Cricket fans surprised by the record-breaking scores in the opening round of the women’s Big Bash League haven’t seen anything yet, according to Melbourne Renegades star Jess Duffin.
“The games have shown that 180, 190 is not enough … We were chasing 200 and the next game was 240, so I think it’s going to be great for fans to come out and look at the Big Bash this year because I think it’s just going to get better and better,” she said.
Duffin scored a club record 81 for the Renegades on Saturday, as they fell 11 runs short against the Sydney Thunder.
The Thunder’s total of 6-200 was the highest in the history of the competition, but not for long, as the Sydney Sixers came out in the next match to smash 6-242 against the Stars — a record for both the men’s and women’s Big Bash Leagues.
Women’s cricket has in the past been criticised for lacking the big scores and power hitting of the men’s game, but Duffin says the weekend’s results have put those views to bed.
“If there’s still people out there who think women can’t hit boundaries I think they need to go have a look at a few of those games that were played over the weekend,” she said.
The average innings score over the first two years of the WBBL hovered around 120, while on the weekend, it was almost 170, with more than 2,000 runs scored across the six matches.
Of course, time will tell whether the high scores remain but similar trends have been evident across other competitions and formats. There have been adjustments made to lift the run rates in women’s cricket, most notably bringing in the boundary ropes, but Duffin says the simplest explanation is that women are now playing more cricket.
“I think it’s just the girls having the confidence to go out there and put on a show,” she said.
“I’d love to say it was us going into the gym and pumping some iron but at the end of the day I just think the more cricket we play, the better we get.”
Former player turned broadcaster Lisa Sthalekar says the professionalisation of women’s cricket is producing better results.
“They’ve got more time to train and they’ve got more time to rest and recover, normally in the past we’d play on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, juggling a full-time job, go straight back to work on Monday,” she said.
“I think certainly playing on better grounds, you get better wickets, faster pitches, bouncier pitches which certainly help the ball fly off the bat.”
Twenty20 cricket remains a game dominated by the bat, but Sthalekar is expecting to see similar development amongst the bowlers as the game continues to grow.
“Bowlers will certainly fight back and figure out plans on what they need to do but we all know that T20 cricket is a batter’s game,” she said.
Duffin is already preparing for some new tactics from the bowlers, when the Renegades play their next match against the Strikers on Saturday.
“The bowlers will bounce back there’s no doubt about that, they’re a fiery bunch so none of them would have liked that the batters took control over the last weekend.”