The coaches of last year’s Premier Cricket women’s 50-over finalists believe the postponed national league fixtures are a blessing in disguise for the local competition.
WA’s Women’s National Cricket League campaign was due to begin last weekend, but border restrictions mean they will now not play their first game until mid February.
While the postponement will be disappointing to the state’s top players, Midland-Guildford coach David Saunders said the postponed national fixtures could have a silver lining for this year’s A Grade 50-over competition, which begins this weekend.
“Now the WNCL games have been postponed, it looks like most of the the state players will be here at least for the first four, maybe six games,” Saunders said.
“It’s already changed twice in the last month, but at the moment, they might cancel and the girls might be here for the whole season, which would be really good for the local competition.”
Saunders’ thoughts were echoed by Subiaco-Floreat coach Nicole Bolton, who said it was an excellent opportunity for the younger, up-and-coming players in the league to learn off the more-experiences veterans.
“For the young girls, it’s all about creating enough opportunities around experienced players to still allow them to grow as players, almost as state players become on-field coaches, so I think it’s a really unique opportunity for everyone.”
“It will be a really good test for the majority of the Subiaco-Floreat girls to come up against some really strong players and I think with the training that we’ve sort of put in and those people actually having a role and taking that ownership, I think they’re going to really enjoy that challenge,” she said.
Bolton said having the state players available would significantly raise the standard of play in an already competitive league.
“It’s huge not only for the young girls to have experienced players come back in and learn, but I think also there’s a whole competition it makes a lot more competitive,” she said.
“I know the WA state girls are hanging out just to play some competitive cricket so they’ve been training since late May, they’re actually really looking forward to getting back at club land, stepping out and playing some 50-over cricket.”
Midland-Guildford took home last year’s 50-over trophy after a dominant victory over Subiaco-Floreat in the final. In his first season as coach of the reigning champions, Saunders said he knew his side would have a target on their back.
Saunders said he expected the evenness of this year’s Twenty20 league, which resulted in Melville holding on to claim a heart-stopping victory over South Perth, to carry over into the 50-over season.
“It’s a bit of a poisoned chalice being the defending champion to some degree because everyone wants to knock you off,” he said.
“On their day, any of them can win. Each team has match-winners in it.”
Bolton, who will take the field for Subiaco-Floreat after calling time on an illustrious Perth Scorchers and state career, said this season promised to be more competitive than usual.
“I think across the board with the other teams, when the state players headed out, they were a little bit depleted,” she said.
“But I feel like this year across the board, all the clubs are relevant. Whether they’ve got their state players or not, they’re actually quite even.”
In the opening round of games, Midland-Guildford host Melville at Lilac Hill, while South Perth take on Subiaco-Floreat at Richardson Park.