NAOMI Stalenberg hit 48 to help guide the Sydney Thunder to bragging rights over rivals the Sydney Sixers, with the team in green winning by four wickets at the SCG on Saturday.
Though she fell two runs short of a half-century, Stalenberg made her highest score of the Women’s Big Bash – an achievement made that much sweeter because it came against the Sixers.
“It was good to get the win on the board, just unfortunate not to finish it off,” Stalenberg said. “But I was just happy to get the runs on the board for the team and get the win.”
Despite not having enough runs to defend, leading wicket-taker Sarah Aley ensured the match went down to the wire by claiming three wickets for just 11 runs. But the Sixers knew their total of 113 wasn’t nearly enough and Aley says they will have to have a look at their batting performance.
“That’s obviously the area we need to work on,” she said. “Our bowling, we fought really hard, there were a couple of areas in the fielding we need to fix up, but the good thing is it wasn’t our last game – we’ve still got five to go and we can really sharpen up our skills.
“The ball came out well. It’s a nice wicket for me, if I could roll it up and take it everywhere with me I would.”
There was some drama at the SCG before the match even started when players were forced off the field during their warm-up and the start of the game delayed. The cause was a metal sheet of roofing on the Bradman Stand that came off under some heavy winds. Fortunately, the gates hadn’t opened yet and so there were no fans in the stadium at the time.
An hour later than scheduled, the Sixers opened their batting and stuttered to their total of 113.
Sam Bates struck in the second over to remove Alyssa Healy and wickets fell regularly throughout the innings. Ellyse Perry (25) and Sara McGlashan (23) offered some resistance, but not enough to prevent a collapse.
Bates ended with figures of 3-21 and she was well supported by Belinda Vakarewa, who claimed two wickets for just 10 runs. The Thunder were equally impressive in the field, with Alex Blackwell running out Marizanne Kapp and Stalenberg with a superb catch to dismiss Ashleigh Gardner.
But with the quality of the Sixers’ bowling attack it was never going to be a straightforward chase for the Thunder. And it got off to the worst possible start when the superb Kapp bowled Rachel Priest with just the second ball of the innings.
Aley then got the big wickets of Alex Blackwell and Rachel Haynes, before Harmanpreet Kaur showed her quality. The Indian all-rounder hit two sixes and two boundaries, before an excellent catch by Dane van Niekerk on the boundary saw her dismissed for 27. That left Stalenberg to carry the innings and she played superbly for her 48 runs, but it was Aley who had her bowled just two runs short of a half-century.
It looked like the match would go down to the wire in the final over, but Stafanie Taylor eased the pressure by hitting a boundary and hit a quick single to seal the win with six balls to spare.
The result leaves the Thunder comfortable at the top of the WBBL table, while the Sixers have dropped behind the Adelaide Strikers and Brisbane Heat.