Silver lining for depleted underdogs

Following an underwhelming tournament, the Melbourne Renegades farewelled the WBBL with a dismal collapse on Sunday afternoon.

Bowled out by the Brisbane Heat for 76, the Renegades bookended their forgettable competition with a 43-run defeat.

The Melbourne-based club could only muster four wins in the five-week tournament, failing to qualify for the finals series for the first time in three years.

However, a depleted roster could be to blame for the slump. Two of the club’s biggest stars were struck with injury early in the WBBL, with pace bowler Maitlan Brown and leg-spinner Georgia Wareham unavailable for most of the T20 competition.

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The pair both featured in Australia’s squad for the recent short-format series against New Zealand, so their absence undeniably left the Renegades with a weaker bowling attack.

Maitlan Brown and Georgia Wareham.Source:Getty Images

But there is a silver lining for the Renegades, with a handful of young guns granted the chance to harness their skills as strike bowlers, most noticeably 22-year-old Carly Leeson.

Having previously been somewhat of a fringe player in the club’s starting XI, Leeson stepped up to become a stalwart for the Renegades this season, claiming 11 wickets at a commendable average of 23.45.

In comparison, the all-rounder only managed three wickets in 11 WBBL matches last summer.

“It’s obviously been hard for us, not having that depth of players in the squad,” Leeson told news.com.au. “(Maitland and Wareham) were going to play a big role for us this season, so losing them is pretty hard.

“But for myself, it allows me to have a bit more opportunity, which I’ve really enjoyed taking on.

“We were lacking a bit of depth and a little bit of experience, especially probably from a batting point of view.

“But I think it’s also a perfect opportunity for us to learn, and I think we’ll come back bigger and much better next year.”

Carly Leeson of the Melbourne Renegades.Source:News Regional Media

Leeson’s tournament highlight came during a Player of the Match performance against the Adelaide Strikers at Sydney Showground.

The right-armer claimed 3/14 in a classy four-over spell, restricting Adelaide’s batting attack with mercilessly-consistent seam bowling.

“We had a pretty small chance of making finals, so we’re pretty much attacking these last few games with the mindset of looking to knock other teams out,” Leeson said.

“We have nothing to lose with no finals on the line, so we can play with a little bit more freedom, and I think that really helped me to back my skills a bit more.”

The Renegades managed to end the season for Ellyse Perry’s Sydney Sixers on Saturday evening, a surprise six-wicket victory at North Sydney Oval ensuring the powerhouse club could not advance into the finals series.

“It’s always good coming into the game as an underdog,” Leeson said. “The Melbourne Renegades have a pretty strong history against the Sixers, in terms of having some really close games.”

Leeson celebrated her 22nd birthday during the WBBL, locked away from friends and family in a biosecurity bubble at Sydney Olympic Park.

Taking place the day before a must-win match against the Hobart Hurricanes, drinks were understandably not permitted.

“It was a pretty quiet one to be honest,” Leeson said. “I think it was a rest day between a couple of big games, so we didn’t really get up to too much.

“Obviously we can’t go out anywhere being in the bubble, but we had a few little cupcakes and dinner.”

Carly Leeson of the Renegades.Source:Getty Images

Although WBBL06 didn’t got as planned for the Renegades, the 10-month-old daughter of New Zealand stars Lea Tahuhu and Amy Satterthwaite gave the squad plenty to smile about while in the bubble.

Born in January, Grace travelled across the Tasman with her parents, and has proven the most popular occupant in Sydney Olympic Park this month.

“With us not going as well as we’d like, it’s actually been a pretty good distraction and allows a lit bit of perspective in your eyes,” Leeson said.

“I remember one game we had a loss, and just went into the changeroom and had little Gracie in there, and it just opens your eyes a little bit, gives you a little bit of perspective that it is only a game at the end of the day.”

Looking beyond the WBBL, Leeson will look to continue her stellar form in the WNCL where she represents the ACT Meteors.

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