Brisbane Heat bank on ‘once-in-a-generation’ Harris to counter Perry threat in final

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Brisbane Heat are hoping an unshackled Grace Harris will help them deny Sydney Sixers a third straight Women’s Big Bash League title. The two teams enter Saturday’s season climax with one win apiece from their two encounters in the regular season, but the Heat will draw inspiration from their 66-run victory over the defending champions, a match in which they bowled the Sixers out for 88.
While Harris made 20 in that match, she has at times provided valuable top-order firepower for the Heat alongside Beth Mooney, including setting a WBBL record with a 42-ball century in Brisbane’s win over Melbourne Stars in December. There were some fears she had picked up a niggle in last weekend’s semi-final against Sydney Thunder, but Heat captain Kirby Short was confident the allrounder would be fit to play in the final.
“She’s actually the fittest she’s ever been, so part of the reason she’s launched onto the scene this year with both bat and ball is that she’s in the best physical condition that she’s been in,” Short said. “And that makes a big difference in the capacity she’s been able to perform in both facets of the game so she’s actually been travelling well, which is why we feel pretty good about tomorrow.”
While Harris’ strike-rate of 150.40 is one of the best in the WBBL, she has also taken 13 wickets at an average of 19.07 and a team best economy rate of 5.90.
Finalists penalised for slow over-rate
Cricket Australia has warned both Brisbane Heat and Sydney Sixers for maintaining slow over-rates in their semi-final encounters.
The Heat, playing Sydney Thunder, and the Sixers, up against Melbourne Renegades, were both found to be six minutes behind the scheduled completion time for their 20 overs, which meant that they were each an over short.
“Grace is a once-in-a-generation type of player for a lot of reasons,” Short said. “We talk about her being our team ‘crazy’ in the most loving way possible, in the sense that she can do things with bat and ball that essentially no woman can do in the world in cricket and part of that is her mind set.
“And she plays with such freedom and that carefree attitude, and the hundred she scored at the Gabba was – her sister actually raised in a meeting that we had the other day – just talking about how much she was genuinely just loving doing it. And I think if you just let the shackles off and just set her free what happens, happens.”
One of Harris’ challenges could be to contain the WBBL’s leading run-scorer, Ellyse Perry, the Sixers captain who has amassed 744 runs at an astonishing average of 93.00.
After the Sixers’ claimed a thrilling Super Over win over Melbourne Renegades in their semi-final, Perry said it was important for the players to put aside any lingering emotion from the victory.