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How the Stars changed their WBBL fortunes

Before Meg Lanning would return home to the Melbourne Stars from Perth in July, she wanted to see a vision far beyond her own stardom.

How a team that finished bottom of the ladder with two wins in 14 games last year planned to turn things around.

How a glamour club that had never made finals in five years of the WBBL can now face the Sydney Thunder in Saturday night’s decider.

“We had some really good young players already signed on,” Lanning said on Friday.

“But we also had the chance to have a clean slate … so I thought we could really build something.

“Having (coach) Trent (Woodhill) onboard has been massive, he has played a really big part in the internationals.”

Lanning’s return was huge for the Stars, but it was not the be all and end all

Because as Victoria’s Big Bash general manager Nick Cummins puts it, Lanning wanted “the Melbourne Stars, not the Meg Stars”.

In her first stint at the club, Lanning more than tripled the runs of the Stars’ next best bat in the opening season.

This summer Lanning has again led the way, but Nat Sciver has also averaged above 40 and taken 19 wickets after the club decided they needed more from their internationals.

Both Sciver and Katherine Brunt arrived from Perth, while South African veteran Mignon Du Preez has had her best year at the Stars going hard at the ball early in her innings.

The Stars have also sought variety with the ball in left-arm spinner Sophie Day to go with in-form leggie Alana King, while 17-year-old Tess Flintoff has been a revelation at the death.

“Meg wanted to see intent around building a strong list, and not putting all the pressure on her shoulders to carry the team,” Cummins said.

“It wasn’t just a given Meg would come back and sign regardless of the club’s situation.

“She was really keen to know who would coach

“We spent some time talking early on about the vision and how I run Big Bash clubs.”

The Thunder too are a team borne out of development.

They’ll have three teenagers take the field at North Sydney Oval, much like the team that won the inaugural competition in 2015-16.

“We lost a few of our middle-tier players a couple of years ago and we had to invest in youth,” captain Rachael Haynes said.

“I think the experience of last year and getting an opportunity at this level is really paying dividends now.

But while the Thunder are after their first title, Saturday presents an opportunity for the Stars’ first.

“We’ve done a great job to get to where we are from the bottom of the table to get to the top of the ladder after the round games,” Lanning said.

“But we came here to win the tournament.”

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