Big-hitting Harris adds spice to Strikers showdown

2 months ago 5

Grace Harris and her fit-again sister Laura have inspired Brisbane's big totals this season but will be tested against the competition's best bowling unit

Perth Scorchers v Brisbane Heat | Challenger | WBBL|09

Grace Harris has vowed the Brisbane Heat will bring their 'go hard or go home' batting approach to Saturday's WBBL|09 final, which is set to pit the season's most explosive batting outfit against the strongest bowling attack.

The Heat steamrolled both the Thunder and Scorchers on consecutive days in Perth to cement their date with the Strikers in the decider at Adelaide Oval.

It will be their first appearance in a WBBL final since 2019 and sets up a rematch of that game, which saw the Heat seal back-to-back titles with victory over Adelaide at Allan Border Field.

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Saturday's game will also be a rematch of last year's Challenger final, where eventual champions Strikers overcame the Heat at Karen Rolton Oval.

That encounter produced some spicy pre-game chat, with Strikers star Megan Schutt labelling the Heat's style of cricket "arrogant".

A year later, Harris was happy to laugh off the jibe.

"It's kind of like a pot calling the kettle black, coming from Schutter, come on now," Harris laughed.

"But you know, I don't really read too much into it, it doesn't really bother me that much, because you can do all the talking you want, but it comes down to how you go out in the field.

"Schutter's a great competitor, she's very successful with the new ball, she has played outstanding cricket throughout her entire career and she's still playing good cricket so she's always a challenge up front.

"If you can talk the talk and then walk the walk, so be it, good on you.

"But we just want to play our brand new of cricket and we just keep it about our own execution and how we play."

Harris hits rapid fifty to lay foundation for Heat

The Heat have compiled 11 totals in excess of 150 from 16 games this season, more than any other team.

They have also been the fastest scoring team in WBBL|09, going at 8.42 runs per over.

Conversely, the Strikers – who possess an all-star attack featuring Darcie Brown, Megan Schutt, Amanda-Jade Wellington and Tahlia McGrath among others – have been the most economical team of the tournament, limiting scoring against them to 6.48rpo.

11 of Brisbane Heat's players this season have scored at better than the tournament average batting strike rate of 117.79.

7 of Adelaide Strikers' 8 bowlers used this season have gone at better than the season average economy rate of 7.39 rpo.#WBBL09

— hypocaust (@_hypocaust) November 29, 2023

"We're not lacking in belief, when we play our game we're pretty good, we're a pretty good side," Harris said.

"We've got a really balanced unit.

"If anything, we're maybe one pace bowler short but I think our batting more than covers what we can do with the ball. If we just put a complete performance together, we're definitely competitive.

"We're clicking together and we're just owning our roles at the moment.

"We want to play an aggressive brand of cricket and we knew at the start of the season that might be a bit inconsistent – you might have a few hits and misses – but we've scored 11 150-plus totals so you've got to be happy about that."

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Harris has hit a career-best 486 runs this season to sit fifth on the overall runs table, bettering the 420 runs at a strike rate of 123.16 she scored in 2021.

She has only passed 50 on three occasions in 16 innings, but her runs have come at a remarkable strike rate of 171.12.

Of every player to have batted this season, only two have scored their runs faster: Harris' sister, Laura (55 runs at 200 from three innings) and Thunder tailender Lauren Bell (four runs off one ball).

The next highest striker is Amy Jones (262 runs in 12 innings at 151.44).

"I'm a strike-rate batter, so I know that my role within the team is to get the team off to a good start, take advantage of the Powerplay (and) try and do it at a 180 to 200 strike rate, which is what I'm capable of," Harris said.

"And when you're a strike-rate batter, you're going to be inconsistent a bit but I'm happy owning that role."

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Harris' sister Laura has returned to the Heat line-up in the past week after missing the first 13 games of the season due to a frustratingly persistent calf injury.

The 33-year-old is one of the hardest hitters in the game and adds immense firepower to an already imposing Heat middle-order.

On Wednesday, her 24 from 11 deliveries ensured the Heat kept their momentum going after the wickets of Grace and Amelia Kerr, helping them post 5-197 – the highest total in a WBBL finals game.

The Heat have now won all three games since her return, having lost three on the trot before that, and Harris said it was no coincidence.

"Laura brings that x-factor to our middle-order," she said.

"Everyone on the bench actually sits forward because we're like, 'we don't know what's going to happen here'.

"Everyone elevates their game when we've got her back too, because they're like, 'Oh, she's going, I'm going too'."

WBBL Finals

The Eliminator: Brisbane Heat beat Sydney Thunder by 44 runs

The Challenger: Brisbane Heat beat Perth Scorchers by 67 runs

The Final: Adelaide Strikers v Brisbane Heat | Adelaide Oval | December 2 at 7.10pm AEDT (6.40pm ACDT)

Grab your tickets or tune in on the Seven Network, Fox Cricket, Kayo or ABC radio

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