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Strikers retain Faith Thomas Trophy

12 January 2019

The Adelaide Strikers have continued their stunning late-season charge with a convincing 30-run rebel WBBL|04 win against Perth Scorchers in searing heat on Saturday at Albrecht Oval in Alice Springs.

The powerhouse performance saw the Strikers retain the Faith Thomas Trophy, the prize named after the first Aboriginal woman to play Test cricket for Australia.

Opener Sophie Devine top-scored with 59, while Bridget Patterson made a crucial 32 in the Strikers’ 7/138, while Danielle Hazell and Sarah Coyte each snared 3/20 - both featuring two wickets in two balls - and Megan Schutt claimed 2/21 as Perth was bundled out for just 108.

Adelaide’s hopes of the win it needed to stay in the hunt for a semi-final spot were hardly helped by the Scorchers regaining superstar batter Elyse Villani, back from a hamstring injury.

But in the end, the Melbourne Renegades’ last-ball win over Hobart at CitiPower Centre on Saturday afternoon officially ended the Strikers’ late finals charge.

Promising batter Tabatha Saville fittingly was back in the Adelaide line-up. Saville, born in Fiji, moved to Alice Springs at a young age and developed her cricketing talents in the Northern Territory. Pace bowler Sam Betts was omitted.

The Strikers were wearing indigenous shirts designed by South Australian-based artists Mel Agius and Colleen Strangways. The artists’ drawings represented the Strikers making their way from the Kaurna land of Adelaide to Alice Springs, the place of the Arrernte people.

Devine’s outstanding headband challenge continued to pick up momentum with the Strikers donating $100 to charity partner Cancer Council SA and $100 to Diabetes NZ for each player who wore one - and there were plenty. Pace bowler Kate Cross opened the bowling sporting the orange of her Scorchers side on a headband she had tie-dyed herself. She’s likely to keep it, after conceding just 13 from her four overs.

Smash Sisters Devine and Suzie Bates gave the Strikers a solid start by putting on 32 without loss in the power play. Pace bowler Piepa Cleary paid the penalty for dropping short to Bates in her first over, the Strikers skipper clubbing her over the covers and pulling her behind square-leg for boundaries to get the innings up and running.

When Bates thumped Hayley Jensen over long-on for four she looked on but, having reached 22 from 20 balls, she swatted Cleary straight to Bhavi Devchand at mid-off.

Strikers No. 3 Tahlia McGrath had been raising the bar, lifting her WBBL highest score to 45 against Sydney Sixers, then 63 followed by 65 in stunning back-to-back knocks against Hobart Hurricanes. And she showed her intentions against the Scorchers when she drove Heather Graham sweetly over mid-off for a boundary. She was tracking well on 11 when she was beaten in flight by leg-spinner Devchand and stranded, stumped in lightning fashion by keeper Amy Jones.

Devine was taking more time than usual to reach top gear but after crunching Hayley Jensen over square-leg for a typical six, then pulling Devchand for a boundary, she still reached yet another fifty from just 42 balls.

Yet another half-century for Sophie Devine

Bridget Patterson, who this summer has broken through for her first WBBL half-century, was typically busy from the start and she drove Devchand over mid-off for four. A fierce pull over mid-wicket from a short Cleary ball cleared the ropes by metres.

Devine’s three previous half-centuries this season had been 89, 95 and an unbeaten 99, so the Strikers were hoping she would go big again. But, in attempting to go big off spinner Emma King, she skewed a drive into the covers, where Meg Lanning leapt for an outstanding overhead mark. Devine had made 59 from 48 balls with four fours and a six.

Patterson lifted the Strikers’ total with a remarkable swat over mid-off for six from Jensen. And she crunched Graham over mid-wicket for another six but she was unlucky to be brilliantly caught by Kate Cross right on the ropes attempting another one. But her cameo of 32 from 26 balls had given the Strikers plenty of hope.

Australia’s World T20-winning skipper Lanning had been in outstanding touch for Perth, having recorded four WBBL scores in the seventies since returning from a back injury. But Strikers pace ace Schutt, back at her best with 3/21 against Hobart on Wednesday, had Lanning inside-edging an inswinger to get off the mark, then drew her into a false drive with a leg-cutter, well caught in the covers by Bates.

Villani was struggling with her hamstring problem and looked to stand and deliver, thumping Coyte over mid-off for two boundaries. But Devine came on and immediately ended Villani’s innings by bowling her off her pads for 13.

Leg-spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington became involved when she had Chloe Piparo (four) stumped in lightning fashion by Tegan McPharlin and the Scorchers were 3/33 after the power play. When off-spinner Hazell went straight through English compatriot Jones to bowl her for 14 the Strikers were well on top.

Heather Graham (nine) was caught by Saville at square-leg from Coyte but former Striker Lauren Ebsary kept the Scorchers’ hopes alive with 10 from two balls from McGrath. And she also hit Wellington for a six and a four over mid-on to lift Perth to 5/90 from 14 overs - Adelaide was 2/92 at the same stage.

Hazell does it all

Schutt returned to the bowling crease to try to slow the Scorchers’ charge and bowled Cross (five) middle stump. When Saville chipped in for her second catch at square-leg to dismiss Ebsary from Hazell the win was as good as the Strikers’. Ebsary had made 38 from 30 balls. And Hazell made it two wickets in two balls when she took a diving caught-and-bowled to dismiss Jensen (five).

Coyte clean bowled the last two batters, Devchand and Cleary, to put an exclamation mark on an emphatic Strikers performance that saw them again rewarded with the Faith Thomas Trophy.