Melbourne Renegades received not one, but two welcome gifts on Saturday as they qualified for the Rebel WBBL semi-finals for the first time.
The Renegades became the first Melbourne team ever to advance to the competition’s play-offs when they held on for a narrow three-run win against the Hobart Hurricanes at Melbourne’s CitiPower Centre.
The Renegades now can’t be dislodged from the top four after their main rival for a spot in the play-offs, Perth Scorchers, suffered a heavy defeat to Adelaide Strikers earlier on Saturday.
And shortly after their spot was sealed, the Renegades confirmed England international Danni Wyatt, who had been due to return home to the United Kingdom on Monday for a training camp, would instead remain in Australia for another week to play in Saturday’s semi-final at Drummoyne Oval.
“We thought we wouldn’t have Danni, but England have allowed her to stay out,” Renegades captain Amy Satterthwaite said after play.
“It’s brilliant we’ll have her, a real added bonus for what’s going to be a big game.”
The Scorchers’ loss to Adelaide – which came after another player-of-the-match display from Strikers and New Zealand allrounder Sophie Devine – meant all the Renegades needed to do was win one of their two final matches to seal their top-four finish.
They have one game remaining against reigning champions Sydney Sixers on Sunday, but ensured nothing was left to chance with their victory on Saturday.
Satterthwaite admitted she’d actively avoided finding out the result of the morning’s game in Alice Springs, which ended during the first innings of the match in Melbourne.
“I have to thank my Kiwi counterparts Suzie (Bates) and Sophie (Devine), they made our job easier,” Satterthwaite said.
“I didn’t know the result, I knew the game was progressing but at one point I thought, ‘Right, I’ve got to stop asking and not know what the result is, I’ve got to focus on what we’ve got to do or it’ll be too distracting’.
“Some of the girls knew (the result) and maybe it got to them at times under pressure, we dropped a couple of catches and made it harder than we needed to, but hopefully we can learn from that moving forward.”
Satterthwaite is no stranger to the business end of the WBBL season, having been there twice with the Hobart Hurricanes in WBBL|01 and WBBL|02 before making the move to the Renegades.
Claire Koski is another Renegades player with finals experience, having been part of the Thunder team that claimed the title in WBBL|01, but for the remainder of the squad this will be their first finals campaign.
“It feels amazing, to be honest,” Satterthwaite said of qualifying for the semi-finals. “I’ve been able to be there a couple of times before with the ‘Canes and to be able to get the team there and see the team in a really good place and go one step further than last year is absolutely what we set out to do.
“We started the season out rocky but to be able get a bit of momentum and start playing really good cricket the last couple of weeks has put us in a really good place and I’m just really proud of the way the girls have fought.”
The Renegades will meet the Sydney Sixers at GMHBA Stadium on Sunday, while their semi-final opponent won’t be confirmed until the conclusion of the round matches on Monday.