WBBL previews: the squads, signings and players to watch

WBBL previews: the squads, signings and players to watch

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Adelaide Strikers

Captain: TBC
Coach: Luke Williams

Last season 6th

Squad Jemma Barsby, Darcie Brown, Nell Bryson-Smith, Sarah Coyte, Meagan Dixon, Katie Mack, Tahlia McGrath, Tegan McPharlin, Dane van Niekerk (SA), Bridget Patterson, Maddie Penna, Annie O’Neil, Megan Schutt, Amanda-Jade Wellington, Laura Wolvaardt (SA)

In Jemma Barsby (Scorchers), Nell Bryson-Smith, Meagan Dixon, Dane van Niekerk
Out Suzie Bates, Ellen Falconer (Renegades), Alex Price, Stafanie Taylor

Pre-season
It’s a largely stable squad from a local point of view for Strikers. Darcie Brown‘s elevation to a Cricket Australia contract means she is now one of the club’s five marquee names. The withdrawal of Suzie Bates due to concerns about getting a quarantine space on return to New Zealand has seen the signing of Dane van Niekerk after she left Sixers; with both bat and ball that should be a valuable addition. Brown, Megan Schutt, Tahlia McGrath and legspinner Amanda-Jade Wellington make a very well balanced attack with plenty of wicket-takers. If they can put runs on the board they should be a major challenger.

Player to watch
Remember that parried catch that went viral? It was one of the moments of the tournament last year. Tahlia McGrath was outstanding during the multi-format series against India with bat and ball. However, last season’s WBBL from a run-scoring perspective was underwhelming with 227 runs at 16.21 and a strike-rate of 82.24 opening the innings. Where she is used this season remains to be seen, but if it’s at the top again more impact will be needed in the Powerplay.

Brisbane Heat

Captain: Jess Jonassen
Coach: Ashley Noffke

Last season (2nd) Semi-final

Squad Anneke Bosch (SA), Nadine de Klerk (SA), Poonam Yadav (Ind), Zoe Cooke, Nicola Hancock, Grace Harris, Ellie Johnston, Jess Jonassen, Laura Kimmince, Mikayla Hinkley, Charli Knott, Georgia Prestwidge, Georgia Redmayne, Courtney Sippel, Georgia Voll

In Anneke Bosch, Zoe Cooke, Ellie Johnston, Poonam Yadav
Out Maddy Green, Amelia Kerr, Delissa Kimmince (retired), Lilly Mills (Scorchers)

Pre-season
The late recruitment of legspinner Poonam Yadav could be a vital part of Heat’s jigsaw after they fell at the semi-final stage last season in their bid for a hat-trick of title. They were a long way out at the midway point of the campaign but surged into the knockout stages. The top order will again look to Georgia Redmayne but it is lower down where they have a real X-factor in the finishing skills of Laura Kimmince who had an eye-watering strike-rate of 205.81 last season. They will also hope for further development from youngster Georgia Voll. With the ball, South Africa allrounders Anneke Bosch and Nadine de Klerk could be tasked will filling the role of the retired Delissa Kimmince.

Player to watch
As mentioned above, Laura Kimmince brings a dimension to Heat’s batting that few other teams can match in their middle order. Despite facing just 86 balls last season she finished third on the sixes chart with 12 and her strike-rate was way out on top as the only batter over 200. With 37 off 17 balls in the semi-final she was on the verge of taking Heat into the final before she was bowled attempting a switch it as part of a lower-order collapse.

