With six games in two days and not many more after that before the top-four is locked in, the WBBL is gearing up for a monster weekend of fixtures as finals fast approaches.
The magic number is 15. Traditionally that’s the minimum points requirement to secure a finals berth and no team is yet to reach that bar, leaving the jostle for finals positions wide open.
“It looks like at the moment there’s five teams vying for four spots,” Fox Cricket expert Mel Jones told News Corp.
“Mathematically yes, a few teams are still in the hunt, but it’s going to be exceptionally hard.”
Saturday’s Heat-Hurricanes blockbuster in Adelaide looms as a pivotal one for both teams, with ladder-leaders Brisbane on the cusp of securing a finals berth while Hobart is head down chasing the Scorchers for fourth spot.
“The one that’s in the mix at the moment is the Hurricanes,” Jones said.
“From memory they have to win three of their next five (to make finals).”
The Heat will be sweating on the fitness of wicketkeeper and WBBL leading run-scorer Georgia Redmayne for the clash, who retired hurt in their 33-run win over the Scorchers on Wednesday.
Brisbane may hold top spot but it’s the Sixers, with games in-hand, who look the most likely minor premier.
Ellyse Perry’s team heads to Melbourne this weekend for games against the Stars and Scorchers; win both and they will be in the box seat to secure direct entry to host the final on November 26.
But there’s plenty to play between now and then, and last season’s grand finalists the Strikers have defied the absence of skipper Tahlia McGrath to remain, in Jones’ eyes, the only team that can push the Sixers for the minor premiership.
The Scorchers meanwhile need more from Beth Mooney and Sophie Devine if they are to repeat their title-winning ways of last season. Sunday’s meeting with the Sixers in St Kilda could be a make-or-break game in the context of their finals hopes.
“Scorchers-Sixers is a massive one,” former Australian cricketer Julia Price told News Corp.
“Mooney has only had one really good score and Sophie Devine hasn’t hit her straps yet so they’re scrambling a little. They become vulnerable there in that fourth spot so it’s really important they step it up for that one.”
The Stars snapped a three-game losing run against cross-town rivals the Renegades earlier this season and they can heap more misery on them with another win on Sunday.
Both teams may be out of the finals race but pride – and World Cup places – are still up for grabs.
“I think it’s always going to be a massive game between those two teams,” Price said.
“They still have a lot of pride to play for; you don’t want to be beaten by your cross-town rivals. Plus, there’s still a few spots up for grabs in the World Cup this year and that’s probably on the minds of some people.
“It’s still an important game for many reasons.”
Originally published as WBBL 2022: Expert Mel Jones previews finals shaping weekend of action