Brisbane Heat embracing finals challenge in enemy territory

Jess Jonassen
Jess Jonassen has led the way for her side, named in the Team of the Season for her 21 wickets, and now she's ready to help the Brisbane Heat find Finals success in Adelaide. (Image: Jess Jonassen/Twitter)

Leading wicket-taker for WBBL|07 and Brisbane Heat captain Jess Jonassen says the team is excited about the upcoming finals series. They’re more than ready to embrace the challenge of playing at the Strikers’ home deck in Adelaide on Wednesday night.

The Heat have played themselves into some nice form on the final weekend of the tournament, and will be looking to take it through at Adelaide Oval in The Eliminator.

“I think for us as a group, it was really positive that we were able to finish the regular season with a win against the Renegades back home in Mackay,” Jonassen told media on Monday afternoon.

“It’s now, with the new structure of the finals, it’s going to be a little bit different. The girls are really looking forward to the challenge and hopefully we’ve got three more games left in us.”

Despite finishing third, the Heat had no say in where their first final would be held.

The turnaround between The Eliminator and The Challenger matches means the two must be played at the same location, and with the Renegades earning the right to choose the location for their ‘home’ Challenger Final, Adelaide Oval became the venue for the week. 

However, the Heat are taking this in their stride, seeing it as a great opportunity to play at a world class venue in front of a small but mighty contingent of teal in the sea of blue.

The side played at the venue earlier in the month, where they won by five wickets against the Sydney Thunder after chasing down the 143 run total in the nineteenth over.

Poonam Yadav took three wickets that day, but Georgia Redmayne pipped her for the Player of the Match honours after she smashed a half-century to get the Heat within reach of a win.

Jonassen commented that Adelaide Oval, which was glistening behind her on a sunny Spring day in Adelaide, is a “very beautiful part of the world to play cricket in”.

“I think we had a really good experience with the game against the Thunder early in the regular season, so we’ll look back on that. It’s a venue that we’ve played at before, which is also pleasing.”

The decision to play the first two WBBL finals at Adelaide Oval meant the Sheffield Shield match between South Australia and Queensland, also scheduled for this week, was moved to Karen Rolton Oval. 

Cricket Australia prioritised the WBBL finals, returning them to two of the best grounds in the country. 

“Everybody has grown up watching a lot of the men’s games on TV and some of these iconic venues such as Adelaide Oval,” Jonassen said.

“I think both Karen Rolton and Adelaide Oval add different elements to it, and hopefully we can get a big crowd out here – I think it’s probably a good thing for us that we will be playing against the Strikers so there will be a really good atmosphere.

“You can use that to your advantage if you are the away side or not the favourite, in a way… use it to fuel that drive to want to come out on top.”

Third title for the experienced Heat?

The Heat are the only side in this finals series who have won a WBBL title, and with two finals wins in Adelaide they could be contesting for a third on Saturday night in Perth.

Brisbane won the fifth and sixth editions of the competition, with the Sydney sides the only other teams to be crowned champions in the tournament’s seven years.  

The Strikers came close in WBBL|05 but were outplayed by the Heat, and the Scorchers lost two Finals in a row to the Sydney Sixers in WBBL|02 and WBBL|03. The Renegades have never featured in a Final. 

“It’s something that obviously you can draw back on, in the sense that you’ve had those experiences,” Jonassen said. 

“For us, our side for those two titles has been quite consistent that there is only a handful of changes. 

“I think in saying that as well, you’ve got to produce games of cricket in different conditions, against different opposition every season and it’s nice to be able to look back on those experiences and draw on those.”

While each tournament is different, and sides have made personnel changes across the years, the largely consistent Brisbane outfit will be able to draw upon the experience of winning these previous titles throughout week.

“Every season and every game brings up a different challenge and it’s sort of been proven throughout this season that any team that doesn’t fully show up on the day, doesn’t come out on top.

“We know regardless of wherever we play, whoever it’s against, that we need to be on our game from ball one.”

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Jonassen best with the ball

It will only take one wicket in Wednesday evening’s Eliminator for Jonassen to have her outright best WBBL wicket tally for a season. 

So far, she has equalled her WBBL|05 haul of wickets with 21, however, that tournament total included two finals matches and the Heat’s ultimate success as Champions. 

A stress injury to her shin had slowed Jonassen’s pre-season and forced her to miss Australia’s multi-format series with India, but despite the interrupted preparation, Jonassen has found her groove, especially in the latter part of WBBL|07. 

“It’s something I’m incredibly proud of [taking 21 wickets],” she said.

“Obviously coming off the back of an injury in the preseason and missing out on the Australian series leading into this, I was very nervous coming in that I hadn’t played any sort of professional cricket, or any cricket actually, for six months. 

“So, I was a little bit nervous, but I’m really pleased that I put in a lot of hard work and it’s nice to be able to get that reward of the wickets.”

The spinner’s success with the ball has her currently on top of the Golden Arm standings for the season, but she has up to three more games to collect further wickets and help her side to a third WBBL title. 

“I’ve said to a few of our girls, as good as the golden caps are I’d rather be holding a trophy at the end of the season.”

The Brisbane Heat will host the Adelaide Strikers on Wednesday night at Adelaide Oval at 7:10pm AEDT, with the winner to progress in the finals series.

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