Sydney Sixers WBBL|07

The Sydney Sixers fell to the Melbourne Renegades. (Photo: Cricket Australia)

The Sydney Sixers suffered their third defeat of WBBL|07, coming undone in their run chase but the club found handy contributions from unlikely players.

The Sydney Sixers may have suffered their third loss of WBBL|07, although, amongst the chaos of their run chase, local talent made themselves known with impressive showings with both bat and ball.

Falling to the Melbourne Renegades by 12 runs in the first game at Lilac Hill – and the first WBBL|07 game in Western Australia – of this campaign, the Sixers unleashed a new top order pairing, but one that carried some serious weight. Ellyse Perry joined regular opener Alyssa Healy at the crease to begin the Sixers’ run chase.

While Healy (one off four) couldn’t get going, Perry continued to show fight, the move to become one of the opening batters working well for the Sixers, as the veteran cruised to a run-a-ball 28.

Speaking to media post-game, Sixers assistant coach Gavan Twining said the move to elevate Perry to walk out alongside Healy was made with the conditions of the pitch in mind, as well as the need to get off to a good start against the Renegades’ bowling unit.

“The group’s talked, right from the start, about being a little bit flexible with the batting order because we’ve felt in the past that it’s been sort of very one-dimensional,” he said.

“Part of that was looking at different conditions that you go to, so we felt that with the quicker pitches over here in Perth, someone like Ellyse and Alyssa have had real good success over here in the past and using the pace of the wicket and the pitches.”

The other major part of the lineup’s reshuffle was Indian import Shefali Verma, whose hitting ability around all areas of the ground helped the Sixers late, despite eventually falling for 20 runs off 15 balls. After scoring a half century in her second game of her WBBL career against the Hurricanes, Verma had struggled in her past two outings, scoring a duck each time.

“With today, especially with the Renegades taking a bit of pace off the ball, that Shefali’s ability to use her hands and her hand-speed to either hit the ball over the boundary, obviously hit the ball hard through the field to hit fours, that was big,” Twining said.

“I know the girls want to be really flexible about what they do, who goes in at different times and sort of playing to the conditions and the opponent as well.”

The Sixers were, in their batting innings, brought down by a lack of communication and running between the wickets, with four batters falling victim to the run out – Ash Gardner (four of four), Nicole Bolton (nine off 13), Claire Moore (one off three) and Lauren Cheatle (14 off nine).

The Renegades kept tight in the field although the Sixers seemed to respond to this late, attempting runs in situations where their opponents were in control of the ball, or recovered well to throw to the stumps from the field. It was a problem that Twining said the side spoke about in the changerooms, identifying a need to be more focused at the crease to prevent repeat mistakes.

“It’s not ideal to have four [runouts], obviously Nicole Bolton and Ash Gardner, two really good players at the top of the order get runout, it always puts you in a little bit of a hole,” he confessed.

“The girls talked after the game when Ben [Sawyer] addressed them, just felt that their sharpness was off a little bit today and the thinking process more than anything. That sort of meant that there was jogging the first [run] instead of pushing the first run hard.

“I think it’s more attitude and that sharpness more so…, they know it’s there, it’s just [about] being sharp and being aware of what’s going on when they walk over that rope.”

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Within the chaos of the entire contest, the Sixers were able to see others step up in place of the usual suspects and on the batting front, that was first-year player Maitlan Brown. In her debut season in magenta after her offseason move from the Renegades, Brown was the batter to top score, hitting 31 runs from 20 balls that included finding the rope for four a total of four times throughout the innings.

“Maitlin Brown, she’s always said that she can bat and she’s a genuine allrounder so it was great to actually see her go out there,” Twining said.

“To her credit, she practiced a lot of those things yesterday at training. To see her pull that off today, I think that was just a little snippet of what she’s capable of with the bat.”

On the bowling front, the Sixers found Lauren Cheatle more than capable with the ball, coming back into the squad after an extended run of injuries. Although this was her 44th Women’s Big Bash game, the fast bowler started the match off right for Sydney, finishing with a maiden over – her first since WBBL|01.

“Long-time injured over the last two or three years, [she] has worked really hard throughout the pre-season to get to a point where she could start playing,” Twining said of Cheatle.

“It was great for her to play her first game in Launceston and then I think you saw her a lot better today, obviously with the ball, and running in a little bit harder and we expect that will get better and better each time that she bowls.”

Looking to the next set of matches for the Sixers, the side remains in Perth for a further two games – one at Lilac Hill tomorrow against the Scorchers, and against the Hurricanes at the WACA during the week. Twining is confident the side can bounce back from a three-game losing streak, clarifying the faith is still present within the star-studded squad.

“The girls are still really upbeat, even in the changerooms just after the game,” he said.

“We love getting to Perth. [The girls] were really looking forward to playing on the quicker wickets and being able to use the pace of the quicker pitches.

“As far as what it does for tomorrow, it’s great to have a game on this ground… so we can put in some lessons learnt from the game today about what length to bowl, how we can use the pace of the wicket. We think the pitch will be even better tomorrow… after it’s had a little sun and wind on it today.”

The Sydney Sixers next play against the Perth Scorchers at Lilac Hill in Perth tomorrow from 1:50pm local time.

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