Hobart Hurricanes

Captain: Rachel Priest
Coach: Salliann Beams

Last season 8th

Squad: Rachel Priest (capt, NZ), Nicola Carey, Tayla Vlaeminck, Mignon du Preez (SA), Richa Ghosh (Ind), Angelina Genford, Maisy Gibson, Ruth Johnston, Sasha Moloney, Chloe Rafferty, Amy Smith, Molly Strano, Naomi Stalenberg, Belinda Vakarewa, Rachel Trenaman

In Molly Strano (Renegades), Mignon du Preez (Stars), Rachel Trenaman (Thunder), Angelina Genford, Richa Ghosh, Ruth Johnston
Out Corinne Hall (Thunder), Emma Flint (maternity leave), Chloe Tryon, Brooke Hepburn (retired), Hayley Matthews, Erica Kershaw

Pre-season
Hurricanes have made some big moves in the off-season after finishing last for the third time in four seasons. They have not made the WBBL finals since 2016-17 and are hoping to change their fortunes on the back of some big-name recruits. They have lured the experienced Mignon du Preez from Stars and the exciting addition of Richa Ghosh means the batting line-up will have a great balance of youth and experience, as well as power and touch. They had also added Rachel Trenaman to the top order, but she will miss the entire season after rupturing her ACL. The bowling has also received a huge boost with all-time leading WBBL wicket-taker Molly Strano lured south from her beloved Melbourne Renegades. She brings so much experience and versatility to the side with her ability to bowl in the powerplay and in the middle overs. Hurricanes finally have a well-rounded attack if Tayla Vlaeminck and Maisy Gibson can stay fit, with Vlaeminck becoming a strike weapon around the reliable Strano, Belinda Vakarewa, and Nicola Carey.

Player to watch
Tayla Vlaeminck has played 19 WBBL matches in her career with WBBL05 proving her only full season due to a raft of injuries. She did not play at all last season and has been nursed through the recent Australia-India series, only playing in the T20Is due to an Achilles flare-up during her preparation. She is arguably the fastest bowler in the world and strikes fear into international batters with her pace, bounce, and awkward action. Her value at domestic level is even greater and she could have a major impact in this tournament for the Hurricanes if she can stay fit. But they will need to use her judiciously as playing all 14 games plus finals might be too much to ask given the travel schedule in the second half of the tournament.

Melbourne Renegades

Captain: Sophie Molineux
Coach: Simon Helmot

Last season 7th

Squad: Sophie Molineux (capt), Georgia Wareham, Eve Jones (Eng), Harmanpreet Kaur (Ind), Jemimah Rodrigues (Ind), Makinley Blows, Josie Dooley, Jess Duffin, Ellie Falconer, Holly Ferling, Poppy Gardner, Ella Hayward, Carly Leeson, Rhiann O’Donnell, Courtney Webb

In Harmanpreet Kaur, Jemimah Rodrigues, Eve Jones, Holly Ferling (Stars), Ellen Falconer (Strikers), Poppy Gardner, Rhiann O’Donnell
Out Molly Strano (Hurricanes), Maitlan Brown (Sixers), Lizelle Lee, Amy Satterthwaite, Lea Tahuhu, Erin Fazackerley, Courtney Neale

Pre-season
Renegades have had a huge turnover of players and staff since last season with only a handful of familiar faces remaining following a poor campaign. Lachie Stevens departed as coach and Simon Helmot takes over, coming off winning the Caribbean Premier League title with St Kitts and Nevis Patriots. Sophie Molineux takes over as captain from Amy Satterthwaite while Lea Tahuhu also hasn’t returned. They have bolstered their batting with the signings of India duo Harmanpreet Kaur and Jemimah Rodrigues and Eve Jones from England while Jess Duffin’s return from maternity leave adds some much-needed experience. The bowling will be tested though without Tahuhu, Maitlan Brown and Strano. They still have a lot of spin depth, but they lack a little bit of strike power in the pace department. Holly Ferling adds some new-ball experience coming across from the Stars and there is some excitement around 16-year-old left-armer Poppy Gardner.

Player to watch
There is plenty of quality in the top order but Georgia Wareham looms as an X-factor with both bat and ball. Her bowling is world-class as she has proved in T20 World Cups, but Renegades are very keen to continue to progress her batting in T20 cricket. She had the sixth-highest strike-rate last season (146.31) and found the boundary every five deliveries, ranking her only behind Laura Kimmince and Alyssa Healy, among those with more than 100 runs, and well above Meg Lanning and Sophie Devine. Wareham showcased her batting ability under pressure in the second T20I against India and the Renegades are keen to further develop her hitting ability.

