01 February 2010
Five in a row adds another great chapter
Breakers build on proud history...
Winning a fifth straight Women’s National Cricket League title adds another chapter to the proud history of the NSW Breakers.
By defeating Victoria at the MCG last Saturday (January 30) by 59 runs, the Breakers ensured the Ruth Preddy Trophy would return to Sydney for the 12th time in the WNCL’s 14 year history.
This current run of five consecutive WNCL titles started in 2005/06 with a thrilling win over Queensland in the best of three Finals series at North Sydney Oval. That year the Breakers won the third and deciding match by just two runs.
The following year they lost three of their opening four preliminary matches before sneaking into the Finals thanks to a stack of bonus points. They flew to Melbourne and beat Victoria two games to one for back-to-back trophies.
In 2007/08, NSW finished 8.5 points clear on the competition ladder to host the Final.
That season the Finals format was changed to a one-off match, and when the decider against South Australia at the SCG was washed out, the Breakers were presented a 10th title by virtue of finishing on top of the ladder.
NSW hosted the Final again the following season, this time demolishing Victoria by six wickets with 94 balls to spare, completing an undefeated season in the process.
This year’s title marked an amazing turnaround for the Breakers who were humbled by Victoria in the Twenty20 Final at the Adelaide Oval.
It took a lot of soul searching and old fashioned hard work for the team to prepare for the 50 over decider, also against the Vics, just seven days later.
“It was disappointing. The girls were angry and annoyed at the way that they played (in Adelaide),” revealed captain, Lisa Sthalekar.
“We worked really hard in the week leading up to the WNCL Final. We got our minds right and focused on the job at hand. We did everything we needed to take the edge away from them,” she said.
The hard work paid off, leading to one of the most passionate renditions of a team song ever seen in the caverns of the MCG.
A total of 24 players have represented NSW during this five season winning streak, with only six players turning out in all five premiership campaigns.
They are opening batters Leah Poulton and Alex Blackwell, middle order batters Lisa Sthalekar and Kate Blackwell, and bowlers Sarah Aley and Sarah Andrews.
They have been the core of the team, regularly featuring with bat, ball or in the field. This summer Alex Blackwell (489 runs) was the second leading run scorer in 50 over cricket, with Lisa Sthalekar (368 runs) sixth.
Sarah Andrews (14 wickets) was one of the top 10 bowlers while Leah Poulton (201 runs) was the leading batter in Twenty20 cricket.
But importantly, there have been plenty of young players coming through the ranks.
This season 19-year-old, Alyssa Healy, set a new WNCL record for the most dismissals by a wicketkeeper with 11 catches and nine stumpings. Fellow teenager, Ellyse Perry, was the leading bowler with 21 scalps.
Off-spinner, Erin Osborne, was last season’s leading wicket taker and this summer was named Player of the Final. Rookie leg-spinner Angela Reakes has also impressed along with all-rounder Sarah Coyte.
“I am very proud of the girls,” said Sthalekar soon after raising the Trophy.
“If you look at when I first started captaining, the team was vastly different to now. For each girl to come in and make their mark is a huge credit to them.”
Sthalekar herself is firmly entrenched in the history of NSW women’s cricket.
Not only has she led NSW to the last five titles, she has played in 13 consecutive deciders, winning 11 of them. She has also played the most WNCL matches of anyone, with 124 caps to her name.
And while Sthalekar may be the oldest member of the team, she definitely isn’t thinking of retirement just yet!
“Nothing beats playing for NSW and walking on the field. I still want to continue to play and as long as I am playing well and contributing to all facets of the game, then I’ll continue to do so!”
NSW Breakers players – 2005/06 – 2009/10
Lisa Sthalekar*, Alex Blackwell*, Leah Poulton*, Michelle Goszko, Kate Blackwell*, Martha Winch, Jenny Wallace, Julie Hayes, Sarah Aley*, Sarah Andrews*, Emma Liddell, Nicole Goodwin, Charlotte Anneveld, Leonie Coleman, Rene Farrell, Sharon Millanta, Alyssa Healy, Ellyse Perry, Lisa Kuschert, Corinne Hall, Erin Osborne, Sarah Coyte, Angela Reakes, Claire Koski
*Played every season between 2005/06 and 2009/10.