Dane Van Niekerk helped rescue the Sixers’ innings. Picture: AAP
Dane Van Niekerk helped rescue the Sixers’ innings. Picture: AAP

Practice pays off as Sixers avoid disaster

At one point during Saturday's WBBL semi-final against Melbourne Renegades the Sydney Sixers were 3-19 after five overs.

Alyssa Healy went for one, Ash Gardner four, Erin Burns was out on one too.

But when Dane Van Niekerk padded up and headed out to join Ellyse Perry in the middle with the Sixers 4-33 near the halfway point of the innings, there was no panic.

Because they had practised for this exact situation.

"The biggest thing this week was there was probably a few people write a couple of things about a couple of our batting collapses and that's legitimate, it's almost like you get three or four out and we're all out," Sixers coach Ben Sawyer said.

"This week epitomises what we're about, all week we spoke about being four down and what would we do.

"We were lucky enough to grab a centre wicket at a school and just practice scenarios of being four down and trying to get to 130, which ridiculously was what we got (on Saturday)."

 

Sixers pair Dane Van Niekerk and Ellyse Perry run between wickets. Picture: AAP
Sixers pair Dane Van Niekerk and Ellyse Perry run between wickets. Picture: AAP

Ellyse Perry continued her spectacular form with her sixth half century, carrying her bat for the seventh time this season, but her part in the dramatic super over win began well before she took to the pitch on Saturday afternoon.

"That part of it (steadying the innings), a lot of that is down to the planning and a lot of the planning comes down to Pez," Sawyer said.

"That's a great example of the work that goes into it. We know if Pez and 'Midge' (Alyssa Healy) and Ash (Gardner) come off, we'll get big scores and that will take care of itself, but how do we get 130 when that doesn't quite work.

"Practising all that all week, I said that to them in the change rooms (after the semi), everything that happened there, Burnsy's save, they're all massive moments, but for me the proudest thing was to get to 130 when you were 4-30."

Somewhat lost in Perry's heroics with bat and ball and the thrilling final-ball finish and super over decider was the efforts of Van Niekerk.

Ellyse Perry hits a six to seal victory for the Sixers. Picture: AAP
Ellyse Perry hits a six to seal victory for the Sixers. Picture: AAP

 

The South Africa captain produced her highest score of the season with a 51 not out when the pressure was on and delivered after she had batted just eight times in 15 innings, three of those in the first three matches.

"Unbelievable because she probably hasn't done it. The three times we haven't been able to do it, she hasn't been able to do it," Sawyer said.

"It is tough because 10 of the 14 games we don't need them, and I don't mean that in a bad way, but Pez and Midge and Ash got it done and they don't get much of a hit and then you throw them in the deep end and they can't do it because they haven't had match practice. It's that real conundrum.

"To practise it this week and for it to come off was really pleasing, that's the most pleasing part."

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