Perth Scorchers WBBL retention decision over Kapp and Devine likely to shape the draft

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Despite only having pick No. 3, Perth Scorchers loom as the club that will shape Sunday’s inaugural WBBL overseas draft with a massive decision to be made over whether to take Sophie Devine or Marizanne Kapp with their only retention pick.

The WBBL and BBL platinum players were revealed at an event in Melbourne on Wednesday ahead of Sunday’s drafts with Devine and Kapp among the 25 platinum WBBL names that will available to be selected in the first and second rounds of the draft at the AU$110,000 price band.

It is the first year of the WBBL overseas draft after it was implemented for the men’s BBL last year. The draft rules are exactly the same as the men, with each club getting one retention pick which they can use on a player who has qualified for them under league rules by being contracted to that club last season, or having played for them previously for two seasons without playing at another club.

In the BBL draft last year Rashid Khan became the first player retained after Melbourne Stars selected him with pick No.1. Adelaide Strikers were able to use their retention option and did not get another pick in the first round, and Stars got to pick again immediately.

A similar situation looms in the WBBL draft with Sydney Thunder looking likely to select Kapp with pick No.1 on Sunday which would force Scorchers to make a decision on whether to use their retention pick on Kapp or hold it for Devine who is also eligible to return to the club, if she is selected at pick No. 2 by Melbourne Renegades.

Captain of defending champions Strikers, Tahlia McGrath, and Sydney Sixers allrounder Ashleigh Gardner, who have both been involved in the draft planning for their respective clubs, believed Scorchers’ decision would dictate the whole draft.

The draft order for the WBBL

The draft order for the WBBLCricket Australia

“I think the one that everyone’s looking at is the Scorchers and if they go Kapp or Devine, that’s going to shape the rest of the draft,” McGrath told ESPNcricinfo. “Especially for the Thunder, who they end up with because I’d imagine whoever doesn’t get retained would probably go pick one or two. So it’s going to be really interesting to sit and watch that.

“I’d absolutely love both Kapp and Devine on our lists. You would jump at them. But with [Strikers having] pick eight they’re well and truly going to be gone. We’ll just wait and see what happens before us. And that determines how we play our cards.”

Kapp has previously played at Sixers prior to moving to Perth and Gardner agreed that she would likely be the No.1 choice.

“Kapp in my eyes would be the No.1 pick and I think probably everyone around the league would say that as well,” Gardner told ESPNcricinfo. “Thunder being No. 1, I’m assuming will go for her, but obviously, I don’t know. So it’d be very, very interesting, I guess as to who they retain.”

On the surface, retaining Kapp looks like the logical choice for Scorchers given the recent form of both players but their decision is complicated by the fact that Devine’s value to them goes well beyond her recent T20 performances.

Devine is a two-time player of the tournament, once with Strikers and once with Scorchers, and led Scorchers to their only title two seasons ago where Kapp was player of the final in the win over Strikers at Perth Stadium.

Devine has strong ties to Perth and Western Australia having also represented the state in the WNCL, Australia’s domestic 50-over competition, and is a valued leader within their programs having captained Scorchers for the last three seasons.

Harmanpreet and Dottin also big retention targets

Whichever way they go will have a huge bearing on what happens thereafter in the draft with Renegades holding pick No. 2 and the option of retaining India captain Harmanpreet Kaur.

It seems highly unlikely that any of those three players will be available for last year’s finalists Sixers and Strikers at pick No. 7 and No. 8 but both those clubs face their own challenges with which platinum player to select. Strikers have the option of retaining one of three platinums in Laura Wolvaardt, Deandra Dottin and Stafanie Taylor who returns to the WBBL after missing the last two years.

“We’re lucky that all three players have been awesome for us,” McGrath said. “If you look at who we had last year, Laura has probably been our most consistent player over the last three years. And Dottin set the finals alight in both games, so we’re pretty spoilt for choice. No matter who we pick they will fit into our squad.”

The defending champions could also have a big call to make

The defending champions could also have a big call to makeCricket Australia via Getty Images

“She’s obviously a huge loss and someone that we would have retained,” Gardner said. “She’s a huge gap to try and fill. It depends on whether you’re looking at it from a bowling perspective and saying do we need the best bowler that we can get or an allrounder?

“I’ve been in on the meetings, and they’ve been pretty stressful, and quite overwhelming. Seeing all these names and seeing the likely list of where people will go or where we think they’ll go from a platinum point of view. It’s been really interesting.”

WBBL allows direct nomination to clubs

As it is the inaugural year of the WBBL draft, Cricket Australia believed that because in women’s T20 leagues they are relatively new compared to the men’s leagues, and that the salary bands are not as high, they did not want to force players into a draft if they were uncomfortable about the uncertainty of where they would end up. CA decided to give overseas WBBL players the option of applying for this direct route.

Bates took up that option and may be available to sign for Sixers after the draft. Although with only six players opting for this route, the league may well review the rule next season.

Renegades also announced on Wednesday that former Australia batter Jess Duffin is returning to the WBBL after missing the last season to focus on finishing her Australian Rules Football in the AFLW competition. Duffin has just had her second child but has returned to training only three months after giving birth.

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo

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