The superstar Kiwi allrounder, who reached her third successive WBBL half-century from 49 balls in the 19th over, left the best till last as she took to Stars spinner Madeline Penna, who had claimed three wickets in her first three overs.
After Katie Mack took a single from the opening ball of the final over, the Strikers hoping they might edge towards a 150 total, Devine unleashed.
She crunched a full-toss over square-leg for six, then hammered a towering straight six. She then heaved one that went way, way back over mid-wicket. As if that wasn’t enough, Devine finished off with a huge six over mid-off and another clean hit over the mid-wicket boundary.
The 31 runs off the final over from Penna was a WBBL record - the previous best was 27 - while no player had previously hit more than three sixes off successive balls in the competition. Sydney Sixers superstar Ashleigh Gardner had hit three in a row - incredibly off the bowling of Devine. It was a record Devine was glad to lose.
Saturday’s shattering two-run, last-ball loss at the hands of Perth Scorchers was all but forgotten as a Strikers WBBL record 1569 crowd at Karen Rolton Oval celebrated a champagne performance from Devine and crucial win that saw the Strikers leap to the top of the table. Adelaide has a 5-3 win-loss record, while Sydney Thunder is second with four wins, two losses and a no-result. In an extremely tight race to the finals, Brisbane Heat is third with a 4-3 record, Melbourne Renegades are on four wins and four losses, Sydney Sixers are at 4-2 and Perth Scorchers 4-3. The Stars are at the foot of the table with a 1-6 record.
Devine had not been happy with her scoring rate until the final over, struggling at times to pierce the field but, most importantly, she was still out there - ready for a final assault. “I felt stuff this, it’s time to remove the shackles,” she said after her phenomenal performance.
Devine surged from her half-century in the 19th over to finish on an incredible 85 not out from 56 balls as the Strikers posted 4/164. Devine, who has hit more sixes than any other player in WBBL history, started the season with four sixes in each of her first two innings - 72 not out and 48 against Melbourne Renegades. But she had not hit a six in her previous five innings, even though she had made 65 and 58 in her previous knocks. Devine now has hit 72 WBBL sixes in her remarkable career. The fifth-highest runscorer in the competition’s history - with 1740 runs at 34 per innings and a strikerate of 130 - Devine’s milestones kept coming as she claimed her 50th WBBL wicket as the Stars made a valiant chase but finished on 8/147. She claimed outstanding figures of 2/19 off four overs, hardly a surprise choice as player-of-the-match.
The inspirational Devine again was sporting plenty of blue zinc across her face on the weekend she launched her Zinc Challenge. Last year her Headband Challenge captured the imagination of WBBL players and supporters alike as she raised $15,000 for various charities and this year she is setting her sights even higher. She has challenged players from opposing teams to smother their faces in team colours, the selfless Kiwi superstar to donate $100 to the charity of their choice. There were plenty of players from both sides showing their true colours on Sunday - and putting their hands into their own pockets to help out.
“In the last over we had wickets in the shed, so I knew I could free the arms a bit,” Devine said. “It had been a bit of a dry run with sixes. (With five balls remaining) I was thinking I can swing here and I hope that it comes off. I said to Katie, ‘I’m just going to go here’ … to be fair I was trying to do that in the overs before but it just wasn’t coming off. On a different day, one of those goes to hand and it’s a completely different story. But today it was my day.”
It certainly was that but as always Devine was more interested in her team’s success and the contributions of her team-mates.
“It wasn’t going my way early in the innings but I was fortunate to have partners out there who were helping me along and getting me there to be able to finish off the way I did,” she said. “It was really pleasing how the whole team performed today and what’s really pleasing for us is different players are standing up on different days, whether it’s bowlers, batters or in the field.”
Devine paid credit to Mack for her outstanding catch at deep backward square-leg to remove Stars danger player Lizelle Lee, who had thumped 52 from 41 balls with three sixes. “There was a lot of pressure and if that catch goes down, it’s a different game,” Devine said. And she was delighted how leg-spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington, who had been hit for 15 from her second over and taken from the attack, came back to play a key part in the Strikers holding out the Stars’ late charge.
Lee and fellow South African Mignon du Preez had suddenly put the pressure right back on the Strikers by bringing up a century partnership from just 73 balls. But, with Lee gone, it was up to du Preez, who made 70 from 51 balls with 11 boundaries, to try to lift the Stars to an unlikely win.
But Wellington, given the backing of skipper Sophie Bates in the last five overs, bounced back with a beautifully flighted leg-spinner to dismiss Erin Osborne caught-and-bowled for a golden duck. She all but ensured a crucial Strikers win when she had du Preez brilliantly stumped by keeper Tegan McPharlin. And it was more of the same the next ball when Penna was stumped for a golden duck. Wellington finished with 3/31 to show what she is made of.
It was a fitting climax to a record-breaking day.
“The great thing about this competition is records are being broken all the time,” Devine said. “Ellyse Perry and Alyssa Healy broke the partnership record last week (with an unbroken 199-run opening stand for Sydney Strikers) and that’s the thing about this comp and women’s cricket in general, records are being broken, ceilings are being smashed through … it’s a great comp to be involved in.”
Devine, who loves playing on Karen Rolton Oval, is not the player you want to put down early in the innings. Well the Stars’ du Preez dropped her twice in two overs - in the gully, a difficult chance overhead from Holly Ferling on one and at point off talented speedster Annabel Sutherland when she was just four. This one was a straightforward one, so much so Devine started walking!
Bates, who scored her 1000th run for the Strikers on Saturday in the two-run loss to Perth Scorchers - she is now up to 1566 including her runs with the Scorchers - took up the attack after the Stars’ opening bowlers had been economical early - Ferling even bowling a maiden to Devine. Bates charged down the wicket to Sutherland, an attempted hook flying for four over the keeper, then a perfectly-executed pull flying to the mid-wicket boundary.
Bates thumped Nicola Hancock for two fours in three balls with a crashing off-drive over the infield followed by a classic square drive. She also showed she could improvise as she pulled out a reverse sweep for a boundary from off-spinner Osborne. The Strikers skipper, out in the twenties three times this campaign, looked set for a big score as she reached 36. But she thumped Osborne straight to mid-wicket. This time, du Preez held on to the chance.
Talented allrounder Tahlia McGrath’s 24th birthday did not end up in the on-field celebration she was hoping for when she fell to Penna for 19 from 16 balls. But she was able to party on after an unforgettable day for the Strikers, Sophie Devine and the WBBL.
The Strikers complete their head-to-head battles with Melbourne Stars when they head to Nuriootpa next Saturday for their clash at Centennial Park Oval.