure and positivity throughout the poor start, according to Mandhana.
“That’s the key thing as a leader that you don’t let the pressure or anything show on your face,” Mandhana told AAP. “She was really good throughout those four matches, just kept focusing on the positives and she had a major role to play in it [the turnaround].
“She looks pretty relaxed and calm for her age. She’s doing an amazing job to lead a team at her age. She’s quite approachable, that’s the best thing about her and that’s what you want as a captain.”
Darlington made her international debut during the recent multi-format series, becoming just the third Indigenous woman to play cricket for Australia. The Kamilaroi woman was part of an Indigenous team that visited England in 2018, retracing the steps of the 1868 Aboriginal tour.
Darlington’s appointment as the youngest ever WBBL captain came at the Thunder’s customary shirt presentation on the banks of the River Derwent, where traditional owners performed a smoking ceremony.
Darlington and team-mate Anika Learoyd, a Gumbaynggirr woman, spoke from the heart while starting conversations about Indigenous culture with new team-mates like Mandhana.
“It’s amazing to learn more about the culture…hear their stories and learn more about them,” Mandhana said. “Especially for those of us not from Australia. Within the team, we discuss the culture and the land where we are going to play.”
Mandhana, who celebrated a record-breaking Test ton earlier this season, has posted two half-centuries from her past three WBBL games. She has represented India on 150 occasions, with her first match against Australia coming at Adelaide Oval in 2016. The 25-year-old is thrilled to return to the venue that also triggers memories of “watching Virat score a lot of runs”.
“It’s a good wicket to bat on,” Mandhana said. “I’m excited. We didn’t start this tournament the way we wanted to but there were positive signs. Hopefully we continue this momentum, we can’t afford to lose many other matches.”
The WBBL continues on Saturday with three games, including a showdown between the second-placed Heat and table-topping Melbourne Renegades at Karen Rolton Oval.
More WBBL matches could move to primetime as viewership hits new records
The crowd for the final in Perth set a new benchmark for a standalone WBBL match
A WBBL final which brought a record crowd and record TV ratings could herald a shift towards more primetime matches in the future as the tournament looks to its next stage of evolution.
Perth Scorchers claimed the title on Saturday in front of 15,511 spectators at Optus Stadium which set a new benchmark for a standalone WBBL match. It also had the largest average broadcast audience in the competition’s history with 535,000 put it ahead of the 2018-19 final which was played ahead of a day of men’s Test cricket.
This was the first season where every match was available on television and overall CA said it was the most-watched edition. While Alistair Dobson, the general manager of Big Bash Leagues, believes the weekend festivals, which see multiple matches at the same venue, will continue to be an important part of the tournament there will be a push to exploit more evening time slots.
“Ultimately the ambition was of getting every game on TV and we were really thankful we could do that this year,” Dobson told ESPNcricinfo. “The next evolution is to optimise those blockbusters and there’s an opportunity for us to explore more primetime matches, whether that’s Thursday or Friday nights, and working with our broadcasters to build up some big annual marquee matches which I think is the obvious next step for the competition.”
The new finals structure, which gave the team who finished top of the regular season direct entry into the final, meant there was a week to promote the match in Perth.
“I think it worked exactly how we intended to give us a full week’s build-up but also rightfully rewarding the team that finished first with the biggest advantage which we felt was warranted,” Dobson said. “The atmosphere and noise just showed how passionate the fans are and think the quality of the game did it justice as well.
The season started in a Tasmania-based hub due to border restrictions in Australia and barring a brief lockdown in Hobart was played without significant problems although two major markets – Melbourne and Sydney – were unable to stage games.
“Firstly just being able to play and getting all eight teams together in Tasmania was no mean feat,” Dobson said. “But then the quality of the cricket throughout, the quality of the overseas players, it was amazing to have such a great group of Indian players, they brought a whole new dimension, alongside all the other players.
“Matched by the depth of talent in Australia, a lot of the really big household names were easily matched by a lot of players we are all getting to know a lot better.
“In reinforces the WBBL as the No.1 cricket league for women and it’s really important we maintain that position in the future.”
Recent Match Report – South Aust vs Queensland 10th Match 2021/22
Renshaw hammered 156 from 109 balls after Gurinder Sandhu’s hat-trick had restricted the home side
Queensland 4 for 275 (Renshaw 156*, Bryant 68) beat South Australia 274 (Carey 101, Sandhu 4-44) by six wickets
It was Queensland’s second win from four matches in the one-day competition this season, while South Australia are struggling with a 1-3 record.
In the mix to replace former captain Tim Paine as Australia’s Test gloveman at the Gabba next month, Carey had failed to reach double figures in any of his previous six innings for the Redbacks this season.
He made a patient start to his innings before blasting his second 50 in just 30 balls, charging to his second one-day century of the season. He smashed a huge slog-sweep six off Marnus Labuschagne but was eventually bowled by the part-time legspinner when attempting to cut a delivery that wasn’t quite as short as he had expected.
Queensland quick Sandhu finished with 4 for 44 from his nine overs, with Matt Kuhnemann also impressing as the final six South Australia wickets fell in the space of just 15 balls.
Like Carey, Travis Head was hoping to impress national selectors, but he was dropped twice before his luck ran out on 29, caught by Mark Steketee off Kuhnemann.
