Women’s Big Bash Final: England captain Heather Knight steers Sydney Thunder to second title

Heather Knight and Tammy Beaumont are Women’s Big Bash League champions after helping Sydney Thunder to a thumping seven-wicket victory over a Melbourne Stars side featuring their England team-mates Katherine Brunt and Nat Sciver.

Thunder claimed their second WBBL title after limiting Stars to 86-9 – the lowest score in a Women’s Big Bash final, below the 99 Perth Scorchers were shot out for by Sydney Sixers in 2018 – and then easing to their target with 38 balls to spare at North Sydney Oval on Saturday night.

England captain Knight followed a wicket in the Stars innings with an unbeaten 26 from 19 balls in Thunder’s, sealing victory for her side in the 14th over of the chase with a six over long-off off Alana King – the player she had dismissed for a duck earlier in the day.

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Stars’ hopes of a maiden crown were dashed with the first-time finalists second-best on the day, starting when their top order was razed by Thunder after captain Meg Lanning elected to bat.

Brunt’s unbeaten 22 from the No 7 spot was the best innings Stars could muster – Sciver only able to contribute a run-a-ball 11 and Lanning falling for 13 having been dropped on nought by Beaumont at backward point.

England batter Beaumont then thumped Sciver for six early in the chase before being pinned lbw by a nip-backer from Brunt for 16 but there was no removing Knight, who backed up her match-sealing six with two fours.

Stars had a slight sniff when Thunder were reduced to 54-3 in the 10th over, only for Knight and Thunder captain Rachael Haynes (21no off 17) to share an unbroken stand of 33.

    Thunder’s title was their first since the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League in 2015-16 when they beat city rivals Sixers by three wickets in Melbourne.

    Seam bowlers Sammy-Jo Johnson and Hannah Darlington have been crucial in Thunder’s success this time around, finishing with a tournament-high 22 and 19 wickets respectively.

    Johnson claimed 2-11 from her four overs in the final, while Darlington took 1-15 during a fine bowling display in which South Africa’s Shabmim Ismal (2-12) also struck twice.

    Stars can take consolation from the fact their 2020 season was a vast improvement on previous campaigns.

    Having failed to reach the knockout phase over the course of the first five editions of the Big Bash, they finished top of the league table this term and then beat Scorchers in the semi-finals.

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    The Men’s Big Bash League gets under way on December 10, with a host of English players, including Jonny Bairstow, Alex Hales, Sam Billings and Tom Banton, set to be involved.

    English players in Men’s Big Bash for 2020-21

    Adelaide Strikers: Danny Briggs (Warwickshire), Phil Salt (Sussex)

    Brisbane Heat: Tom Banton (Somerset), Lewis Gregory (Somerset), Dan Lawrence (Essex)

    Hobart Hurricanes: Dawid Malan (Yorkshire), Will Jacks (Surrey)

    Melbourne Stars: Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire)

    Perth Scorchers: Jason Roy (Surrey), Liam Livingstone (Lancashire), Joe Clarke (Nottinghamshire)

    Sydney Sixers: Tom Curran (Surrey), James Vince (Hampshire)

    Sydney Thunder: Sam Billings (Kent), Alex Hales (Nottinghamshire)

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