For Chloe Rafferty and the Hobart Hurricanes, WBBL06 has come to an end.
The Melbourne Stars are the only team in the WBBL not to have featured in the finals yet.
But with the return of Meg Lanning for WBBL06, the addition of internationals like Katherine Brunt and Natalie Sciver, and some young guns to keep an eye on like Sophie Day and Tess Flintoff this might be their year.
Unfortunately for the Stars, like several other teams, the season has not gone as planned with both their initial games being abandoned due to wet weather.
But for fast bowler Holly Ferling, there were still plenty of positives for the squad to take away from the limited cricket played on the weekend.
“For us, it was good that Meg lost the first bat flip and then won the second one because we have had the chance to bat and bowl,” says Ferling.
“It’s given us the chance to prove that we are ready with the bat and the ball and we were really pleased that we were able to execute, albeit in different games.
“To have Sophie and Tess out there too and show no signs of nerves was also really positive.”
One other player that made her debut for the Stars on the weekend was Brunt. She may be a veteran – and according to Ferling there may have been a joke about her ‘age’ when Elyse Villani presented her with her cap – but she has also taken the opportunity to start fresh in her stride.
This is the first time Ferling has had the chance to play alongside the English international in the same team but has strong memories of the first time she met her in opposition.
“I must say, I was very scared of her the first time I played against her,” says Ferling.
“She bowled me a bouncer. Not at me. But still a bouncer. I was 17 and she gave me the big ‘fast bowler stare’ and I just giggled because I was so nervous.
“She shook her head at me after that and stormed back to her mark. I was so worried about what I would face the next ball.”
Fortunately, Ferling met Brunt not long after and Ferling can confirm that Brunt is a ‘big softy’ away from the field. She has taken on a leadership role in the Stars set-up, assisting the fast bowlers and also helping to mentor some of the younger players.
One of those younger players is Flintoff, who is competing in the WBBL while juggling her final year of school. For Ferling, this is a real strength of the squad this year. There is a mixture of experienced players and a core group of younger players that Ferling is confident will be the future of the club.
Then there is the x-factor, with the return of Lanning.
“After Meg scored 51 not out against the Renegades, we were all joking that it was her way of telling the competition that she was home,” says Ferling.
“We are so happy she has come back to the Melbourne Stars and she has brought a sense of calmness to the team.
“As a group we feel like we are quite relaxed and that everyone is taking ownership of their role in the team. That’s so important in tournament cricket given how many games you play in such a short space of time; there are going to be changes and our group will need to know their role and execute it.”
For Ferling, one other key component of success this season will be how each team handles the WBBL ‘bubble’. Each of the eight clubs is based in a hub at Sydney Olympic Park for the duration of the tournament. While at the moment hub life is fresh and new, this will change over time.
“When you are in thick of it and playing two days in a row, that’s when it matters how tight your group is and how much you really want it,” says Ferling.
Despite the challenges that the pandemic has brought, for Ferling this has been her best pre-season yet. Throughout her career, the 24-year-old has had several injuries and this is the first time in four years that she has made it through pre-season unscathed.
“As much as I hate the injuries, because you are always trying to work your way back, this period has taught me to be excited by the little things and be grateful for them,” she says.
“I have learnt to control what I can control and let everything else go.”
Those lessons are all applicable to how Ferling has handled her mental health and well-being during a pandemic too.
“This pandemic is going to end at some point and we are all going to come out of it better. You want to do the work now to make sure that you are stronger and more resilient when we come out of it,” she says.
“There is also a real gratefulness to be in the position we are in and to have the chance to play the sport we love.
“We didn’t step off the field against the Thunder until the umpires told us too. We are desperate to play, so hopefully the weather cooperates during the course of the season.”
The Melbourne Stars’ next match is against the Sydney Sixers at 7:05pm (AEST) on Saturday, 31 October.