Sthalekar looks to openers for more success
Lisa Sthalekar, the New South Wales captain, is averaging 175 this season but won't mind if she doesn't get much of a bat in the women's domestic final against Victoria at the SCG on Sunday. The Breakers' openers have done so well throughout their eight-match unbeaten campaign that Sthalekar, the No. 4, has had limited opportunities.
Sthalekar has been dismissed only once in the competition and produced her highest score of the domestic summer with 57 not out as her side secured back-to-back wins against Victoria on Sunday and Monday. "I haven't batted as much as I would have liked, but I have been happy with the opportunities I've had," she said. "Our top order has been doing the job all the way through."
Alex Blackwell is the second-leading run-scorer of the campaign with 369 at 73.80 while Leah Poulton has 333 after picking up consecutive half-centuries. The pair was named in Australia's World Cup squad this week but Kate Blackwell, the No. 3, did not make it.
There are still seven World Cup players in the New South Wales side and if they continue to play like they did during the regular season they will lift their fourth consecutive Women's National Cricket League title. "We can draw a lot of confidence from the last two matches [against Victoria]," Sthalekar said. "But now it's down to one match and we have to execute on the day.
"We're not thinking nine wins in a row, it's a final now and we have to win to get another title, that's what we're thinking. As a team we put a lot of expectation on ourselves."
Sthalekar said the players picked up some useful tips during their victories over Victoria, but both teams benefitted from the contests. "The rivalry with Victoria is so deep," she said, "nobody wants to budge."
The batsmen Rachael Haynes, Mel Jones and Jessica Cameron, who was named in the Australia squad, are major threats for the Breakers. Like New South Wales, Victoria made no changes to their line-up for the final after the fast bowler Clea Smith recovered from a knee injury.
"We need to recognise moments when it's time to step up and take our opportunities," the Victoria coach Cathryn Fitzpatrick said. "We've done our homework and have plans that we want to execute. We've identified a couple of bowlers we aim to target and areas where we can improve."
New South Wales squad Lisa Sthalekar (capt), Alex Blackwell, Sarah Aley, Sarah Andrews, Kate Blackwell, Leonie Coleman, Corinne Hall, Alyssa Healy, Sharon Millanta, Erin Osborne, Ellyse Perry, Leah Poulton.
Victoria squad Sarah Edwards (capt), Clea Smith, Rachael Haynes, Kelly Applebee, Kristen Beams, Jessica Cameron, Jodi Dean, Jane Franklin, Julie Hunter, Emma Inglis, Melanie Jones, Elyse Villani.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo