Big Bash recruiters have been busy in the off-season and it’s meant the likes of Sophie Devine has moved from Strikers to Scorchers; Beth Mooney from Heat to Scorchers; Meg Lanning from Scorchers to Stars, Sammy-Jo Johnson from Heat to Sixers, Heather Knight from Hurricanes to Thunder … the list continues.
In fact, the player movement ahead of the sixth season of the Women’s Big Bash League has been unprecedented and renowned cricket commenter and Cricket Australia board member Mel Jones said it meant WBBL06 promised to deliver more big hits and nailbiting finishes than ever.
“People watch sport for the uncertainty and the entertainment and the competition and the WBBL last year was brilliant with a significant number of matches being decided in the final over,” Jones said.
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Jess Jonassen is the new skipper of the Brisbane Heat.Source:Supplied
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“That’s why the WBBL is so attractive to watch because you just don’t know what’s going to happen. I think now, with the player movement, that will continue.”
A strong contingent of international players, including New Zealander Rachel Priest and South African Laura Wolvaardt, have completed mandatory hotel quarantine ahead of the competition and Jones said part of the beauty of T20 franchise cricket was how attractive it was for international players, which was a bonus for players and spectators alike.
“(Sydney Sixers) Marizanne Kapp (from South Africa) said it recently that she’s playing in the WBBL, but at times it feels like she’s playing international cricket because of the quality of the games and the people on the park,” she said.
“With a big picture hat on as well, there are many countries in the cricket world that are really struggling through COVID, particularly South Africa, so to see their players come out with the broader cricket community and still push their skills and play the game is great.”
Despite COVID, WBBL06 will go ahead thanks to a village-style hub in Sydney and all games played on Sydney ovals over a compact five-week period, including four games being played in a day.
Laura Wolvaardt was one of the stand-outs at this year’s T20 World Cup.Source:News Corp Australia
Last season’s runners-up have lost the biggest name on their list, big-hitting all-rounder Sophie Devine. It will be tough to replace last year’s Player of the Tournament, but one of the positives for the team is they have been able to keep the core of their list together: 13 of their 15 contracted players were in Strikers colours last year.
Tabatha Saville has joined Devine on the “outs” list for Adelaide, but exciting young bowler Maddy Penna and South African young gun Laura Wolvaardt joins them from the Heat.
The Strikers will be hoping their West Indian international, Stafanie Taylor, fires with both bat and ball and that captain Suzie Bates recovers from a shoulder strain.
Player to watch: Laura Wolvaardt. In July the 21-year-old specialist batter was named South Africa’s Women’s Cricketer of the Year after a stellar T20 World Cup campaign, which saw her country progress to the semi-finals. Wolvaardt has been on the cricket radar for years, having played for a South African invitational under-19s side as a 13-year-old.
The impressive Amelia Kerr returns to the Heat.Source:AAP
The Heat will be hoping 2020 will deliver their third-consecutive WBBL title, but this is a whole new team. Captain Kirby Short has retired, opening batter Beth Mooney has headed west and Sammy-Jo Johnson has headed to Sydney Thunder.
But a big in for them in 57-match wicketkeeper/batter Georgia Redmayne who brings a wealth of experience to her fifth WBBL side. She’s among four new faces to the Heat team, along side Nicola Hancock (Melbourne Stars), Nadine de Klerk and Georgia Voll.
New Zealand’s spin whiz, Amelia Kerr, is back in Heat colours.
Player to watch: Jess Jonassen. The Aussie all-rounder takes the captaincy reins following an excellent T20 World Cup campaign. She could well also be tasked with taking the opening batter position from Mooney. She has hit 1378 runs over six seasons, making her the second-highest all-time run-scorer for the Heat and her 75 wickets make her Brisbane’s the all-time leading wicket-taker.
Hurricane imports Rachel Priest and Belinda Vakarewa.Source:News Corp Australia
Having watched the finals from the sidelines for the past three seasons, the Hurricanes will be desperate to return to the pointy end of the Big Bash. Enter New Zealand’s power-hitting wicketkeeper Rachel Priest, who’s joining from Sydney Thunder. Last season she averaged 22 with the bat and will be wanting a big improvement on that, but her five caught-behinds and eight stumpings were impressive. She joins along with fellow Kiwi, Hayley Jensen. Meanwhile, Erin Fazackerley is off to the Renegades and Heather Knight has joined the Thunder. But South African Chloe Tryon, who averaged 35 with the bat in 2019 is back.
Player to watch: Belinda Vakarewa. With Aussie quick Tayla Vlaeminck still sidelined through injury, fellow fast bowler Vakarewa’s form will be vital to the team’s success. She was last season’s leading wicket-taker for the ‘Canes, with 20 to her name, and was also the team’s most economic.
Molly Strano will be key to the Renegades’ progress.Source:Getty Images
Out go English pair Tammy Beaumont (off to Sydney) and Danni Wyatt (who’s opted to play in the Women’s IPL exhibition games) along with Erica Kershaw and Claire Koski.
In come South Africa’s big-hitter Lizelle Lee (Stars), Erin Fazackerley (Hurricanes) and Ella Hayward, while Kiwi Amy Satterthwaite returns from maternity leave and will captain the side.
One of the world’s fastest bowlers, Lea Tahuhu, will continue to thrive in the WBBL, while Aussie all-rounder Sophie Molineux was impressive in the green and gold during this month’s limited overs series against NZ.
Player to watch: Molly Strano. Last season, the 28-year-old spinner was the competition’s leading wicket-taker, with 24 (three wickets clear of Heat’s Jess Jonassen, who also played an extra game). Her performance earned her a national call-up for the T20 World Cup, and she bowled the first over of the series for the green and gold. She was also last season’s female Domestic Player of the Year.
Meg Lanning has bolstered the Stars line-up..Source:Supplied
Last year’s wooden spooners have used off-season recruiting to turn themselves into one of the most highly-favoured teams coming into the new season. They said farewell to batter Lizelle Lee and bowler Maddy Penna, but in comes one of the biggest names in world cricket, Aussie captain Meg Lanning (who will also lead the Stars), along with English pair Nat Sciver (allrounder) and Katherine Brunt (regarded as the best fast bowler to ever represent England). The experience of those three will meld wonderfully with the youth that abounds in this team, including teenager Annabel Sutherland. They’ve also made a coaching change, welcoming the highly-rated Trent Woodhill as head coach. All-in-all, it looks an impressive mix.
Player to watch: Meg Lanning. The 28-year-old Aussie captain led her team to a convincing T20 World Cup title in March and will be taking all her tactical experience and level-headedness into WBBL06. One of the most explosive hitters in the game, earlier this month she scored her 14th ODI century against New Zealand. In Perth colours last year she hit 531 runs. She’ll be looking for even more in green.
Sophie Devine has been one of the superstars of the WBBL.Source:AAP
Possibly the most talked-about team in the lead up to WBBL, following cracking recruitment by incoming coach Shelley Nitschke. She tempted not only the 2019 Player of the Tournament, Sophie Devine, away from Adelaide, but also the world’s No. 1 ranked T20 batter, Beth Mooney, from reigning champions Brisbane. The best two batters in the competition on paper are now the most formidable opening pair in the competition.
Young English leggie Sarah Glenn, who was last month named Player of the Series between England and West Indies, has also been recruited. However, Perth’s lost Aussie captain Meg Lanning. She’s a big out.
Player to watch: Sophie Devine. Even with Mooney and Glenn, it’s still Devine you’d go to see. Last season the Kiwi set a new world record when she smashed five consecutive sixes in one over. But she brings a charitable side, too: over the past two seasons she’s organised fundraisers, first it was headbands, then it was zinc cream. Will she carry that tradition into her new team?
Ellyse Perry may have a vital role to play with the bat.Source:Getty Images
The Sixers missed the finals last year for the first time in WBBL history, but don’t discount this side in 2020. Their list of players who perform on the international stage reads like a who’s-who of cricket: Alyssa Healy, Ellyse Perry, Ashleigh Gardner, Marizanne Kapp (South Africa), Dane Van Niekerk (SA). Coached by Ben Sawyer, if their stars are fit, they will be very hard to beat.
Player to watch: Ellyse Perry. Having heartbreakingly torn her hamstring during Australia’s T20 World Cup campaign and missing the final win over India in March, it’s been a long time out of the game for the world’s No. 1 ranked women’s cricketer. Question is: will she bat, bowl or do both?
Rachael Haynes has spent the off-season setting fitnes personal bests.Source:Supplied
The Thunder have farewelled the likes of Alex Blackwell (retired), Lisa Griffith (Sixers) and Rachel Priest (Hurricanes), but have some big names coming in, including England captain Heather Knight and her English teammate Tammy Beaumont (Renegades). Another big signing is former Brisbane Heat allrounder Sammy-Jo Johnson who in the WBBL05 final against the Strikers hit Sophie Devine for 24 runs from only five deliveries. Spinner Lauren Smith is also joining them from the Sixers. Her best figures in WBBL05 were 2-13. Coaches would also be happy to have retained South African fast bowler Shabnim Ismail.
Player to watch: Rachael Haynes. Since her stellar efforts in the T20 World Cup that saw her take home one player of the match accolade, the Australia vice-captain has spent the long off-season setting personal bests in fitness areas including the 2km time trial. Will be good to watch what added fitness brings to her game.
Originally published asWBBL06 promises to be something really special
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