<
>

A week of startling symmetry

play
'Very tight season emerging' - Colins (3:35)

ESPN Cricinfo's Geoff Lemon and Adam Collins recap the second week of the Women's Big Bash League (3:35)

Frame thy fearful symmetry

If there had been a car giveaway for the player of the match this round, it should have been a Holden Gemini. With all teams playing one opponent in back-to-back matches, the results from each double were twinned, or at least were a mirror image.

The Hobart Hurricanes produced nearly identical finishes, batting first and then holding off the Melbourne Renegades from the last ball of the chase. Amy Satterthwaite made unbeaten scores of 45 and 52 respectively to boost the Hurricanes to a total above six runs per over. In both games Kris Britt and Danielle Wyatt had the chase well in hand after Grace Harris failed at the top. In both games, Molly Strano nearly sealed it but was out in the last over, which was bowled by Satterthwaite. The only difference was that the second game was tied, but the Hurricanes duly won the Super Over.

The Sydney Sixers had identical starts against the Melbourne Stars, with Alyssa Healy, Ellyse Perry and Dane van Niekerk out for single figures in both games. Ashleigh Gardner propped up both totals, which were chased by the Stars with seven wickets to spare. The Perth Scorchers and the Brisbane Heat played a mirror-image pair of matches, with one team restricted to a low score with nine wickets down, then the other chasing it easily for the loss of two. Who knows what the Adelaide Strikers and the Sydney Thunder could have paired up had their first game not been lost to rain.

Harbour City must bridge deep water

Before the season it was hard to reach any conclusion besides the Sydney Thunder going back-to-back as champions. Too much international firepower, too many Southern Stars, too good at nurturing talent, and then they landed the best recruit of the off-season. India representative Harmanpreet Kaur proved that with four wickets and an unbeaten 30 to get the champions on the board in the early games.

But this weekend, one unflattering showing with the bat and one washout leave the Thunder with one win from four starts.

They suffered at the hands of a young star of this competition, legspinner Amanda Wellington, who bowled Australia allrounder Erin Osborne behind her legs. Sophie Devine made her third score in the 40s after dismissing West Indies superstar Stafanie Taylor, confirming the New Zealand allrounder as the competition's in-form player.

The Sydney Sixers are in as much strife on the bottom of the table. Reminiscent of their start in the inaugural WBBL season, a couple more weekends like they just had in Melbourne and this season's degree of difficulty will be much the same.

Melbourne's stars find a Milky Way

Last season there was only one Star in Melbourne. Meg Lanning was always going to be good at this Big Bash caper, but if she didn't fuel her side, it went dark. She made the most runs in the competition by the length of an Earth orbit, but her next-best team-mate was Katie Mack at 26th. Their team didn't make finals and never looked like it.

This year Mack has stepped up with scores of 30, 26, 14 not out and 48 not out. New team-mate Jess Cameron joined her last effort with 45 not out to down the Sixers, after having made 36 against the Thunder last weekend. Wicketkeeper and opener Emma Inglis crashed 46 off 28 balls in the other Thunder game to set up a total that was beyond even a full-steam-ahead Harmanpreet. In Stars' chase against the Sixers, Hayley Jensen helped Lanning with 31 at better than a run a ball.

Sure, Lanning made 66 not out from 48 in that chase, but her falling cheaply would have ended the game last year. No longer. Of course smaller stars can't outshine the brightest, but the night sky would be empty without them.

Christmas holidays aren't for cricketers

Four games down, ten to go. That's the case for each team heading into the busiest burst of the season, nine games across the country in four days from Boxing Day, then more across the New Year period.

At the Allan Border Field, the Brisbane Heat have the chance for home advantage against Melbourne Stars on consecutive days. Glenelg in Adelaide will be the host of two fixtures between Strikers - determined to confirm their status as the competition's big improver - and the hearty Hurricanes.

The Renegades will travel to Western Sydney for fixtures against the Thunder at Blacktown and the Sydney Showgrounds, desperate to recover from a slow start after wasting four winning positions for a single win. And those Showgrounds will be the venue for the first Sydney Smash of WBBL02, before the Sixers lay out the welcome mat to the Hurricanes the following day at Hurstville.

All that before the tournament goes on its stadium tour for the first time this summer. The Renegades and Scorchers will play before their male counterparts at Melbourne's Docklands on the December 29, while the Strikers and Scorchers will hit Adelaide Oval on New Year's Eve. The Melbourne Derby is set to fill the MCG on the first day of 2017, by which time we'll have previewed a new burst of activity from January 2. If your resolution involves more cricket, you're in luck.