Brisbane Heat allrounder Nicola Hancock was a shining factor in The Eliminator final of WBBL|07, though the resulting eight-wicket loss to the Adelaide Strikers has brought an end to her side’s season.
Coming into the middle with her side sitting 7/52 after 11.4 overs having lost 3/5 following the halfway point of the match, Hancock ensured the Heat were able to set a competitive total by the end of their innings.
Throughout her late-innings cameo of 40 off 26 which included six fours and a six, Hancock finished with the highest-ever score by a number nine in WBBL history – and her highest-ever WBBL total eclipsing her 26* from WBBL|05.
Hancock got off the mark with a single from the first ball she faced against Darcie Brown, looking to rotate the strike with Nadine de Klerk before she got a hold of a Sarah Coyte ball that had a hint of width, cutting through point to the boundary.
She targeted Tahlia McGrath in the 16th over, finding the rope twice with a four back down the ground, and a six that cleared the rope at deep midwicket. Hancock hit back-to-back fours to long-on and through cover the following Megan Schutt over to have her score continuing along.
The 26-year-old would score two more fours before her eventual demise, connecting well and hard but holing out to Schutt at long-on, taking a diving catch towards the turf.
After helping the Heat to a total of 8/114, Hancock was tasked with the ball to bowl the first over of the second innings, and continued to give her side a fighting chance, finishing with a maiden.
Her second over of the night didn’t produce anywhere near the same result, conceding 11 runs as Katie Mack and Dane van Niekirk began to take control. The latter however, fell victim to a top-edge that was safely caught by de Klerk.
Hancock’s third over yielded nine runs from it as the partnership of Katie Mack and Strikers captain Tahlia McGrath was beginning to grow and take shape. The medium pacer would be the bowler to give up the winning runs off the bat of Mack – which also brought up her half century – in the 17th over, slapping the ball over the fielder at mid-off for four.
Elsewhere, Poonan Yadav came into the attack in the eighth over, hoping to steady the flow of runs, and to effect as she picked up the wicket of Laura Wolvaardt LBW, the batter backing onto the stumps and unable to make contact with the bat as the ball rocketed onto her pad.
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Speaking to media post-game, Brisbane Heat captain Jess Jonassen labelled the final result as a blow to their season.
“It’s obviously very disappointing, not the way that we would’ve liked to have finished our season,” Jonassen said.
“Unfortunately we just didn’t have the answers that were required throughout that time, the wicket was sort of on the slower side particularly early with the newer ball but we just didn’t adapt quick enough.
“To the Strikers credit, they were able to get the ball in the right areas more often than not tonight.”
Undoubtedly outdone by Strikers leg-spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington claiming the best bowling figures in WBBL history with her 5/8, including the scalp of the Heat captain, Jonassen was forced to admit that she and the team needed to have back-up plans to combat a destructive spell of bowling.
“I think that we could’ve potentially been a little more proactive, so whenever we came down the wicket, making sure we went to the line of the ball a little bit better,” she confessed.
“But I think in saying that, [Amanda-Jade Wellington] did bowl really well and I mean, you don’t take 5-8 if you don’t bowl well.”
Touching on the inspirational cameo from Hancock towards the end of the innings, Jonassen was pleased that the second-year Heat bowler was able to give the side a fighting chance, and into a better position than the squad might’ve originally thought.
“I think it was really vital, that innings, it sort of pushed a little bit of momentum into our favour which, for the most part, it was in the Strikers camp,” she detailed.
“We sort of thought that getting up to around that 115 mark from the position we were in was a really good opportunity and a really good effort from both [Nicola] and Nadine.
“I thought we started reasonably well, obviously they’ve got world-class bowlers [as] their opening bowlers and it was just out of the powerplay there that we sort of just lost our way a little bit.
“We sort of thought from there that anything around that 130 would’ve been a really good get and Nicola Hancock and Nadine de Klerk gave us a really good shot at that.
“We knew then that if we started well with the ball and took a few wickets early that anything can happen, finals are really funny when there’s runs on the board.
“To start with a maiden was exceptional and it’s just a shame we couldn’t get those early breakthroughs or those consistent breakthroughs that they seemed to get in our batting innings.”
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