Delivered with a sincere, knowing smile by Assistant Coach Jude Coleman during the squad’s final training session before departing for Hobart, it is perhaps not a line you would expect to hear from an SA Scorpion on the eve of a huge WNCL Final, but it perfectly encapsulates the culture that has been tirelessly built in Adelaide over a period of years.
A team filled with positive personalities, the Scorpions will take the field tomorrow in search of a second WNCL trophy thanks to a campaign built on a foundation of relentless resilience. Despite playing just two games at home before taking to the road for the remainder of the season, the Final now awaits thanks to several strong performances highlighted by a vital win when it truly mattered.
Entering their final round fixture against Victoria knowing that only a bonus point victory would keep dreams of a fairy-tale title alive, the Scorpions dominated from the opening delivery to emerge triumphant by 125-runs. A true team performance, led by a century from Bridget Patterson and vital wickets to skipper Jemma Barsby and teenage pace prodigy Kate Peterson, the win vaulted them into second place, placing one foot in the Final against Tasmania.
As Coleman, a proud product of Beaudesert in the nation’s north, references with a grin however, it also required a Queensland triumph over NSW in the final game of the regular season, something they achieved at a canter to send Scorpions staff scurrying to secure flights south.
Standing in as Scorpions skipper in the absence of Megan Schutt and Tahlia McGrath, currently representing Australia in the World Cup alongside fellow South Australian’s Darcie Brown and Amanda-Jade Wellington, Barsby still feels nervous recalling that all-important clash.
“I avoided it. I couldn’t watch; I was so nervous. Tuesday was probably the longest day I’ve ever had. We got back from Melbourne and the afternoon took forever. I checked the scores when NSW were six wickets down and then the next few wickets seemed to take so long. It was just unbelievable and so great for us to make the Final.”
Sunday’s decider is a culmination of years of hard work for this close-knit group; a journey forged in the fire of a global pandemic that bred uncertainty around not only every game, but every training session. A revealing insight into the ever-changing nature of the 2021/22 WNCL season is that the Scorpions pre-season connection camp took place in Clare Valley from 25 – 27 August, and due to postponements and cancellations, they didn’t play their season opening clash until 27 February, six months later.
Head Coach Luke Williams couldn’t be prouder of the group for the way they have handled every setback placed in their path this summer.
“Our connection has held us in good stead while on the road and when we haven’t played the cricket we would like; the connection within the group is so important. That camp feels like it was two or three seasons ago; so much has happened since then.
“Over the last couple of years we’ve gathered belief in what we are doing and where we are going, so it certainly won’t be through any lack of belief that we wouldn’t be around the mark on Sunday.”
In addition to developing elite local talent such as Bridget Patterson, Emma de Broughe and Sam Betts, Williams and Coleman have also looked interstate to strengthen the unit. The arrival of Barsby, Josie Dooley, Courtney Webb and Kate Peterson not only shows that South Australia is increasingly viewed as a preferred destination for cricketers, but it also creates a unique culture that has driven the Scorpions into the WNCL Final.
Barsby has loved the challenge of captaincy this season, something evident by the immovable smile affixed to her face throughout the summer.
“It's been a great experience – it can be mentally and emotionally draining, but I have loved every minute of it. I never dreamed I would be captain in a Final, but hopefully we put in a good performance and show Australia what we can do.
“Bridget Patterson put in our Scorps WhatsApp chat the other day a picture that is on her fridge of our last title and how much it means to her. That is the pinnacle. It means so much to everyone in this group to bring back a trophy. It’s exciting times and hopefully we can bring it home.
“I just hope we can make South Australia proud.”
When it comes time for last minute words before the players run onto Blundstone Arena tomorrow morning, Williams says it is all about embracing the opportunity and focusing on what has brought them to Tasmania.
“It has been a team performance so far and that is what is going to be needed on Sunday.”
South Australia face Tasmania in the WNCL Final from 10am ACDT, with fans able to tune in via cricket.com.au and Kayo Sports.
26 March 2022