Melbourne Stars

Captain: Meg Lanning
Coach: Jarrad Loughman

Last season (1st) Runners-up

Squad: Meg Lanning (capt), Annabel Sutherland, Maia Bouchier (Eng), Kim Garth (Ire), Linsey Smith (Eng), Lucy Cripps, Maddy Darke, Nicole Faltum, Tess Flintoff, Georgia Gall, Anna Lanning, Rhys McKenna, Erin Osborne, Elyse Villani

In Kim Garth, Rhys McKenna, Anna Lanning, Maddy Darke (Sixers), Maia Bouchier, Linsey Smith
Out Alana King (Scorchers), Mignon du Preez (Hurricanes), Holly Ferling (Renegades), Katherine Brunt, Natalie Sciver, Bhavi Devchand

Pre-season
It will be a big ask for Stars to replicate last season’s run to the final given the amount of playing quality they have lost. Jarrad Loughman takes over as coach, but he won’t be changing much of the formula having worked alongside the departing Trent Woodhill last season. However, the turnover of international players is where they will be tested the most. England stars Nat Sciver and Katherine Brunt are unavailable while du Preez has moved to the Hurricanes. They have also lost some quality bowlers in Alana King and Holly Ferling. Kim Garth is an excellent addition having moved from Ireland to Melbourne permanently, while the recruitment of England left-arm orthodox Linsey Smith adds some international experience. Maia Bouchier comes off an England season where she made her international debut and will benefit from batting with the likes of Meg Lanning and Elyse Villani.

Player to watch
Lanning and Villani are usually the keys to Stars’ success but the one player who could really take the WBBL by storm this season is Annabel Sutherland. She made her Test debut against India recently and her bowling appears to have taken another step forward. She has had limited opportunities with the bat in her brief international career so far but has shown promise on most occasions. She made one half-century in 11 innings in last year’s WBBL but in the absence of du Preez and Sciver she will shoulder far more responsibility in the middle order this season and her power game could set her apart.

Perth Scorchers

Captain: Sophie Devine
Coach: Shelley Nitschke

Last season (4th) Semi-final

Squad: Sophie Devine (NZ)(capt), Beth Mooney, Chamari Athapaththu (SL), Marizanne Kapp (SA), Samantha Betts, Mathilda Carmichael, Piepa Cleary, Ashley Day, Amy Edgar, Heather Graham, Lisa Griffith, Alana King, Lilly Mills, Taneale Peschel, Chloe Piparo

In Marizanne Kapp (Sixers), Chamari Athapaththu, Alana King (Stars), Lisa Griffith (Sixers), Lilly Mills (Heat), Ashley Day, Amy Edgar
Out Jemma Barsby (Strikers), Amy Jones, Sarah Glenn, Emma King (retired), Nicole Bolton (Sixers), Megan Banting, Georgia Wyllie

Pre-season
Scorchers have once again had a high turnover of players but have added some quality to their line-up. The addition of Marizanne Kapp gives their attack some real potency while Alana King’s legspin adds some much-needed variety after they lost three good spinners in Sarah Glenn, Nicole Bolton and Emma King. Bolton is also a loss in the middle order, but Chamari Athapaththu will provide a different dynamic in terms of her power. She hasn’t previously produced her best in the WBBL with Renegades but has a superb record in Australia for Sri Lanka and produced two high-quality innings at the WACA in the T20 World Cup last year, with Scorchers scheduled to play three games there. Scorchers have the best opening combination in the WBBL with Sophie Devine and Beth Mooney set to star again but the team can be a bit top-heavy at times and will need both to produce all year and in the finals to claim the title.

