Player Thoughts: WBBL’s return to Melbourne

THE Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) returns to Melbourne’s Junction Oval for the first time in about two years this weekend, as the Sydney Sixers, Perth Scorchers and both the Melbourne Stars and Renegades are set to battle it out over the weekend in four tantalising clashes.

Ahead of the monster weekend of clashes, we were lucky enough to chat to a star from each of those four teams and hear their thoughts about the upcoming weekend.

It is fair to say Stars’ skipper Nicole Faltum is excited to be playing games back in Melbourne after not being able to play games at the Stars’ home for a number of years.

“To be back at Junction Oval is really exciting,” Faltum said. It’s been thrown around a lot, but it’s been over 1000 days since we’ve played in front of some home family and friends and our Melbourne based fans, so we’re so excited to get back to Junction Oval and play in front of those guys.”

She also noted how crucial the fact that the next few games for the Stars are at home is in the race for the finals.

“It helps so much when you’re playing at a ground you’re quite familiar with in front of your home family and friends. To have that experience to play at Junction Oval in an actual home game in Melbourne will be really exciting and hopefully helps us to win the next couple of games.”

Renegades star Ella Hayward was also excited at the prospect of finally playing in front of home fans again.

“It’s good to have friends and family come along and it’s just nice to be at home and play in front of home fans and actually put on cricket for the locals,” Hayward said.

With both Melbourne sides set to do battle again on Sunday, Hayward confirmed there is definitely the spice there between the sides, especially because they’re both still battling for those last few finals spots.

“There’s always that extra spice anyways,” she said. It’s always a good battle which is really nice. It’s always really competitive and a great game to play in, we’ve had really close games in the past and I love to play in the Melbourne Derby.”

Hayward is happy with how the year has gone so far for her personally.

“For me it’s been really good, yeah wanting to improve as a cricketer,” she said. Obviously (I’m) still quite young and we’ve got a really great team so to get knowledge from some of the players we’ve got in our team is unreal and a great experience for me, so yeah getting to open the bowling and play that role and learn as a cricketer is really, really good.”

Speaking of the Renegades, regarding her side’s wash out against the Renegades yesterday Sixers star Suzie Bates was “disappointed to not get a result yesterday because of the weather, but we’re pleased with how we’ve been tracking and just excited to play a couple more games. Hopefully the Melbourne weather plays its part, but season’s going well, we’ve got a big couple of weeks at the back end coming up.”

The Sixers face the Scorchers on Sunday and although things not going quite to plan for Bates and her Sixers last time around, that is not deterring them this time around.

“They’ve got a world class lineup and Beth Mooney got the better of us but it has made us look at our plans and work out how to negate the likes of her,” Bates said. But then you’ve still got Sophie Devine and Maddy Green and Marizanne Kapp to come as well, so they’re a world class line up but we know that if we play our best cricket against any of these teams we’re in with a chance.”

Speaking of Green, the fellow Kiwi said that she and the Scorchers were disappointed with how their home fixtures had gone, but were certainly keen to turn things around this weekend.

“(It was) disappointing couple of games back at home at Lilac, but really excited for this weekend, what’s shaping up to be a really important couple of rounds for us,” she said.

“We’ve got a great group and we all get along really well. As I said we haven’t played our best cricket so far, but we’re having a good time and we know our best cricket is still in front of us, so really looking forward to the next couple of games.”

Green also said that it was the little things they needed to fix in order to turn things around.

“I think we came up against a really strong side in the Strikers and the Heat, and we were probably just five percent off in all facets and we just know that we need to be a bit more disciplined, a bit more sharper and a bit more ruthless I think as well so we’re really looking to take the game on this weekend and put some pressure on the opposition,” she said.

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