Match Preview – Strikers vs Heat, WBBL 2023/24, Final

Big picture: Heat’s power verses Strikers’ economy

Adelaide Strikers will aim for back-to-back WBBL titles in front of what they hope will be a record crowd when they face Brisbane Heat at Adelaide Oval.

In recent times, there has been a bit of needle between the teams, with Megan Schutt last year branding Heat’s style of cricket a “bit arrogant” ahead of the Challenger final, which Strikers won, but this will be a fascinating match-up even away from chirping.

This year’s final pits together the team with the highest batting run rate (Heat at 8.42) and the side with the most frugal economy (Strikers at 6.47).

Strikes have been, without doubt, the team of the regular season, stringing together 11 victories to leave daylight to second place. Heat, meanwhile, had to reach the final the hard way after three defeats towards the end of the round-robin phase. However, in the space of 24 hours, they produced two superb performances to overturn Sydney Thunder and Perth Scorchers in the qualifying finals.

Four Heat batters have more than 300 runs for the season and they have arguably the biggest X-factor player of the competition in Grace Harris, who holds a strike rate of 171.12. Jess Jonassen has once again led the way with the ball as part of a strong spin attack alongside Amelia Kerr, breakout star Charli Knott and Georgia Voll.

Strikers’ batting has been underpinned by Katie Mack with 449 runs – interestingly compiled without a single six. In a timely run to the finals, Laura Wolvaardt, crucially available before taking up the South Africa captaincy, has found close to her best form.

Their bowling attack is varied with the dual legspin of Amanda-Jade Wellington and Anesu Mushangwe having been a key part of it. In a sign of the team’s consistency, they have only used 13 players through the regular season. A legacy beckons if they can win on Saturday.

Form guide

(Last five completed matches, most recent first)
Adelaide Strikers WWWWW
Brisbane Heat LLLWW

In the spotlight: Darcie Brown and Grace Harris

A hamstring injury picked up against West Indies put paid to the majority of Darcie Brown‘s season, but she has had an impact on her return with four wickets in two games including a Player-of-the-Match 3 for 18 against Scorchers to secure a home final. “I’m maybe five or so metres back further than any of our other bowlers,” Bridget Patterson told ESPNcricinfo about keeping to Brown. “On Adelaide Oval, it felt quick for sure, I was probably a couple of metres off the ring. Darcie’s been a great inclusion. I’m glad we’ve had her for the important games at the end of the season.”

It won’t always come off, but Grace Harris is the type of player who can win a final off her own bat. She had a huge impact in the qualifying finals with scores of 45 and 54 having been somewhat up and down following her record-breaking 136 off 59 balls at North Sydney Oval early in the season. “I’m a strike-rate batter… [aim to] strike at 180-200,” she said after the Challenger final. “You will be inconsistent, but happy to own that role. We want to play an aggressive brand of cricket. It’s about scoring shots and not getting worried about getting out.”

Team news: England players absent

While Strikers have Wolvaardt, England allrounder Dani Gibson has left for their tour of India, which could be a significant hole in the middle order. Gibson struck at 147.43 with the bat and claimed ten wickets. Brown, who was rested for the final regular-season game, will come back in although that leaves a longer tail.

Adelaide Strikers (probable): 1 Katie Mack, 2 Laura Wolvaardt, 3 Tahlia McGrath (capt), 4 Bridget Patterson (wk) 5 Madeline Penna, 6 Georgia Adams, 7 Jemma Barsby, 8 Amanda-Jade Wellington, 9 Darcie Brown, 10 Megan Schutt, 11 Anesu Mushangwe

Amelia Kerr is available for Heat before heading back to New Zealand for international duty, but like Strikers, they have lost England batter Bess Heath. Mikayla Hinkley will be the likely replacement.

Brisbane Heat (probable): 1 Georgia Redmayne (wk), 2 Grace Harris, 3 Amelia Kerr, 4 Mignon du Preez, 5 Laura Harris, 6 Charli Knott, 7 Mikayla Hinkley, 8 Jess Jonassen (capt), 9 Georgia Voll, 10 Nicola Hancock, 11 Courtney Sippel

Pitch and conditions

Adelaide Oval usually produces good pitches for T20s. The scores weren’t huge during the stadium round last week with Heat’s 160 for 8 against Thunder the highest. Scorchers were bundled out for 104 by Strikers. The forecast is for a mild day although it will be cooler by the evening.

Stats and trivia

  • Bridget Patterson is one stumping away from equalling the WBBL season record of 13
  • Brisbane Heat have been in finals for six consecutive seasons and were back-to-back champions in 2018-19 and 2019-2020
  • Quotes

    “Every time we play each other it comes down to the wire. I’ve seen a lot of… they’ve got the best batting attack and we’ve got the best bowling attack and we are excited for the challenge. There’s a bit of extra spice but it’s all fun and games.”
    Adelaide Strikers captain Tahlia McGrath

    “We do have the confidence and if that’s perceived as something else then so be it. We back the style of play that we have, we believe in that, and ultimately that’s what it comes down to, we are really clear as a team what we are about.”
    Brisbane Heat captain Jess Jonassen

    Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

    #Match #Preview #Strikers #Heat #WBBL #Final

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