The Melbourne Stars team that Nat Sciver walked back into at the start of this season was a far different one to the franchise she left four years ago. So too, it would have been for Meg Lanning, who the Stars fought so desperately to bring back this summer.
Both arrived from Perth, along with Sciver’s fellow English allrounder Katherine Brunt. And at the Stars they all joined Elyse Villani, who like Lanning, made the move home to Victoria last summer after a stint at the Scorchers.
Together, the quartet have helped turned the Stars from one of the most frustrating sides in the WBBL’s history to finally fulfilling their potential. They have taken a team which finished last a year ago to their first finals series in the competition’s six-year history.
It is therefore fitting that the Stars’ biggest WBBL match will be against the Scorchers in Wednesday night’s semi-final.
“Obviously it’s a team a lot of players at the Stars know pretty well,” Sciver said. “But in terms of the difference in the [Stars] teams, the difference has been massive. Some of the personnel has changed and we have a different coach now who has brought in different ideas. It was a chance for us to have a new start.”
The Stars’ old Scorchers quartet have been the story of their march to the top of the ladder. Lanning is the competition’s second top run-scorer with 458 at 45.8, while her combination with Villani up top makes them so dangerous. Sciver is the competition’s equal-leading wicket-taker with 18 at 14.33.
Their performances have helped mainstays Alana King and South African Mignon du Preez have their best campaigns. “It’s been a good group to start something new,” Sciver said. “I think the girls who have been there the last couple of years have welcomed the change.”
Since their exits, the Scorchers have fared just as well to pick up Beth Mooney and Sophie Devine. An opening pair who are arguably the most destructive in the competition, they are ready to take it to the Stars on the tiny North Sydney Oval.
“I feel like their [Stars] bowling line-up hasn’t been put under a lot of pump in the tournament,” Mooney said. “There are different ways to expose their line-up and make sure we put ourselves in positions to take the game on.”