Rebel WBBL commentators Mel Jones and Lisa Sthalekar have made big calls with their best teams of WBBL|03, choosing to leave international superstar and title-winning Sixers captain Ellyse Perry out of their XIs.
Perry - who was unlikely to be too fazed by the snub after leading her team to back-to-back championships with a nine-wicket win over the Scorchers on Sunday - topped the runs table in WBBL|03, scoring 552 at 46 including three half-centuries, while she also picked up five wickets.
She’s just one of three players to pass 500 runs in a season, alongside Meg Lanning – who managed it in both seasons one and two – and Scorchers captain Elyse Villani, who also reached the mark this season.
Mel Jones’ Best XI of WBBL|03: Beth Mooney (wk) (Heat), Elyse Villani (Scorchers), Rachael Haynes (Thunder), Erin Burns (Sixers), Sophie Devine (Strikers), Amy Satterthwaite (c)(Renegades), Nicola Carey (Thunder), Dane van Niekerk (Sixers), Katherine Brunt (Scorchers), Marizanne Kapp (Sixers), Sam Bates (Thunder)
Lisa Sthalekar’s Best XI of WBBL|03: Beth Mooney (Heat), Elyse Villani (Scorchers), Alyssa Healy (wk)(Sixers), Rachael Haynes (Thunder), Sophie Devine (Strikers), Amy Satterthwaite (c)(Renegades), Dane van Niekerk (Sixers), Katherine Brunt (Scorchers), Marizanne Kapp (Sixers), Sarah Aley (Sixers), Lea Tahuhu (Renegades)
But with those runs coming at a strike-rate of 98.57, below that of the other leading batters in the tournament, Australia greats Jones and Sthalekar both elected to instead install Villani and Beth Mooney at the top of their respective teams.
“(Perry) is the top run scorer, but for me you pick your openers (and) Villani and Mooney will always be your opening bats,” Jones said on Channel 10 during the innings break of Sunday’s final, which the Sixers won by nine wickets.
“As nicely as Perry is striking the ball, her strike-rate is well under par for the T20 game.”
Scorchers captain Villani scored 535 runs at 41.15, with a strike-rate of 125.88, while Heat star Mooney was similarly dynamic, with her 465 runs coming at a competition-high rate of 143.51.
The pair sit level on top of the Official WBBL Batting Rankings, ahead of Alyssa Healy and Rachael Haynes.
"You need to consider who she is up against (for the opening spots)," Sthalekar said.
"You’ve got Mooney and Villani who aren’t that far below her in terms of runs scored but they’re going at a better strike rate. Mel and I always pick sides that are going to play a game of cricket, so we’re not going to slot Perry in at number five, because we think that’s not a suitable position for her."
For the Sixers, Perry forms a potent opening combination with Australia teammate Alyssa Healy, who scored her 421 runs at a strike rate of 136.68 throughout WBBL|03.
With big-hitting Ashleigh Gardner at No.3, she does often have the luxury of playing the anchor role for the Sixers.
Nevertheless, strike-rate is an area Perry, the reigning ICC Cricketer of the Year, has been working on as she continues to take her batting game from strength to strength.
"It’s been nice to be consistent," Perry said last month. "I think I need to have a little bit more impact at different times in terms of strike-rate.
"It’s been nice to be up the top and bat around people like Alyssa (Healy) and Ashleigh (Gardner) and also Erin Burns, who I think has been absolutely wonderful for us this season.
"That’s worked well for us and it’s just about identifying times when I need to push on and take over that (dominant scoring role)."
WBBL|03 is the first time Perry, who bats at No.4 for Australia in T20Is, has passed 500 runs in a single season, easily eclipsing the 430 she scored in WBBL|01 and the 384 she posted in an injury-interrupted WBBL|02.
She was also able to up the ante in several big knocks for the Sixers through WBBL|03, notably in her blazing 91no from just 49 balls against Melbourne Stars at North Sydney Oval.
But she became bogged down in the semi-final against the Strikers on Friday, reaching 16 from 31 deliveries before holing out chasing boundaries.
"For some parts I’ve done that well and other times it’s still a really great challenge for me to keep doing that better," Perry added.
Aside from Perry’s absence, both Jones and Sthalekar’s teams featured a host of the world’s top players, with the Sixers fielding more players than any other team after winning back-to-back titles.
Renegades captain and WBBL|03 player of the tournament Amy Satterthwaite unsurprisingly got the nod by both Jones and Sthalekar after scoring 368 runs and taking 11 wickets, as did Thunder opener Haynes after scoring 426 runs at 30.42, while Strikers allrounder Sophie Devine, Sixers imports Dane van Niekerk and Marizanne Kapp, and Scorchers quick Katherine Brunt received similar treatment.
South Africa’s van Niekerk took 20 wickets in 12 matches before departing on international duties, while Proteas teammate Kapp enjoyed another miserly summer in magenta, bowling at an economy rate of 4.72 and taking 12 wickets.
Brunt (23 wickets at 11.34) finished on top of the wickets tally, while Devine (355 runs, 17 wickets) was impressive with both bat and ball.