The Hobart weather put a dampener on proceedings on the opening night of season seven of the Women’s Big Bash League, but the rain relented to allow Elyse Villani put on a show with the bat as the Melbourne Stars opened the season against the Sydney Sixers.
Reduced to an 11 over a side game, the Sixers won the bat flip and sent the Stars into bat, looking to make the most of the conditions and uncertainty of the pitch that had been undercover for most of the day.
Determined to make a positive start after the disappointment of losing the Grand final in WBBL|06, Elyse Villani walked out to bat with a new opening partner Annabel Sutherland as the Stars took advantage of the fielding restrictions and some sloppy bowling and fielding in the early overs.
Villani, who has not featured for Australia for 18 months now has been one of the most in-form batters in the country after dominating at WBBL and WNCL level in 2020/21 sent yet another message to the Australian selectors with an unbeaten 54 off just 31 balls.
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Villani, who now calls Tasmania home, took her namesake Ellyse Perry for 18 runs off a costly final over to help get the Stars total to 1/99 off the allotted 11 overs, displaying a batting stance that resembled a baseball batter.
Speaking on the coverage while Mic’d up in the field, she explained that it was part of the work she had been doing pre-season which saw her reap maximum rewards.
“We’ve actually been doing a bit of power-hitting in Tassie,” Villani said.
“I’ve obviously made the switch this year and Dan Marsh has taken us under his wing as a new project. He felt we didn’t spend enough time as female players working on our power hitting and I totally agree with him. It’s been awesome just to experiment, but I didn’t think I’d get to try it first game.”
As the run rate was climbing, above 9 runs required, 2 loose overs in succession from Kim Garth and Annabel Sutherland allowed Alyssa Healy to smack the ball to all parts of Bellerive Oval, on her way to an impressive half-century (57 off 27) to help the Sixers cruise to a, in the end, comfortable 6 wicket win with 4 balls remaining.
The Stars will be back at Blundstone Arena on Tuesday for their next match where they will meet the Hobart Hurricanes at 1:25pm AEDT.