Brisbane Heat had a problem on Saturday and her name was Meg Lanning.
Playing for the Melbourne Stars, the Australian captain showed why she is considered the best in the world, making 90, then 75 not out, in back-to-back matches to launch the Women’s Big Bash League.
More than 1560 people went through the gates at the Junction Oval to see the Stars beat the Heat twice, exceeding organisers’ expectations for the newly formed T20 competition.
Lanning made the most of a very quick pitch, showing her uncanny ability to find gaps in the field to smash 12 fours and two sixes in the first match, only to go out leg before wicket to Delissa Kimmince in the final over.
The Stars’ total of 7-156 proved too much for Brisbane’s 136.
It was an equally impressive performance from the skipper in the second match, opening the batting and making 75 not out of the Stars’ 147, with the Heat managing 7-137 in reply.
Lanning was named player of the match on both occasions, with coach David Hemp calling her performances characteristically clinical.
“She’s very focused, very driven, she always wants to get better which I think is important,” he said.
“She always wants feedback on how she’s played and what she needs to do to get better, so in terms of coaching, she’s a coach’s dream.”
Although all teams would be relying on their key players to stand up, it would be important to not rely solely on Lanning, Hemp said.
“It’s up to everyone to chip in, everyone’s got an important role to play, it’s not to put pressure on Meg, she just goes out to play,” he said.
Lanning praised the fans who watched the action on a sunny Melbourne day, calling the occasion unforgettable.
“I’ve never been involved in something like this before, it’s fantastic everyone that’s got behind the WBBL and the Melbourne Stars and hopefully we can have some good success this year,” she said.
She praised her opposition, saying Grace Harris and Jess Jonassen had given them some headaches.
Around the ground children ran around in green fairy wings and face paint and their parents drank free coffee, the feature of the matches which the home team had been promoting heavily throughout the week.
A group of teenagers sitting in the stands sang along to the pop songs pumping over the speakers during breaks in the game and the Stars got in on the act, with several players breaking into an impromptu dance routine before the second game.
It would now be up to the other teams and venues to maintain the league’s momentum.
Harris was a stand out batter for the Heat in the first game, making a quick 42 before being caught out at long off by Kelly Applebee off a Kristen Beams ball.
Tennis convert Ashleigh Barty also proved herself handy with the bat, scoring 39 until she was bowled by Englishwoman Natalie Sciver.
But Brisbane’s batting order lacked any real depth – opening batter Beth Mooney fell for two, and further down Sammy-Jo Johnson went for four, Jemma Barsby for nine and Kate Cross and Courtney Hill made ducks, both at the hands of Morna Nielsen.
After being bowled out in the first game, the Heat were more competitive in the second, losing by 10 runs.
MATCH 1 Melbourne Stars M LANNING lbw b Kimmince 90 (58) K MACK c Mooney b Hill 6 (7) N SCIVER lbw b Kimmince 33 (25) A LANNING c Ferling b Kimmince 2 (8) K APPLEBEE run out (Mooney) 2 (6) E INGLIS b Cross 6 (13 )H JENSEN not out 2 (2) K BEAMS run out (Barsby) 4 (2)Sundries (1b, 9w, 1nb) 11Total (7 wklts – 20 overs) 156Fall of wickets: 16 (Mack), 81 (Sciver), 91 (A Lanning), 106 (Applebee), 128 (Inglis), 152 (M Lanning), 156 (Beams)Bowling: C Hill 4-0-24-1 (4w), J Jonassen 4-0-24-0 (1w), H Ferling 1-0-14-0, J Barsby 1-0-15-0, K Cross 4-0-35-1 (1w 1nb), D Kimmince 4-1-25-3 (3w), G Harris 2-0-18-0
Brisbane Heat B MOONEY b Nielsen 2 (4) G HARRIS c Applebee b Beams 42 (21) J JONASSEN b King 6 (15) D KIMMINCE c Jensen b Triscari 10 (21) L WINFIELD c Mack b Beams 13 (14) A BARTY b Sciver 39 (27) S JOHNSON c M Lanning b Beams 4 (6) J BARSBY c King b Sciver 9 (6) K CROSS st Inglis b Nielsen 0 (1) C HILL c M Lanning b Nielsen 0 (1) H FERLING not out 3 (3)Sundries (7w, 1nb) 8Total (all out – 19.4 overs) 136Fall of wickets: 2 (Mooney), 56 (Jonassen), 57 (Harris), 78 (Kimmince), 84 (Winfield), 90 (Johnson), 109 (Barsby), 133 (Cross), 133 (Hill), 136 (Barty)Bowling: M Nielsen 4-0-24-3, G Triscari 4-0-35-1, N Sciver 3.4-0-43-2 (1w 1nb), K Beams 4-0-20-3 (1w), A King 4-1-14-1 (1w)Result: Melbourne Stars won by 20 runs.
MATCH 2Melbourne Stars M LANNING not out 75 (56) K MACK run out (Hill) 24 (19) N SCIVER c Cross b Barsby 29 (27) A LANNING run out (Kimmince) 4 (14) K APPLEBEE run out (Barty) 3 (5)Sundries (4lb, 7w, 1nb) 12Total (4 wkts – 20 overs) 147Fall of wickets: 50 (Mack), 113 (Sciver), 128 (A Lanning), 147 (Applebee)Bowling: C Hill 2-0-18-0 (3w), J Jonassen 3-0-23-0, H Ferling 2-0-21-0 (1w 1nb), K Cross 4-0-24-0, G Harris 3-0-21-0, D Kimmince 1-0-10-0, J Barsby 4-0-17-1 (2w), S Johnson 1-0-9-0
Brisbane Heat B MOONEY c and b Nielsen 14 (12) G HARRIS c King b Sciver 37 (18) J JONASSEN not out 52 (48) D KIMMINCE b Beams 7 (12) L WINFIELD c Beams b King 5 (11) A BARTY st Inglis b Beams 1 (5) S JOHNSON c Sciver b Triscari 1 (6) J BARSBY c A Lanning b Sciver 11 (7) K CROSS not out 2 (2)Sundries (3b, 3w, 1nb) 7Total (7 wkts – 20 overs) 137Fall of wickets: 47 (Mooney), 57 (Harris), 76 (Kimmince), 96 (Winfield), 101 (Barty), 104 (Johnson), 126 (Barsby)Bowling: M Nielsen 4-0-27-1 (1w), G Triscari 4-0-27-1, K Beams 4-0-24-2, N Sciver 4-0-38-2 (2w 1nb), A King 4-0-18-1Result: Stars won by 10 runsPlayer of the Match: Meg Lanning.
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