WBBL previews: Can Perth Scorchers go back-to-back and will Sydney Sixers rebound?

How the squads line-up ahead of this season with will see DRS and the Power Surge for the first time in WBBL

Adelaide Strikers

Tahlia McGrath has had a stunning run for AustraliaGetty Images

Captain Tahlia McGrath
Coach Luke Williams

Squad Jemma Barsby, Darcie Brown, Megan Dixon Deandra Dottin, Katie Mack, Tahlia McGrath, Tegan McParlin, Anesu Mushangwe, Annie O’Neil, Bridget Patterson, Maddie Penna, Megan Schutt, Amanda-Jade Wellington, Laura Wolvaardt, Ella Wilson | In: Deandra Dottin, Anesu Mushangwe, Ella Wilson | Out Sarah Coyte (Renegades), Dane van Niekerk

Last season recap Runners up
Having finished fourth, they reached the final with big victories in the Eliminator, when Amanda-Jade Wellington took an astonishing 5 for 8 against Brisbane Heat, and the Challenger on home soil before falling at the final hurdle against Perth Scorchers. Katie Mack had a prolific campaign, finishing as the second-highest scorer with 513 at 64.12.

Key player
Tahlia McGrath has become one of the leading players in the world over the last 12 months and her T20I average stands at 93.85 with a strike-rate of 153.68. Continues to grow as a leader, too, and could be a future Australia captain.

One to watch
Legspinner Anesu Mushangwe, who has taken 33 wickets at just 7.42 in 21 T20Is, will be the first Zimbabwe-born player to appear in the WBBL if she makes her debut. She is able to play as a local due to being an Australian resident. “She is a legspinner who is very well-suited to T20 cricket,” Strikers assistant coach Jude Coleman said. “A different kind of legspinner to Amanda-Jade Wellington, I think she will challenge the best batters in the competition.”

Verdict
They look well-placed to challenge again with experience across all departments although the loss of Coyte leaves a significant hole in the death bowling. Dottin will need to improve on her overall WBBL record (424 runs, average 19.27, strike-rate 101.43) but in Mack, Wolvaardt and McGrath they have a strong top order.

Brisbane Heat

Laura Harris is capable of fearsome strikingGetty Images

Captain Jess Jonassen
Coach Ashley Noffke

Squad Jess Jonassen, Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr (replacement), Pooja Vastrakar, Danni Wyatt, Zoe Cooke (unavailable), Lucy Hamilton (replacement) Nicola Hancock, Grace Harris, Laura Harris, Mikayla Hinkley, Ellie Johnston, Charli Knott, Grace Parsons, Georgia Redmayne, Courtney Sippell, Georgia Voll In: Amelia Kerr, Jess Kerr, Pooja Vastrakar, Danni Wyatt, Grace Parsons | Out: Georgia Prestwidge, Anneka Bosch, Nadine de Klerk, Poonam Yadav

Last season recap Eliminator
Finished third in the regular season then stumbled to the exit in a heavy defeat against Renegades where they were dismantled by Wellington’s magical spell. Two batters – Georgia Redmayne and Grace Harris – crossed 400 runs, but no one else scored a half-century. With the ball, captain Jonassen was outstanding with 21 wickets but Nadine de Klerk and Anneke Bosch did not have a major impact as overseas players.

Key player
A tale of two sisters: Grace Harris and Laura Harris. Grace played a crucial innings in the first Commonwealth Games match against India and is dynamic with bat and ball. Meanwhile, Laura has already produced one of the stunning feats of the season with the fastest WNCL century from just 50 balls against ACT. If those two combine in an innings, anything could be possible.

One to watch
She has been in this category for a while now, but it feels like we are about to see the full emergence of Georgia Voll into one of Australian cricket’s next generation. Showed promise in last season’s WBBL with 282 runs without quite converting but started the WNCL season with a superb 145 against New South Wales.

Verdict
With Amelia Kerr back in the attack, Danni Wyatt to supplement the top order and Pooja Vastrakar adding depth they look a more imposing force this year (although Wyatt and Vastrakar will arrive late). If everything clicks they should have a very good chance of making the knockouts.

Hobart Hurricanes

Elyse Villani adds considerable power and experience to Hurricanes’ top orderGetty Images

Captain Elyse Villani
Coach Dan Marsh

Squad Elyse Villani, Nicola Carey, Mignon du Preez, Julia Cavanough, Maisy Gibson, Heather Graham, Hayley Jensen, Ruth Johnston, Emma Manix-Geeves, Hayley Silver-Holmes, Lizelle Lee, Amy Smith, Naomi Stalenberg, Molly Strano, Rachel Trenaman In: Elyse Villani, Heather Graham, Hayley Silver-Holmes, Emma Manix-Geeves, Lizelle Lee, Hayley Jensen, Julia Cavanough | Out: Tayla Vlaeminck (Renegades), Sasha Moloney (Stars), Angela Genford (Sixers), Rachel Priest, Richa Ghosh, Belinda Vakarewa (Thunder)

Last season recap 6th
There was hope for an improved season for Hurricanes after several high profile signings but a slow start proved costly. Their batting was particularly inconsistent and reliant on South Africa star Mignon du Preez as they struggled to regularly post big totals. They showed glimpses of their potential with a strong end to the season, including a victory over eventual champions Scorchers, but finished with just five wins.

