After two wildly contrasting matches, Western Fury ad Victoria Spirit have split this weekend's National Women's Cricket League fixtures in Perth.
At Lilac Hill on Saturday, the Fury adjusted far better to a difficult pitch, while at the Melvista Oval on Sunday, the Spirit's batsmen saw them off to a flying start from which their opponents were never to recover.
There were some fine performances across the weekend from players of both sides but clearly none to match the efforts of Victorian opener Louise Broadfoot. Broadfoot's 44 and 91 were two outstanding innings in themselves, but made even better by the fact that they were played in fundamentally differing circumstances.
Having already been forced to suffer the disappointment earlier in the week of discovering that each of the two games had been shifted from the WACA to suburban grounds, players and spectators alike were more than just a touch frustrated to find a wet pitch on their arrival at the Lilac Hill Park complex on Saturday.
The unfavourable condition of the wicket not only caused a delay to the starting time, but also ensured that the Spirit's batsmen were confronted by treacherous conditions upon being asked to bat first. In this sense, it was not surprising to see a veritable procession of batsmen coming and going from the middle with low scores alongside their names. Only Broadfoot (44) and Melanie Jones (21) really stood out in an innings of 8/130 which was dominated by the excellent line and length of Zoe Goss (2/21), Julie Burnett (2/21) and Avril Fahey (2/19).
Fury opener Elwyn Campbell (66) then demystified any complexities in the pitch with a lovely display of batting. Although the weather itself remained cold throughout the afternoon, she hit some scorching shots, especially through the cover and mid on regions. Before being run out by a direct hit from Charmaine Mason at backward point, she was the dominant figure in setting the Western Australians toward a leisurely seven wicket win with as many as eight overs to spare. Good support through the middle stages came from Goss (26), while Clea Smith (1/27) was possibly the best bowler in an attack which generally struggled to maintain either a consistently penetrative line or length.
The Western Australians clearly enjoyed the best of the conditions but, just as clearly, they were by far the better side.
Sunday's result - a nineteen run victory to the visitors - therefore represented quite a reversal. Played at the attractive Melvista Oval in Nedlands (part of a recreational complex dominated by the Nedlands Golf Club), it again had the Spirit batting first but this time in much more hospitable surroundings. The result by the match's halfway point - a total of 5/212 - was much more favourable too.
The highly regarded Ando Aparo (0) and Jane Franklin (1) again disappeared early, but Broadfoot (91) and Jones (50) then went a long way toward settling the fate of the match with a brilliant 101-run partnership for the third wicket. Broadfoot was particularly strong in the arc between mid on and mid off, driving the ball crisply almost on every occasion the bowlers overpitched; Jones' strengths were in hitting the ball square of, and, behind the wicket; and, there was also some brilliant running from the pair between the wickets. A missed catch by Burnett - at mid wicket off the bowling of Fahey (0/22) - when Jones had 31 alongside her name proved expensive. Melvista served up circumstances vastly different to the ones on Saturday, and the prospect of bowling on a benign pitch and restricting the flow of runs on a fast outfield was one to which the Western Australians struggled to adjust. Fahey again bowled excellently and went without luck. But others, like Burnett and Cherie Bambury (who each bowled a succession of wides in their respective returns of 1/53 and 2/31), didn't generate quite the same degree of accuracy or control.
Goss (66) anchored the Fury's pursuit bravely, but chasing so many runs was always likely to prove a difficult task. This assignment was made even more exacting by the relatively early departures of Campbell (12), Bambury (12) and Angelle Gray (5), the latter out to the best catch of the weekend - a brilliant effort by Jones falling across to her left from mid wicket to intercept a well-hit drive into the leg side. So by the time that the captain fell to her first real mistake with a loose drive at the spin of Broadfoot (1/41) and then Mason (4/30) cut a swathe through the middle and late order with some superb pace bowling, the destiny of the match was well and truly sealed. Even the imposition of a one-over penalty for the Victorians' slow over-rate, and some delightfully lusty late hitting from youngster Kelly Tyrrell (18*) at number ten, could not alter the balance.