This book will be available to purchase at the SACA office from Tuesday, 1 June. View the second of our featured stories below:
By Michael Sexton
The sound of singing and dancing that could be heard outside the visitors’ changeroom at Sydney’s Hurstville Oval told everyone within earshot the decade-long reign of New South Wales was over and there was a new champion of the Women’s National Cricket League.
It was November 2015 and South Australia had knocked the Breakers off their perch with an emphatic 54-run victory. Leading the celebration was wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor, who had set the win up with 110 off 106 balls to cap an extraordinary season. “These things don’t happen very often, so you have to enjoy the moment,” she shouted over the cacophony.
Taylor was playing for the Scorpions during the English winter and had added some extra punch to a maturing line-up. Along the way she also made a piece of history by being the first woman to play in a men’s A-grade cricket match in Australia when she kept for Northern Districts against Port Adelaide in October 2015.
The previous summer Taylor had been part of the SA team that had been beaten by NSW in the final. It was the 10th consecutive time the Breakers had won the Ruth Preddy Cup – the 17th in 19 seasons in all – and the Scorpions’ 144-run humiliation in the final was not forgotten. Their off-season focus was on the opening round of the 2015-16 season when the States faced off again, this time at the WACA.
The result was a heartstopping one-run victory. SA won the toss and put 281 on the board with Taylor leading the way with 101 and Bridget Patterson and Lauren Ebsary each scoring 72. NSW looked like passing the total with Alex Blackwell scoring an unbeaten 118. But it was swing bowler Megan Schutt who ripped through the tail to secure the victory, claiming a stunning hat-trick and finishing with four wickets.
“After last year’s loss to them in the final, we were all pretty keen to get out there and take it one step further,” she said after the match. “We definitely believe we can take it one step further.”
However, the loss was the only blemish for NSW leading up to the final which was being played at batter-friendly Hurstville Oval, the home State heavily favoured to win yet another trophy.
It was SA though that took control with the bat. Patterson and Taylor put on 181 for the second wicket with the English star blasting 14 boundaries in her century. When 17-year-old Lauren Cheatle made the breakthrough, the visitors were 2/193 but they struggled in the middle-order before a final flurry of 21 from Tahlia McGrath took the total to 7/264 off the 50 overs.
If the batting had been carried by a few then the bowling and fielding was a team effort. Two of NSW’s top three batters were run out. When Australian wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy was caught by Amanda-Jade Wellington off Sarah Coyte for 37 the defending champions were wobbling at 3/68. The pressure came from all directions with six South Australians taking wickets. When off-spinner Alex Price clean bowled Cheatle the victory was complete – the giants of women’s cricket had been humbled, all out for 210 in 46 overs.
Soon after the dancing and singing began.