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Brisbane Heat set out to make a 'great statement' as they peak at the right time

"People wrote us off before we even came here, we just had to keep backing ourselves," Delissa Kimmince says

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Delissa Kimmince celebrates with her team-mates

Delissa Kimmince celebrates with her team-mates  •  Getty Images

"It only takes one win and you can gain a little bit of momentum in this tournament, so rolling through the back end, if we get on the board next game, look out, because we could be on from there."
That was Grace Harris on November 8, just a few minutes after finishing unbeaten on 81 against the Melbourne Stars but unable to get the Brisbane Heat across the line. It left the defending champions with one win in seven matches. The quest for a hat-trick of titles looked a long way away.
Fast forward to November 25, the eve of the second WBBL semi-final, and Harris' words have been played out with stunning accuracy: seven wins in a row and the Heat finished second in the table, earning a knockout clash with the Sydney Thunder. They still need two victories to secure the title - one that would surely be their best - but it would be a brave person to bet against them despite the calibre of the other three sides. Knowing how to win can prove crucial.
The build-up to the season had been dominated by talk of how they would replace Beth Mooney's runs and Sammy-Jo Johnson's wickets. As they lurched to the mid-point of the group stage it was looking like too great of a task. However, in the subsequent weeks the team has come together.
"We haven't panicked in those moments when things could have hit the fan, we are really trying to hunt as a pack."
Delissa Kimmince
"People have focused a lot on the players we've lost and not the people we've had in our side," Delissa Kimmince said. "Everyone has gone out and done their job. That's the most pleasing part, we aren't relying on just one or two people to win us games.
"We are here as a whole squad, including the staff and the work they do behind the scenes. People wrote us off before we even came here, worrying about the players we've lost, and if we could come out and show them we aren't about two players that would be a great statement."
A look at particularly the Heat's batting returns illustrates Kimmince's point. Georgia Redmayne, in many ways filling Mooney's enormous shoes at the top of the order, is their top-scorer with 332 runs but that leaves her 11th on the overall list at the end of the group stage - all the other semi-finalists have somebody above that. However, in the latter half of the tournament players have delivered when it has mattered, none more so than Laura Kimmince who has smashed 123 runs off 49 balls in her last four innings. It's the type of X-factor that can win tournaments.
"The most pleasing thing is that she's usually doing that to us in the nets, so to see her do it in a game, you can see that it's so hard for bowlers to know where to bowl when you don't know where she's hitting it," Delissa said. "She's reversing spinners, she's reversing pace bowlers then she also has the power to go over the top of the fielders. We get to see it day in, day out at training so really nice to see her come out in those games and fire."
The wicket-taking has been fairly evenly spaced with Amelia Kerr and Jess Jonassen claiming 16 apiece in one of the tournament's most formidable spin duos, while Grace Harris has bagged 13 at just 9.07 and Nicola Hancock's nippy pace bowling has brought 10 scalps.
The turnaround was sparked, in a large part, by a belief that the early table was not a reflection on how they were playing. It was not a time for ripping up the playbook.
"We knew we were still playing pretty good cricket, we just weren't winning the one or two overs within the game that in T20 can win you those games," Delissa said. "We knew our plans were right, we just had to keep backing ourselves. We've fought hard the last seven games but really tried to enjoy our cricket at the same time.
"We haven't panicked in those moments when things could have hit the fan, we are really trying to hunt as a pack. That's what's been so pleasing."
If winning a tournament is about peaking at the right time, the Heat may have judged it perfectly.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo