Katherine Brunt is ready for the approaching heatwave as Perth Scorchers prepare to face Brisbane Heat in the first Women's Big Bash League (WBBL) semi-final tomorrow.
The Yorkshire Diamonds and England all-rounder has been a pivotal presence during the Scorchers’ title charge in her second successive stint with the side. Together with England team-mate Anya Shrubsole, the pair will be hoping to power the home side over the line at the WACA.
Second-placed Scorchers face a Brisbane Heat team that finished third in the WBBL standings and, with the honours even at one win each this campaign, there is little to separate the sides heading into the knockout clash.
Currently sitting top of the WBBL all-rounder stats, Brunt is determined to go one better than last year's showing: “For me it’s a percentages game. Twenty20 cricket is massively a percentages game and it’s about who’s braver for longer. I guess the braver team will take more risks.
“In terms of percentages, it’s who bowls the ball mostly in the good area, who holds their skill and who plays with the most control. We’ve been doing that so far and that’s why we’ve got to the semis, so we’re right up there with the dot-ball percentage and taking wickets at regular intervals.
“I think that will be the key to our success.”
Both sides feature a number of well-known internationals and Brunt is keen to minimise the influence of Heat players such as Beth Mooney – the second-highest run scorer in this season's edition – and Women's World Twenty20 winner Deandra Dottin.
“Obviously Beth Mooney’s been quite key for them to bat through the innings and we'll also look to keep the power hitter Deandra Dottin quiet.
“I think we’ve got to expose them. With Beth, it's bowling as many dot balls as we can to aggravate her into making a mistake. That’s what we did to Beth the first time we won and we know what we did wrong the second time around, so we have that learning experience to deal with her.
“With Deandra it’s almost about letting her get herself out. There’s only so much you can control in the game and you go from there so it’s simple but quite effective.
“In T20 cricket you have to take those risks and be brave so we’ll just do what we do best and that’s bowl with control. If they take the risk we’ll be there and ready to take the chances.”
Brunt and Shrubsole aren't the only England representatives in the knockout stages, with captain Heather Knight set to lead Hobart Hurricanes in the second semi-final against Sydney Sixers, Lauren Winfield lining up for the Heat and wicketkeeper Amy Jones appearing for the Sixers.
With a guaranteed England presence in the final, Brunt understands the huge benefits that come with playing in the competition.
“It’s brilliant that all our girls play in different countries and on different continents. They experience playing cricket on different surfaces and in different climates – you can never have enough experience of that.
“Mingling with other world-class players and gaining their knowledge and insight into how they think as batsmen, how they prepare and perform with a World Cup coming around is key.
“You get to share experiences but also learn from others going forwards and keep yourself in form all year round. The girls are training really hard back home and that’s brilliant but you can’t replicate playing outdoors and being in pressure situations in semi-finals and the finals.
“I think it’s massive for us to be involved in such situations because as the overseas players it doesn’t get any more pressured. You’re there for a job and you’re expected to perform so the pressure is twice as much as you could imagine if you were a local player.
“It’s great to be put under that stress and be able to perform under it and really learn from it, either from your success or your mistakes. That’s going to be huge for us going into the World Cup in June. It’s been a really special time for us and we can only get better from here.”
Women's Big Bash League semi-finals
Tuesday 24 January: Perth Scorchers v Brisbane Heat
Wednesday 25 January: Sydney Sixers v Hobart Hurricanes