Ashes-retaining captain says Sydney Thunder-Melbourne Stars Border Bash match will exceed last year

Sydney Thunder's Rachael Haynes makes her ground in last year's inaugural WBBL Border Bash match against Melbourne Stars.
Sydney Thunder's Rachael Haynes makes her ground in last year's inaugural WBBL Border Bash match against Melbourne Stars.

Australia’s Ashes-retaining captain says spectators will see a vast improvement on last year’s inaugural Border WBBL clash.

Rachael Haynes, who just led Australia against England, top-scored for Sydney Thunder in the eight-wicket win over Melbourne Stars.

“You look at the standard of the game and how much it’s evolved, even more recently,” she said.

“Players are playing this format a lot more than what they did, they’re backing themselves a lot more and they’re going for their shots.

“I think we’re seeing that in terms of runs being scored and how quickly they’re being scored, it’s the same with the men’s game too.

“I think it’s a really exciting time for the game.”

Haynes’ summation will excite fans for the return match at Lavington Sportsground on Tuesday, December 12.

“It’s becoming a bit of an annual tradition, so we’re really looking forward to getting down there,” Haynes said.

“It was a great community event last year and we had plenty of support for both teams.”

The players were delighted with the estimated crowd of 2000 for the women’s morning match, which will again be played for competition points.

The Thunder boast three internationals in Indian superstar Harmanpreet Kaur, big-hitting West Indian Stafanie Taylor and New Zealand wicketkeeper Rachel Priest, who spent the past two years at the Melbourne Renegades.

But Haynes maintains there’s a number of relatively unknown players who could surprise.

“I think perhaps some of the local girls as well will have a great opportunity to play in front of a crowd, so the likes of Naomi Stalenberg, Nicola Carey, Maisy Gibson,” she said.

“They’re some of the young and really exciting players coming through for our team.”

Gibson is a right-arm leg-spinner, who’s overcome two knee reconstructions to take 15 wickets in only 12 games.

Carey is an all-rounder, the left-hander boasting a highest score of 53 and best bowling of 4-12.

Stalenberg is another all-rounder, who, like Carey, has also represented Australia at T20 level.

The Stars-Thunder match starts at 2pm.

The season starts on Saturday with the Thunder facing the Renegades at North Sydney Oval, while the Stars meet the Sydney Sixers at the same venue.

The Thunder won the inaugural WBBL title, but the Sixers stole that crown by toppling Perth Scorchers last season.