Queensland’s run chase began slowly and they were in trouble early when Test squad members Usman Khawaja and Labuschagne fell cheaply. Labuschagne departed in stunning fashion when he was run out by Hunt’s direct hit from a tough angle.
But Renshaw’s composed knock steered the Bulls home. Featuring 15 fours and five sixes, his century came from 91 balls with his third fifty taking just 16 deliveries as he plundered Wes Agar.
Abu Dhabi T10, 2021 – Phil Salt, Tom Banton show off their credentials
Across a weekend of triple-headers, there has been an exhibition of opening batting on display
Across a weekend of triple-headers at the Abu Dhabi T10, there has been an exhibition of opening batting on display. No doubt, the shorter boundaries have helped, especially in a format whereby the risk of losing a wicket is also considerably less.
If there was any doubt as to whether the injury could have affected him, Salt erased it instantly. In the first over of the chase, he blasted 21 runs off the five deliveries he faced, clipping away his first and last ball from Nuwan Pradeep to the boundary, and smashing two sixes in between.
In a tournament with some of the biggest names in world cricket, Salt has been one of the standout players. The game he was injured in and the game he missed subsequently have been the only two games that Team Abu Dhabi have lost this season.
Amongst anyone who has scored at least 100 runs in the Abu Dhabi T10, no batter possesses a better strike rate than Salt. In fact, no one has scored more boundaries than his 17 fours and 21 sixes.
“Something you do when you’re playing well is that you pick your areas based on instinct” Salt said. “Chris Gayle, I’ve chewed his ear off. He’s got so many tools that I want to add to my game… The most impressive thing and a few guys have it, is that ruthless mentality that someone like Chris has, in the way he takes the game on.
“If I can just keep tapping into things like that, the biggest improvements to be made and the lessons to be learnt are from those guys, in terms of how they deal with the game upstairs.”
Asked where he sees himself across formats domestically and internationally, Salt said: “It’s something I used to struggle with, really wanting to get on to the next stage. I still do want it just as bad, but I’m very aware now that the only way to get there is to take it day by day by day. I know that’s a really boring answer, but I’ve found that’s the most effective way to improve and not get ahead of myself.”
Salt’s tale bears a hint of similarity with that of Banton, whose unbeaten 46 against Delhi Bulls included seven fours and two sixes. Two players brimming with talent, with aspirations to regularly represent their country, yet coming to an understanding with their opportunities and their experiences thus far, that ultimately it is something that will find its way, rather than something that can be chased.
Whilst Salt made his international bow in perhaps fortuitous circumstances with three ODIs against Pakistan, Banton was unfortunately part of the England playing group that was forced to isolate before that series.
Banton was the breakout star of 2019 and an England call-up followed – he was part of Eoin Morgan’s white-ball set-up for the best part of a year between November 2019 and September 2020 – yet bubble life and quarantine took its toll on him.
A blistering 47-ball century in the T20 Blast against Kent served as a reminder of his ability, but a second-ball duck in the final against the same opposition summed up a somewhat disappointing and challenging year in which he was also released by Kolkata Knight Riders.
“I had quite a big break. For the whole of October, I didn’t play any cricket – nothing whatsoever. I just lived a social life and saw a lot of friends and family, which I felt was quite important, and now I feel like I’m enjoying it again,” said Banton.
“I’d love to get back in the squad but I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself to be there next year. I just want to enjoy my cricket and I think if you’re in that headspace, the rest will take care of itself.”
For the pair of them, knowing that Morgan is around, will no doubt add some extra motivation as the Abu Dhabi T10 enters its final week.
MLB free-agency grades – Texas Rangers bet big on their future with Marcus Semien signing
Follow live: Lamar returns for Ravens in AFC North showdown vs. Browns
MRI results come back for Atlanta Hawks’ Bogdan Bogdanovic, Cam Reddish
Groin injury ends Randall Cobb’s most productive day since his return to Green Bay Packers
Police investigate Serie A incident, Fiorentina vs Empoli
Rams vs. Packers – Game Summary – November 28, 2021
Milwaukee Bucks signing center DeMarcus Cousins to non-guaranteed deal
Nick Sirianni fails Jalen Hurts for passing performance in Philadelphia Eagles’ loss
Grizzlies’ Ja Morant avoided significant knee injury, expected to miss at least ‘couple weeks,’ Taylor Jenkins says
Twins, Buxton find perfect balance in incentive-laden deal
NFL7 days ago
What is your NFL team’s most heartbreaking loss? From ’28-3′ to the ‘Ice Bowl’ to ‘The Drive’
Cricket1 day ago
Women’s World Cup Qualifier 2021-22 in Zimbabwe called off following concerns over new Covid-19 variant
Cricket3 days ago
New Covid-19 variant threatens to upset South Africa’s international cricket schedule
NBA5 days ago
Short-handed Philadelphia 76ers spoil Alvin Gentry’s debut as interim head coach of Sacramento Kings
NBA6 days ago
Lakers credit Carmelo Anthony for sparking post-tussle comeback vs. Pistons
NFL4 days ago
Minnesota Vikings DE Everson Griffen leaves home, getting care
Cricket5 days ago
WBBL round-up – Alana King reigns supreme as Sydney Sixers finish bottom for first time
MLB1 day ago
Wander Franco finalizes $182 million, 11-year contract in ‘great day’ for Tampa Bay Rays