New South Wales aim for four titles in a row
New South Wales will enter Sunday's final of the Women's National Cricket League as firm favourites after finishing the regular season 14 points ahead of their opponents Victoria. The decider will be held at the Sydney Cricket Ground and the undefeated home side will be looking for their fourth win in as many years.
The finalists warmed up with a dress-rehearsal double-header at Hurstville Oval on Sunday and Monday, with the hosts taking both matches reasonably comfortably. "Two wins coming into this week gives us a psychological edge," the opener Leah Poulton said after posting consecutive half-centuries. "We've been pretty convincing in both games."
Poulton's 53 set up New South Wales' pursuit of Victoria's 7 for 227 and her efforts were built on by Alyssa Healy's 59 off 55 balls and an unbeaten 57 from the captain Lisa Sthalekar. Mel Jones collected 87 and Jessica Cameron made 58 for the visitors, but their total was overhauled with 10 balls remaining.
The success gave New South Wales 38 points from eight games, including six bonus points for the size of their victories. "It's been great going through undefeated," Poulton said. "We've got a really good side and everyone has been contributing."
Sunday's match ended in a nine-wicket win after the offspinner Erin Osborne took 4 for 18 off ten overs, a haul which gained her the Player-of-the-Match award. Poulton picked up 60 off 86 balls while Alex Blackwell registered 70 as they overtook Victoria's 142 in the 35th over.
Poulton, a school teacher, is in the middle of a hectic campaign that will soon turn international. The squad for the Rose Bowl series with New Zealand will be announced this week and those matches will be used to fine-tune for the World Cup in New South Wales in March.
Western Australia finished third on the table despite losing to Queensland by 79 runs at the WACA on Sunday. Jodie Fields' 96 pushed the visitors to 9 for 191 and the home side could only manage 112 in reply. South Australia were bottom of the table with one win.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo