Jones and Co try to keep up with major rivals
Despite a double defeat over the past week, the Victoria batsman Mel Jones says the side holds no fear of their big-name opponents in Sunday's WNCL final at the SCG. Jones, 36, is the veteran of the fresh squad that won six out of eight group matches after missing the final last season.
The summer was going perfectly for the Spirit until they ran into New South Wales last weekend and were beaten by nine wickets on Sunday and three wickets on Monday. The Breakers are heavy favourites to collect their fourth trophy in a row but Jones believes her team can cause an upset.
"We had our pants pulled down on Sunday and then fought back well on Monday," Jones said. "We had a handful of players who didn't stand up and they want to improve. We're not going to die wondering."
They also learned valuable lessons during the fixtures - Jones top scored with 87 in the last match - and were able to reduce some of the aura provided by a side that contains seven World Cup representatives. "We went in knowing both teams were in the final so it was like a reconnaissance mission to see people like Erin Osborne and Corinne Hall," she said. "It was also good for our young players to see them first hand. Jess Cameron did well and now they have no fear."
The opener Rachael Haynes, who has the third-most runs in the competition with 357, and Kristen Beams, the equal-leading wicket-taker with 14, missed out on Australian selection for the World Cup, but Jones did not expect they would have a point to prove. "In a way it's great the team has been picked because you can just get on with the final," she said. "It's not like they are playing and thinking there's one more chance to impress."
Nothing can erase the fact that in the previous 12 seasons of the competition New South Wales have won on ten occasions, and this year they are undefeated. "Beating New South Wales is the battle for every state," Jones said. "They've been the best since the competition started. The end prize is you need to knock off New South Wales.
"Looking at the side, there are seven Australian players, so it would be mad to pick one out for attention. We've been excellent in patches, we just have to sustain it. We have to watch all seven and the rest of the side."
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