Player to watch
It seems obvious to say but Sophie Devine and Beth Mooney are difficult to ignore. Devine has the chance to win three consecutive Player of the Tournament awards while Mooney enters the competition on the back of impressive returns in the white-ball matches against India. They are two extraordinary cricketers who can carry their team on their shoulders. Devine has unfinished business having never won a title in Australia while Mooney is looking to claim a third having won twice previously with Heat.

Sydney Sixers

Captain: Ellyse Perry
Coach: Ben Sawyer

Last season 5th

Squad: Ellyse Perry (capt), Jade Allen, Nicole Bolton, Maitlan Brown, Erin Burns, Stella Campbell, Lauren Cheatle, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Emma Hughes, Matilda Lugg, Angela Reakes Claire Moore, Shafali Verma (IND), Radha Yadav (IND)

In Jade Allen, Nicole Bolton (Scorchers), Maitlan Brown (Renegades), Matlida Lugg, Shafali Verma, Radha Yadav, Claire Moore
Out Marizanne Kapp, Dane van Niekerk, Jodie Hicks, Sarah Aley (retired), Maddy Darke, Lisa Griffith, Hayley Silver-Holmes (injured)

Pre-season
After two disappointing seasons where they have finished fifth to miss the finals there has been a revamp of Sixers’ squad. Earlier this year their new list manager Lisa Sthalekar said they had “fallen behind” in the T20 game, while Ellyse Perry told ESPNcricinfo there would be changes to how they play. The most significant of those may involve Perry who could move down the order with new signing Shafali Verma joining Healy in what could be an electric opening pair. The arrival of Maitlan Brown will need to compensate for the loss of Kapp’s overs while Bolton’s role with her offspin in the Powerplay could be significant. Pace bowler Hayley-Silver Homes is out of the whole tournament due to a hip injury and Erin Burns will miss at least the Tasmania leg for personal reasons.

Player to watch
Through a combination of various events – including the rain at the beginning of the tournament then another concussion – Ashleigh Gardner only faced 69 balls in last season’s competition and 35 of those of those came in one innings when she made 53. Her strike-rate of 134.78 was second behind Healy and the freedom she is given to play with means low scores are an occupational hazard. But she will hope to have an impact over a longer period this season. A lot of work went into her offspin during the winter and that will again be a key part of the attack, particularly against opposition left handers.

Sydney Thunder

Captain: Rachael Haynes
Coach: Trevor Griffin

Last season (3rd) Champions

Squad: Rachael Haynes (capt), Samantha Bates, Hannah Darlington, Jess Davidson, Corinne Hall, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Anika Learoyd, Phoebe Litchfield, Smriti Mandhana (IND), Kate Peterson, Olivia Porter, Deepti Sharma (IND), Lauren Smith, Tahlia Wilson, Issy Wong (ENG)

In Jess Davidson, Corinne Hall (Hurricanes), Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma, Issy Wong
Out Rachael Trenaman (Hurricanes), Tammy Beaumont, Heather Knight, Shabnim Ismail, Saskia Horley

Pre-season
The defending champions have kept the core of their local players together although it remains to be confirmed how much of the season captain Rachael Haynes is available for while she takes maternity leave. As with Sixers there has been a complete turnover in the overseas players with England players unavailable and the injury to South Africa’s Shabnim Ismail. Smriti Mandhana will have a big load to carry with the bat – especially during Haynes’ absence – but comes into the tournament in terrific form. Keep an eye out for the pace of Issy Wong while it will be interesting to see if Phoebe Litchfield is able to get an opportunity higher up the order.

Player to watch
Sammy-Jo Johnson had a big impact with the ball last season after her move from Heat with 22 wickets at 14.81. She formed a telling new-ball combination with Ismail – which peaked with their almost perfect display in the final – but without the South Africa quick this season, Johnson will have to take more responsibility. During the off-season she took part in the Hundred where she finished as the joint second-leading wicket-taker. Depending on how she is used with the bat, an increase on last year’s 108 runs could also be critical.