Not even a 4.15am alarm was enough to dampen Tahlia McGrath’s enthusiasm for a second consecutive Weber WBBL final and an opportunity to finally claim the piece of silverware that has eluded the Adelaide Strikers.
The Strikers captain managed a solid three hours’ sleep following Thursday’s dramatic final-over Challenger win over the Brisbane Heat, a luxurious amount compared to some of her teammates.
With COVID continuing to cause problems for the travel industry, a 6am departure was the only flight available to ferry the victors to Sydney for the WBBL|08 final, but the Adelaide group were taking it in their stride in the early hours of Friday morning.
“I woke up with plenty of energy and feeling good to go,” McGrath told reporters in Sydney on Friday morning, a little over 12 hours after her team defeated the Heat.
“It was pretty hard to get to sleep last night, the adrenaline was certainly there … but we’re here now, we’re here in Sydney and we’ve got a job to do.
“I don’t really think you need too much prep to get yourself up for (a final) … it’s going to be an incredible atmosphere, it’s something we’ve been working for all season and nothing’s going to get in the way of that.”
The Strikers are being driven by a shot at redemption after falling short to Perth Scorchers in last year’s decider.
The bulk of their playing group is the same as the cohort that fell to the Scorchers by 12 runs at Optus Stadium, with some left in tears after falling at the final hurdle.
They also finished runners-up in WBBL|05 final in 2019, going down to the Heat at Allan Border Field.
“This is the one that’s been missing, this is the one that we’re hungry for,” McGrath said.
“Finals pressures is like no other and we got valuable experience last year.
“Losing a final is never easy. We were pretty disappointed last year and we’ve used that to drive that hunger this whole season.
“So we go out there with no fear, we’ll play our best cricket and we want to be holding that trophy pretty bad tomorrow night.”
Last year, Adelaide had to win back-to-back elimination matches to secure their place in the final, fighting their way from fourth position.
This time, finishing the regular season in second spot afforded them a more straightforward route to the big dance.
While the Sixers have won their last five matches, the Strikers have also been on a hot streak, winning back-to-back games over the Hurricanes and Thunder at North Sydney Oval last weekend before overcoming the Heat in the Challenger.
“Last night was huge for us, we found a way to win,” McGrath said.
“There were some really special individual performances and we’ve just got a real team that gels and someone different stands up every time.
“We’ve definitely got some momentum, we played two really good games here last week.”
Given North Sydney Oval’s reputation as a batting paradise, the Strikers’ star-studded attack will have to be on their game against a Sydney Sixers batting line-up featuring Alyssa Healy, Suzie Bates, Ellyse Perry, Ashleigh Gardner, Erin Burns and Nicole Bolton .
But McGrath backed in her key weapons – pace bowlers Darcie Brown, Megan Schutt and Deandra Dottin, and spinners Amanda-Jade Wellington and Jemma Barsby – to get the job done.
She also declared herself ready to take the ball if required. McGrath did not bowl through the second half of the regular season after missing two matches with a back complaint, but she took the ball in Thursday’s final, sending down two overs.
“Our bowling attack’s been our strength – we’ve got that much variety, we can defend low totals, we can restrict teams,” McGrath said.
“We’ve done it game after game so we go in full of confidence.
“(The Sixers) play an exciting brand of cricket … they’ve been the benchmark for the competition.
“It’s a hugely respected opposition we’re coming up against but at the same time, I think our team is just as good and I don’t think we’ve played our best cricket yet.”
The Eliminator: Brisbane Heat defeat Hobart Hurricanes by 44 runs
The Challengers: Adelaide Strikers defeat Brisbane Heat by six wickets
The Final: Sydney Sixers v Adelaide Strikers | North Sydney Oval | November 26 at 5.20pm AEDT
Grab your tickets or tune in on the Seven Network, Fox Cricket, Kayo or ABC radio
Tickets for Weber WBBL and KFC BBL games are on sale now. Get yours at cricket.com.au/big-bash