New South Wales miss WNCL final for first time history, Queensland cling onto second spot
South Australia were denied a place in the final when they lost in the last over against ACT
For the first time in the competition's 25-year history, New South Wales will not appear in the final of the Women's National Cricket League (WNCL).
Their last league match against Queensland in Sydney was abandoned without a ball bowled removing any chance they had of finishing in the top two.
Queensland then clung onto second place in the table, to play Victoria in the final on March 27, when ACT pulled off a last-over chase against South Australia to deny them the victory which would have booked their spot in the decider.
New South Wales had appeared in every final (or finals series) since the tournament began in 1996-97, winning 20 of the 24 titles with one of their final losses coming last season against Western Australia meaning this is the first time they have gone back-to-back seasons without claiming the title.
They made a poor start to the competition with losses in their first two games against Victoria then had a tie against Tasmania before three wins in a row kept them in the hunt. However, a heavy defeat against Queensland in Sydney two days ago ultimately proved costly.
"The group's proud of a lot of things we've achieved this year, it's been such a tough year with Covid," stand-in captain Sammy-Jo Johnson said. "We've done so many training sessions, the group's had people come and go, there's so many good things we've taken from this year.
"To look towards next year it's such a big positive that we'll see some similar faces around the squad and hopefully push to get back in the final."
There have been a record number of centuries scored in this season's tournament with Victoria's Elyse Villani leading the way with three. Notably, 12 of the 16 centuries have come from players not currently in the Australia set-up. "Some new players have put their hands up with centuries and that's something we speak about, about dominating the game you play and hundreds in one-day cricket are game-changing," Australia captain Meg Lanning said last week. "It's been great to see a number of new players doing that.
"I think it's just the overall professionalism of the game, people are training more, we've got access to better coaches and better facilities. Just being able to put all our effort into trying to get better as cricketers, I think that's the reason there's been really good performances being put out on the board."
Victoria have lost six players to Australia duty along with the injured Annabel Sutherland while Queensland will be without Beth Mooney and Jess Jonassen.