We’re at the halfway mark of the regular WBBL season and it’s time to find out who’s hot, who’s not and who’s warming up.
Here’s where we’re at with the teams:
Melbourne Renegades have a two-point lead over the Brisbane Heat on top of the ladder and have played one less game than the Melbourne Stars (fourth) and the Hobart Hurricanes (seventh).
The Renegades have won their past four games and they’ve done it without international spinner Georgia Wareham, who ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament early in the competition.
Brisbane Heat have one less win than the Renegades and have also played seven games.
The Renegades and Heat will meet for the first time at Adelaide’s Karen Rolton Oval on Saturday.
Perth Scorchers (fifth) have the same number of wins as the Sydney Sixers (third) but have played one less game.
The Scorchers play their next three games in Perth before finishing the regular season in Adelaide.
Reigning champions Sydney Thunder sit last on two wins but those have come in their past two games so the temperature is rising.
Losing star captain Rachael Haynes for the entire competition due to family reasons was a major blow but 19-year-old skipper Hannah Darlington is putting her stamp on the team.
“It was always going to take them a little bit of time to gel, particularly with such a young team,” Pike said.
The Hobart Hurricanes are second-last with only two wins. They failed to take advantage of playing all their games in Tasmania due to COVID-19 restrictions in other states.
Their remaining six games are scheduled for Perth and Mackay.
Now to individual players.
Who’s in top form with the bat?
Opener Grace Harris has starred for the Brisbane Heat and leads the run-scoring with 251 at an average of 50.20 and an impressive strike rate of 133.51.
The 28-year-old has hit a competition-best 29 fours and has cleared the rope on six occasions.
Harris has also taken three wickets with her off-spin and seems to have done most of this while being mic’d up by the television broadcaster.
Alyssa Healy (Sixers) ended a run of lean scoring with an unbeaten 94 off 57 balls in the win over the Scorchers last Sunday.
The opener boasts the highest strike rate of the players who’ve scored at least 100 runs.
Scorchers captain Sophie Devine is one of two century-makers — the other being Rachel Priest from the Hurricanes.
The New Zealand star has lived up to her surname in the Super Overs, winning games against the Heat and the Strikers.
Her combined record in Super Overs is 25 runs off five balls with four sixes.
Expectations are always high for Australian captain Meg Lanning (Melbourne Stars) and a total of 96 runs with a strike rate of 80.67 is well below her usual standards.
Last season Lanning made 493 runs with six 50s and a strike rate of 127.72.
All-rounder Annabel Sutherland (Stars) was tried at the top of the order — with Lanning at three — but a lack of success has seen her move to first drop with Lanning restored to the opening role where she played last season.
Sutherland has delivered with the ball, taking nine wickets.
Fellow Australian all-rounder Ash Gardner has made five single-figure scores but has taken six wickets.
So who’s bowling best?
Left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen is leading by example at the Heat with a competition-best 12 wickets at the miserly T20 economy rate of 5.50 runs conceded per over.
Pike says the Australian all-rounder has made an impressive return from a lower-leg injury but could be more productive with the bat.
“She finished last season off exceptionally well [with the bat] so she’ll want to recapture that form and the Heat do rely quite heavily on that as well,” Pike said.
Before suffering her knee injury in the Renegades’ second game of the season, Wareham had shown her class with three wickets and conceded a competition-best 3.71 runs per over.
Of those who have taken at least five wickets, the most economical is Thunder spinner Sam Bates.
What about the Indian imports?
India won many fans with the way they performed in the multi-format series against Australia and that form has continued in the WBBL.
Harmanpreet Kaur (Melbourne Renegades) is third in run-scoring, with 219, and in her most recent match, she led the team to victory against the Adelaide Strikers with an unbeaten 73 off only 46 balls.
India’s T20 captain has a strike rate of 131.14 and has hit a competition best 10 sixes.
Add in seven wickets and four catches and you’ve got one very hot player.
Kaur’s Renegades teammate Jemimah Rodrigues is sixth on the run-scoring list, with 187 runs and a top score of 75 not out.
Sydney Thunder all-rounder Deepti Sharma is equal third on the wicket-taking list, with nine, and has also contributed 127 runs and four catches.
The elegant opener Smriti Mandhana (Sydney Thunder) started with three single-figure scores before making 64 against the Renegades. In her most recent game, the left-hander stroked 50 in a win over the Hurricanes.
The Sixers broke up the reliable opening partnership of Alyssa Healy and Elysse Perry to accommodate hard-hitting Shafali Verma.
The 17-year-old has only one half-century and, after consecutive ducks, she was moved down the order and the Healy – Perry combination was restored.
Perry and Healy combined for 101 runs in the Sixers’ win over the Scorchers last Sunday.
Sixers to make a move
Pike, who represented Australia in all forms of the game, says the star-studded Sixers are poised to pounce in the second half of the regular season.
“Renegades have done exceptionally well, I’d be putting them in the top four.
“I think Scorchers will be up there.