Perry ex­pect­ing pro­fes­sional ap­proach to pay off

The Observer - - SPORT CRICKET - — Fiona Bollen

THE Women’s Big Bash League is set to ex­plode in its third sea­son on the back of more money, com­mit­ment from the game and play­ers be­ing ready to take the ac­tion to the fans.

With the re­cent MOU al­low­ing Aus­tralia’s top fe­male play­ers to be fully pro­fes­sional and most do­mes­tic play­ers to fully fo­cus on cricket dur­ing the sea­son, play­ers are fit­ter, stronger and bet­ter pre­pared for WBBL|03, which gets un­der­way this week­end.

Six of the eight teams will be on show at North Syd­ney Oval in two dou­ble-head­ers this Satur­day and Sun­day and cap­tain of de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Syd­ney Six­ers, Ell­yse Perry, said ev­ery­thing is com­ing to­gether to en­sure the sea­son starts with a bang.

“A lot of the girls in this com­pe­ti­tion, par­tic­u­larly the Australian play­ers, have prob­a­bly been full-time crick­eters for at least six months, if not longer,” Perry (pic­tured) said.

“From that point of view it only means that play­ers are go­ing to be bet­ter, from a skills point of view, but also an ath­letic point of view. They’ve had a longer time to fo­cus on be­ing stronger and fit­ter.

“Es­pe­cially in T20 cricket where that ath­leti­cism and ex­plo­sive­ness comes into play so of­ten, I ex­pect ev­ery­one to be bet­ter than they were last year.”

Bris­bane Heat’s Beth Mooney was in rip­ping form dur­ing the re­cent Ashes T20s, putting on an 86 and 117 in two of the three matches, and she ex­pects the runs will flow freely this sea­son.

“North Syd­ney Oval, open­ing week­end, it will be a bel­ter of a wicket again,” she said.

“We might see scores of

160-plus all the way through the week­end.

“It will be re­ally ex­cit­ing and a re­ally good spec­ta­cle for the Australian pub­lic to look at and get talk­ing about women’s cricket.”

Cricket Aus­tralia’s head of Big Bash Kim McCon­nie said talk is key in tak­ing the game be­yond it’s cur­rent au­di­ence.

McCon­nie said while those in cricket cir­cles knew all about the ex­cit­ing T20 women’s com­pe­ti­tion, the chal­lenge is now reach­ing peo­ple out­side that.

Free en­try to games, dou­ble-head­ers and tak­ing games to non-tra­di­tional grounds are some of the steps they are tak­ing, as well as en­ter­ing part­ner­ships with non-sport en­ti­ties.

”That’s where the growth will come from,” McCon­nie said. “It’s in­ter­est­ing, the level of aware­ness on women’s cricket is ridicu­lously low, still.

“We’re in the world so we find it hard to be­lieve but only 40 per cent of Aus­tralians ac­tu­ally know there’s a pro­fes­sional women’s cricket team.”

PHOTO: DAN HIMBRECHTS

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