18/04/2024

Laura Harris was instrumental to the Brisbane Heat's 44-run victory against the Hobart Hurricanes in The Eliminator. (Photo: @HeatBBL Twitter)

It was a tale of two power surges in the high-stakes WBBL|08 Eliminator as the Heat cashed in on a blistering Laura Harris innings to edge a step closer to their third WBBL title.

In a contest that was filled with momentum swings, there were several players from both outfits who threatened to be match winners. However, it was ultimately an imposing batting display from Harris that proved to be the difference in a see-sawing affair at Karen Rolton Oval.

Following a middle-order collapse that saw the Heat lose three wickets in the space of 11 deliveries, Harris quickly set about keeping the Heat in the ascendancy, taking full advantage of the power surge overs.

It’s a role that the 32-year-old has fully embraced in WBBL|08, utilising her 360-degree hitting to exploit field restrictions. Only just over a fortnight ago, the Hurricanes bore the full brunt of Harris’ destructive power, with the middle-order batter blasting 68 runs off 29 balls. 

She delivered in spades once again under the pressure of finals, this time playing a major role in the Heat accumulating a whopping 36 runs off their allotted two power surge overs. At one stage, Harris even appeared on track to eclipse Tess Flintoff’s record for the fastest WBBL half-century. 

The Heat veteran eventually came unstuck in the 15th over, departing the crease having amassed 44 runs (six fours and three sixes) off just 14 deliveries. For the Heat, Harris’ efforts provided the necessary launching pad to post a record WBBL finals total of 7-179 off their 20 overs, a task which proved too steep for the Hurricanes, who fell 44 runs short in reply. 

Unlike their opposition, the Hurricanes weren’t able to capitalise on the power surge during their run chase. Instead, it brought about the dismissal of Lizelle Lee, with the 30-year-old undone by right-arm seamer Courtney Sippel for a well-constructed 47 runs. 

This prized scalp shifted the odds heavily in the favour of the Heat, with only 13 runs coming from the Hurricanes’ power surge overs. What followed was a flurry of wickets, seeing Ashley Noffke’s troops comfortably book themselves a date with the Adelaide Strikers in The Challenger. 

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Danni Wyatt sets the tone

As the Heat was sent into bat by Elyse Villani, many eyes turned to the returning Georgia Redmayne at the top of the innings. However, it was English import Danni Wyatt who took control of the early proceedings, crafting a game-high 52 runs off 38 balls to establish the foundation for a hefty first-innings total from the Heat.

Wyatt swiftly asserted herself on the contest, maximising the powerplay to find the boundary rope on a regular basis. The 31-year-old got a hold of Molly Strano in particular, targeting a vacant offside to carve the ball through and over the inner circle with controlled aggression.

Its performances of this nature which offer a reminder of the world-class quality Wyatt possesses. She now has nine WBBL fifties to her name and finds herself amid a rich vein of form. 

Young spinners shine

Following a strong start from the Heat and its top order, exciting Hurricanes leg-spinner Amy Smith single-handedly dragged her team back into the contest. 

Having been given the ball by Elyse Villani ahead of the ninth over, Smith quickly executed her plans to perfection, dismissing the set Wyatt with her second delivery of the match. Four balls later and the 18-year-old trapped the dangerous Grace Harris on the crease, leaving the Heat positioned at 3-77 at the halfway mark. 

A testament to her consistency and control, Smith was then entrusted with bowling at the death, a role which she performed economically. The right-arm leg-spinner ultimately finished with figures of 3-21 off four overs in what was an eye-catching display in her maiden WBBL finals appearance.

From a Brisbane Heat perspective, youngster Charli Knott was impactful with the bat, ball, and in the field. A late cameo of 23 runs off 16 balls during her side’s batting innings propelled the Heat to an insurmountable total. 

Meanwhile, a solid piece of fielding executed by Knott gave the Heat a much-needed breakthrough. With the Hurricanes cruising at 0-61, Knott calmly gathered the ball at backward point and proceeded to throw to the bowler’s end where Villani was found short of her ground.

On the bowling front, the 19-year-old was tidy and methodical. She conceded only two runs off her first over, before going on to remove Nicola Carey with a ball that cannoned into the Hurricanes all-rounder’s leg-stump. 

Sloppy fielding doesn’t come back to bite

Finals always bring a degree of tension and nervousness, traits which seemed to show in some of the fielding efforts of the Heat line-up. 

The early overs resulted in multiple misfields, with both boundary riders and ring fielders allowing the ball to leak pass them and gift the Hurricanes countless runs. Catching opportunities were also put down, likely leaving the Brisbane Heat coaching staff frustrated.

Whilst this scrappy fielding didn’t have any bearing on the final outcome, the Heat will undoubtedly be looking to tidy up this area in time for their clash with the Adelaide Strikers. 

Jess Jonassen moves to equal top spot

A four-wicket haul from Heat skipper Jess Jonassen means that she joins Molly Strano with the equal-most amount of WBBL wickets (137) in the competition’s history.

Jonassen sealed her side’s Challenger berth, collecting figures of 4-23 off four overs. The left-arm orthodox spinner manufactured the vital dismissal of the in-form Mignon du Preez, before accounting for Ruth Johnston, Hayley Jensen, and Maisy Gibson.

Jonassen now boasts a tally of 24 wickets for WBBL|08, one ahead of the next best in Megan Schutt.

The Brisbane Heat will now prepare to face the Adelaide Strikers in The Challenger at Karen Rolton Oval on Thursday night.

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