Sydney Thunder coach Trevor Griffin has named an unchanged 15-player squad that he declared is "fully fit and raring to go" in what's openly considered as two crucial rebel Women’s Big Bash League matches at Sydney Showground Stadium this Tuesday and Wednesday.
After starting the weekend in second place on the competition ladder, Sydney Thunder dropped to fourth position after frustrating back-to-back losses to top-of-the-table Melbourne Stars and the now second-placed Perth Scorchers.
Griffin conceded the two defeats had added extra weight to the importance of Tuesday’s clash with a Renegades outfit that shocked the league on Sunday by defeating the Stars, and Wednesday’s traditionally hard-fought cross-town derby against the Sydney Sixers.
“The weekend didn’t go the way we'd planned," said Griffin. "There was a lot of good cricket that was played by us at times, but there are still some things we haven’t quite fired with.
“We’ve spoken about it; we’re quite clear with our plans, and as far as we’re concerned our WBBL tournament starts on Tuesday against the Renegades.
“As a team we just need to go out there, trust ourselves, and put our best foot forward.”
Griffin acknowledged there were “glimpses” of what Thunder is capable of over the weekend, including skipper Rachael Haynes' 51 against the Stars; Hannah Darlington’s cracking yorker that dismissed Stars and Australian skipper Meg Lanning being backed up by her well-deserved 3-21 against Perth.
He also hailed Heather Knight’s fighting innings of 44 and Sam Bates’s 2-20 against the Scorchers on Sunday as impressive efforts.
“We’ve shown in glimpses what we’re capable of with the quality and talent in this side – we just haven’t quite nailed the [overall] performance,” said Griffin.
The coach signalled out Lauren Smith (pictured), who joined Thunder from the Sixers during the winter, for the positive impact she’s had on the squad since joining it.
“We’ve always known Lauren was a skilful bowler, and, for us, it was simply a matter of giving her that opportunity to go out and perform,” said Griffin.
“The way she’s taken on some different ideas and views about her game has been tremendous. She’s worked incredibly hard, Lauren is great around the group, and her competitiveness on the field is hard to miss.
It’s there in abundance, and you see it in the way she moves; her athleticism is obvious. However, she also has a level-headedness . . . she’s a player who keeps it all in perspective and is one who has fun with it as well.”
Sydney Thunder Squad vs Renegades (17/11) and Sixers (18/11)
Rachael Haynes (c) (15)
Samantha Arnold (3)
Sam Bates (34)
Tammy Beaumont (91)
Hannah Darlington (25)
Saskia Horley (23)
Shabnim Ismail (89)
Sammy-Jo Johnson (58)
Heather Knight (5)
Anika Learoyd (4)
Phoebe Litchfield (36)
Kate Peterson (33)
Lauren Smith (2)
Rachel Trenaman (8)
Tahlia Wilson (21)