Darcie Brown, Megan Schutt and Tahlia McGrath.
It’s a fast-paced bowling trio that the South Australian Scorpions seemingly couldn’t afford to miss in this Women’s National Cricket League campaign, but it’s their reality as the Women’s World Cup s unfolded for most of the season.
Throw leg spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington off the absentee list, who is also in New Zealand with the Australian side, and the Scorpions’ bowling attack has been decimated ahead of a tough campaign that would see them on the road for more than three weeks.
However, that didn’t stop them from reaching Sunday’s final against the Tasmanian Tigers, with speedy bowler Ellie Falconer leading her side to a top-two finish.
The right-arm rapid took 14 wickets for the season, the second-most in the competition, and says she relished the opportunity presented by the absence of the state’s star quartet.
“It’s good to contribute,” she said.
“We’re obviously missing a few of our strike bowlers…so that’s good, but I think all the bowlers at all levels have helped and contributed in all the games.
“I guess at the start (of the tournament) you think that with Wello as well, four of the best players in South Australia are gone. But we have total faith and trust in all the other girls in the squad. .
“We knew that if we put in all our best performances, we would be pretty good that day. We have enough confidence in the other girls and the 11 that are there that we could do a pretty good job.”
The absence of McGrath and Schutt in particular, who Falconer said followed on Tuesday as Queensland Fire beat NSW to seal SA’s place in the final, made for a relatively inexperienced side throughout the season.
It makes the path to the decision maker even more important for the 22-year-old, who hails from Clare, nearly 150km north of Adelaide, having taken SA’s course programs from an early age.
She says it has been an incredible achievement to have been part of the progression of her home country’s program.
“It will be really special,” she said.
“Since I’ve been in the SA group we haven’t been in contention for the final. So to finally be up there I think it shows all the work we’ve done over the years (ported its fruit).
“All the work that the coaching staff has done and SACA as a whole to bring in some really good girls and the trust in our backgrounds and the girls that come forward, it’s really nice.
“I hope we can go all the way and that the fact that we are in the final is a good reward for the work that the Scorpions have put in over these years.”
Tasmania’s first order of veterans Rachel Priest and Elyse Villani along with young gun Emma Manix-Geeves has been key to their success this season, with Falconer wary of the threat the Tigers’ batting line-up will pose on Sunday. .
“I think it will be a good challenge between bat and ball; I know Priest has been one of the best scorers in the competition this year and Villani has obviously shown game after game that she can score big totals.” , she said.
“The first wickets will be the key.”
It’s been a bizarre season for Falconer and his Scorpions teammates who, following the completion of the Weber WBBL in November, hardly played cricket until the end of February due to border restrictions.
But it was that late start to the season that Falconer said drove her to his side, knowing they would have to seize every opportunity before them to make the most of another year interrupted by COVID-19.
“Fortunately, we had Big Bash towards the end of October and the end of November, so we had a few games at least,” she said.
“But for the girls who weren’t able to play Big Bash, pre-season was a long, long one.
“We started at the beginning of June, then until February, it was long and a lot of training.
“We’re really grateful to have kicked off those games and played the majority of them. We had a few rain delays and a few games that we missed due to rain. But having the opportunity to get all eight games out of the park, we’re really lucky for that.”
The Scorpions travel to Hobart today for Sunday’s game at Blundstone Arena, moved from its original Friday schedule to allow the Tigers to host the game.