Thunder crush Stars to win WBBL title


Sydney Thunder players and staff celebrate with the WBBL trophy after beating Melbourne Stars in the final
Sydney Thunder won the inaugural WBBL title in 2015-16 but had not reached the final since
Melbourne Stars 86-9 (20.0 overs): Brunt 22*; Johnson 2-11, Ismail 2-12
Sydney Thunder 87-3 (13.4 overs): Knight 26*, Trenaman 23
Thunder win by seven wickets

Sydney Thunder crushed a poor Melbourne Stars by seven wickets to win the Women’s Big Bash League title.

The Stars elected to bat first but crumbled to 86-9, the lowest ever total in a WBBL final, against a superb Thunder bowling performance.

England captain Heather Knight (26 not out) hit a six to secure victory as she and Rachael Haynes (21 not out) eased their side to 87-3 off just 13.4 overs.

It is the Thunder’s second title, having won the first WBBL in 2015-16.

“I’m so chuffed, what a performance by the bowlers,” said Knight, who joined a largely young Thunder squad from Hobart Hurricanes this season.

“I’ve really enjoyed the move, the team has been awesome and it’s amazing to be a part of the start of their journey.”

The entire WBBL season was played in Sydney because of Covid-19 restrictions, with around 1,600 socially-distanced fans watching the final at the North Sydney Oval.

Knight brings calm in the chase

Knight has proved to be a brilliant signing for a Thunder side that struggled last season.

She finished the tournament with 446 runs, the most by a Thunder player in a single WBBL campaign.

Though the Stars never truly threatened to defend such a low total, Katherine Brunt removed England team-mate Tammy Beaumont for 16 before Rachel Trenaman (23) and Sammy-Jo Johnson (one) fell in quick succession.

But Knight used her experience to calmly accumulate alongside Thunder captain Haynes to make the result all-but safe, before both freed their arms to win the title with 38 balls to spare.

Knight saved the best for last with a towering six down the ground to wrap up a dominant win.

“There was so much belief, so much positivity in our team, I’m just so happy,” said Haynes.

Dismal Stars fail to shine

Sydney Thunder players congratulate Shabnim Ismail (right) for taking a wicket against Melbourne Stars
Shabnim Ismail (right) was named player of the match after a sublime opening spell for Sydney Thunder

Melbourne Stars finished top of the group table and dominated Perth Scorchers in their semi-final but their batting line-up failed to adjust to the pitch after captain Meg Lanning opted to set a total.

South Africa pace bowler Shabnim Ismail (2-12) was magnificent, removing Elyse Villani for one and taking the key wicket of Lanning (13) after the Australia captain had been dropped on zero by Beaumont.

Ismail was backed up superbly by Sammy-Jo Johnson (2-11), who trapped South Africa batter Mignon du Preez lbw for just four, before England’s Nat Sciver chipped to cover to fall for 11.

Alanna King then fell to Knight for a duck to leave the Stars reeling on 37-5 and, despite 20 from Annabel Sutherland and Brunt’s 22 not out, they could not surpass the previous lowest total of 99 in a WBBL final by the Scorchers in 2017-18.

Remarkably, the Thunder’s victory could have been even more dominant had they not spilled three easy chances, though Haynes made amends for her drop by taking four catches overall.

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