21/02/2024

Tahlia McGrath and Jess Jonassen with the prize on offer this Saturday night (Photo: cricket.com.au)

Jess Jonassen’s Brisbane Heat go into Saturday night’s WBBL final as underdogs, but don’t expect her to be overawed by the prospect of playing the competition-leading Adelaide Strikers on their own patch.

The Heat have resembled the Leyland Brothers with the amount of travel they have done in recent times, leaving their home state to play two qualifying matches in Perth, before coming back to Adelaide for the final. Jonassen, however, feels that this has worked to her team’s advantage given the weather in the west has been more favourable than that on the eastern seaboard.

“We’re getting some really good momentum at an ideal and opportunistic time,” she said, as she reflected upon the final week of the Heat’s campaign.

“We’ve had some really tight contests over a number of years [against the Strikers], and I’m not expecting tomorrow to be any different.”

The final shapes as a contest between the best batting side (Brisbane with a run-rate of 8.42 runs per over), and the pre-eminent bowling unit (Adelaide conceding 6.47 per over). Whilst this gives an impression of the strengths of both sides, none of this will matter once the first ball is bowled on Saturday.

“Every time we play each other it goes down to the wire. They’ve got the best batting, we’ve got the best bowling attack, and we’re excited for that challenge,” Adelaide captain, Tahlia McGrath, said.

“It’s really exciting. It’s such a tough competition; a lot of travel, a lot of games. So to be at the final game at home, we’re really excited. We can’t wait and hopefully a really big crowd turns up and gets behind us.”

Darcie Brown will return for the Strikers, adding an element of raw speed to their attack to compliment the swing of Megan Schutt, the canny medium pace of McGrath and a plethora of spin options led by the mercurial Amanda-Jade Wellington. McGrath has immense belief in her attack.  

“We have match-ups for all batters because we cover every base,” she said.

Jonassen, on the other hand, is confident that she has the combination behind her that can counter any threat that the Strikers can mount.

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“We really pride ourselves on the depth of our line-up, and we’ve sort of shown that with the amount of 150-plus scores we’ve done this season. I think it’s up to 11 now, and I think a total of above that will be needed tomorrow”.

Jonassen had particular praise for her secret weapon, off-spinner Georgia Voll, who took four wickets in Wednesday’s challenger against the Perth Scorchers.

Voll had, in past seasons, been selected as a batter that bowled occasionally, and indeed she doubled her career wicket tally on Wednesday night. Jonassen knew what the youngster was capable of.

“It was always on the cards that she was going to have an impact with the ball. It was just a matter of when,” she said.

Voll, Jonassen (23 wickets), and an attack also boasting the likes of wily seamer Nicola Hancock and star New Zealand all-rounder Amelia Kerr will be pitted against a strong Strikers batting order. Led by Katie Mack (449 runs in the tournament) and South African captain Laura Wolvaardt (265 runs), Brisbane will have their work cut out for them.

The Heat will look to fight the fire of Brown and Schutt with fire of their own, chiefly from the Harris sisters (Laura with a tournament strike rate of 220 runs per 100 balls, and Grace with a strike rate of 171.12). Jonassen is confident in the ability of whoever is selected to do the job, and boasts a batting side with very few passengers.

“We back the style of play that we have. We believe in that and we back that and ultimately that’s what it comes down to,” she said.

“We do have the confidence and if that’s perceived as something else then so be it.”

McGrath believes tomorrow’s clash should be even and entertaining.

“There’s a huge amount of respect between both sides. They’re the same as our team: once you stop one of them there’s a whole line-up to come, so it’s going to be a really great contest.”

The WBBL|09 Final will take place at Adelaide Oval on Saturday night.

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