Home comforts and a dash of humility have helped the Sydney Sixers soar from Weber WBBL cellar dwellers to hot favorites to claim a third title in tomorrow’s final.
The Sixers were a notable absentee from the last three WBBL finals campaigns after making the final in each of the first four seasons, a golden run that included back-to-back titles.
Their WBBL|07 campaign was unquestionably their nadir, they won just four matches for the season and finished in eighth spot after losing their final six matches, despite boasting what was, on paper, a squad packed with talent.
Much of that talent returned for WBBL|08 and the only significant changes were the arrival of new coach Charlotte Edwards, who took over from Ben Sawyer after his departure to coach New Zealand’s women, and the recruitment of two fresh imports in Sophie Ecclestone and Suzie Bates.
But a return to normality after two years in hubs, combined with lessons learned from seasons past seasons and a certain je ne sais quoi in the current team dynamic, have all combined in a perfect recipe for success in WBBL|08.
“There was just a sense before we even started playing that everyone was really looking forward to (this season) and just felt refreshed and ready to go,” Perry told reporters in Sydney on Friday.
“I think we learned a lot from last year too and there’s nothing wrong with a sense of humility around things at times, I think you take a lot from that.
“It was certainly a challenge on the field (but) off the field we still really enjoyed the time we spent together.
“I do think our group does thrive with being able to go home and get away from cricket a little bit, so this year has been really refreshing.
“I think one of the key things of our season has just been how much we’ve enjoyed one another’s company when we’ve had the chance to hang out.
“So it’s culminated in it being really enjoyable season for us this year.”
The Sixers dropped just two matches as they finished on top of the table and claimed the direct path to a home final.
Of the two matches they did lose, one of those, against the Strikers, went down to the final ball and resulted in a three-run defeat.
In that game at Karen Rolton Oval, the Sixers were floundering at 6-94 chasing 143 before Erin Burns’ 38-ball 71 almost stole a miraculous win.
Reflecting after that game, allrounder Ashleigh Gardner said the nature of that defeat demonstrated the shift in the Sixers’ mindset this season.
“We knew that we weren’t that far off and we really fought, where I think in the past, we probably would have fallen into a heap,” Gardner told cricket.com.au.
“I just think that the spirits are high. We’re all having fun. We’re all playing with a smile on our face, which ultimately means that you’re probably enjoying it, which we might not have been last year.”
While the Strikers played a dramatic Challenger against the Heat on Thursday in Adelaide before boarding a 6am flight to Sydney, the Sixers had precious time to recover and prepare while they waited to find out who their opponent would be.
Some commentators have suggested the week off could potentially stall momentum before the final, but Perry said her side had used it to their advantage.
“We’ve been really lucky to have a week at home,” she said.
“I think given the density of the competition and how many games we’ve played in such a short period of time, this week is a real advantage.
“Having played just last weekend, we’re feel like we’re close, and also having the chance to train and work on what you want to this week is probably unique given the competition, often you don’t have a chance to work on things, youre just playing games.
“I think everyone got a chance to say work on something or get what they needed out … it was also just a really great chance to spend some more time together.
“There were lots of smiles still, some good laughs but also just an awareness of making the most of this week and feeling nice and fresh for Saturday.”
A sell-out crowd is expected to pile into North Sydney Oval on Saturday evening, with the first ball to be bowled at 5.20pm AEDT.
The Eliminator: Brisbane Heat defeat Hobart Hurricanes by 44 runs
The Challengers: Adelaide Strikers defeat Brisbane Heat by six wickets
The Final: Sydney Sixers v Adelaide Strikers | North Sydney Oval | November 26 at 5.20pm AEDT
Grab your tickets or tune in on the Seven Network, Fox Cricket, Kayo or ABC radio
Tickets for Weber WBBL and KFC BBL games are on sale now. Get yours at cricket.com.au/big-bash