Dottin's head injury rules her out of the season
Sometimes, things are as bad as they look. When players go down on the field, you always hope for a Mohammad Amir knee story at the Gabba: apparent pain and danger dissolving before the next new ball. But, when two Brisbane Heat outfielders crashed into each other on the boundary, and support staff swarmed out of the gates to surround their prone bodies, there was little chance of a best-case scenario.
The collision was full-tilt between two powerful players. Laura Harris, the sister of Australia hitter Grace, was belting across from long-on, while West Indies superstar Deandra Dottin arrived from deep midwicket, both leaning forward and thinking about diving for the ball. As a result, rather than their bodies taking the impact and knocking them back in the direction they had come, the contact was almost entirely between their heads, at such force that each player spun away and fell in the direction that she had been running. Both covered a few more metres in the fall, Harris crashing into the picket fence and Dottin into a kit bag next to it.
The Australian stayed with team-mates and slowly recovered, albeit with a rainbow lump across her forehead that looked less like an injury than a mythical dragon's egg. Dottin, though, was stretchered off, and has since had titanium enhancements to her skeletal structure after fracturing a cheekbone. She won't take the field again this season. Given her 60 off 44 balls that won Heat their opening game of the season, and the fact that she still has the fastest T20I century in women's or men's cricket, the loss for Brisbane and the competition is clear.
Red-hot Lanning's team left red in the face by green mistakes
Dottin's injury had a curious effect on Melbourne Stars: the opening partnership of Meg Lanning and Emma Inglis was flourishing at 88 in pursuit of Brisbane Heat's 129. But after the injury delay, Melbourne's canter ended in a choke. That undid their superb start to the round on Boxing Day, where Lanning's dominant 97 not out extinguished any hope for the Heat.
By New Year's Day, the tournament was halfway there, and Melbourne Renegades were living on a prayer. Coming into their televised blockbuster derby at the MCG, Red Melbourne had one win from their seven fixtures. The Thunder had pulled off a double over them in Sydney that week, before the Scorchers smashed them in the roof-closed clambake at Docklands Stadium.
In the derby, Lanning led Green Melbourne in a WBBL-record opening stand of 94, and the situation was again dire for the women in red. But they put in a mighty second shift with the ball. Young quick Maitland Brown was frugal at the death, and Lanning prevented from truly exploding. Then the twist: a fast start and a rain delay left the Gades with 52 to win, and New Zealand batsman Rachel Priest did the rest.
Lanning fumed at the umpires, assuming the target should have increased when her side took a wicket after the delay. That earned her a trip to the match referee's office for a please-explain and a stern lesson in Duckworth-Lewis. Naturally, the Stars captain was frustrated, her team having lost from a commanding position for the second successive time.
A tale of two Sydneys
Sydney is known for end-of-year fireworks, and that was the case for the Sixers with the bat after they had collapsed badly the previous weekend. Taking down the Thunder in a replay of last year's final, they tallied 3 for 164.
Ellyse Perry made a run-a-ball 42, while Alyssa Healy struck 55 from 38, her knock defined by inside-out drives over cover. Then, the tournament's big improver Ashleigh Gardner smashed 52 not out, following up from her rescue-effort knocks of 38 and 43 in the previous round.
That made it advantage Sixers for the last few games, given the Thunder had twice kept the Renegades to paltry totals and chased them easily, while the Sixers had done the same to Hobart Hurricanes, including Sarah Aley's catch-of-the-tournament contender off her own bowling.
On January 2, the pink half of Sydney made 3 for 161, which was way beyond the Adelaide Strikers, with runs yet again for Perry, Healy and Gardner, while the green side of town made 132 and just held off Heat for 129. The colours may be wildly divergent, but the two Sydney teams remain neck and neck.
Sophie's choice - she's really choice
It was bound to happen. Sophie Devine's season had been like a sitcom - featuring a string of glamorous 40-somethings with a plot twist every five minutes. But you felt sure that a feature-length spinoff was coming. When it got greenlit, it was spectacular.
Chasing Hobart Hurricanes' substantial 143 on Boxing Day, the New Zealand international entered with her side reeling at 2 for 5. She walked off an hour later with 103 to her name, the second ton in WBBL history. She matched Grace's score from the previous season, although she got there in 48 balls - four fewer than Grace.
Devine cleared the ropes eight times, and more often than not, sent the ball into the crowd: over midwicket with raw power, dead-straight with hockey slaps, and down on one knee with the class of a tuxedo-clad proposal. She scored 88 runs in boundaries, and appropriately, brought up the century and winning runs with a blistering straight drive.
The rematch the following day was lost to rain - Adelaide's second abandonment in as many weekends - but their New Year's Eve hopes at the Adelaide Oval were washed out by the home team itself. When Devine failed against a formidable Scorchers bowling line-up, her team-mates put up a stinker. England superstar Katherine Brunt got Adelaide's talisman for a duck. With Brunt's countrywoman Anya Shrubsole going at three per over, Adelaide limped to 82 for 9 amid a panicky cascade of dot balls and run-outs. The South Australian side needs an alternative path to victory, fast.
Switch on a suburban circuit
Plenty of action in the outskirts to start off 2017, with Blacktown in Western Sydney hosting the brace of games between the Thunder and the Heat. The leafy inner-Melbourne suburbs of Camberwell and Toorak will see the Scorchers take on the Renegades and the Stars respectively. The Strikers stay central to host the Sixers at Adelaide Oval, while the Thunder travel to Launceston to take on the Hurricanes, who are in desperate need of a win after losing twice between Christmas and the New Year.