Key player
It just has to be Elyse Villani, who is their prized recruit amid a Hurricanes makeover. She is the fourth highest run scorer in WBBL history and should strengthen Hurricanes’ batting line-up considerably. After moving from Stars, Villani also takes the captaincy reins and will need to lead from the front to inspire a lift up the ladder for a franchise desperate for success.

One to watch
There is a lot of buzz on 17-year-old Amy Smith with the talented legspinner impressing for Tasmania during the WNCL, where she’s taken multiple three-wicket hauls. Smith has already had a taste of the WBBL, having claimed her first wicket at age 15, but this could be the season she makes a leap ahead of the Under-19 World Cup early next year.

Verdict
After shuffling the deck, Hurricanes appear stronger on paper with the signing of hard-hitting South African Lizelle Lee set to add potency to the batting order. However, the loss of Tayla Vlaeminck and Belinda Vakarewa from the pace attack, plus late withdrawal of Issy Wong, may leave them without a cutting edge. They once again enter with excitement and will hope history doesn’t repeat.

Melbourne Renegades

Sophie Molineux will hope her team can build on last seasonGetty Images

Captain Sophie Molineux
Coach Simon Helmot

Squad Sophie Molineux, Tayla Vlaeminck (unavailable), Georgia Wareham (unavailable), Harmanpreet Kaur, Shabnim Ismail, Hayley Matthews (WI), Sarah Coyte, Josie Dooley, Ellen Falconer, Ella Hayward, Erica Kershaw, Carly Leeson, Rhiann O’Donnell, Georgia Prestwidge, Courtney Webb In: Tayla Vlaeminck, Sarah Coyte, Georgia Prestwidge, Shabnim Ismail, Hayley Matthews, Erica Kershaw | Out: Jemimah Rodrigues (Stars), Eve Jones, Jess Duffin, Makinley Blows, Poppy Gardner

Last season recap Challenger
A mid-season run of six wins in seven matches carried them towards the finals, led by the more than 700 runs scored between India duo Harmanpreet Kaur and Jemimah Rodrigues. They coped well with the loss of Georgia Wareham early in the season (and she will also miss this campaign) as Harmanpreet added 15 wickets to her runs. However, two defeats at the end of round-robin stage suggested they were running out of steam and that was proved when they could only make 83 for 8 against Strikers in the Challenger.

Key player
Harmanpreet will likely be central to how Renegades go, but South Africa quick Shabnim Ismail offers something different and will help cover for the season-long absence of Tayla Vlaeminck who returned to the club over the winter but won’t be available until next season due to injury. Ismail remains among the fastest bowlers in the world.

One to watch
Spinner Ella Hayward is another who is eligible for the U-19 World Cup in South Africa next year. She had limited wicket-taking impact last season with just five scalps, but maintained an economy rate of 6.68.

Verdict
Even with the injuries to Vlaeminck and Wareham they have a good balance to their squad with Sarah Coyte adding significantly to the death bowling. If the three overseas players and captain Sophie Molineux have good seasons they should be firmly in finals contention.

Melbourne Stars

Annabel Sutherland will hope to bring WNCL form into the WBBLGetty Images

Captain Nicole Faltum
Coach Jonathan Batty

Squad Alice Capsey, Jemimah Rodrigues, Lauren Winfield-Hill, Lucy Cripps, Sophie Day, Nicole Faltum, Tess Flintoff, Kim Garth, Hasrat Gill, Olivia Henry, Meg Lanning (unavailable), Rhys McKenna, Sasha Moloney, Sophie Reid, Annabel Sutherland In: Jemimah Rodrigues, Alice Capsey, Lauren Winfield-Hill, Sasha Moloney, Sophie Reid, Olivia Henry, Hasrat Gill | Out: Elyse Villani (Hurricanes), Erin Osborne (retired), Maddy Darke (Scorchers), Maia Boucher, Linsey Smith, Georgia Gall, Anna Lanning

Last season recap 5th
Back-to-back wins in the middle of tournament suggested they might be able to put together a run to finals, but that never quite transpired. Defeat to Scorchers in the penultimate game ended their chances of qualifying, which meant a big chase in the final match led by Villani’s century was purely for pride. Villani led the run-scoring by a long way which was part of their problem.

Key player
Annabel Sutherland has started the season in prolific form for Victoria in the WNCL and will have a big role to play in a new-look top-order. She will want to lift last-season’s strike-rate of 82.65. Having tasted international cricket as a squad player there is also the chance for her to push as a middle-order replacement for Rachael Haynes.

One to watch
Left-arm spinner Sophie Day is another who has started the season strongly with 10 wickets in four WNCL matches. She struggled last season with four wickets from eight matches but looks set for a more senior role in the attack this time.

Verdict
With the losses of Villani and Meg Lanning the top order looks a little thin although their three overseas signings are all batters. That, in turn, means the bowling will again lean heavily on Sutherland and Kim Garth. Jonathan Batty is in his first season as head coach and a place in the knockouts would look like a successful outcome.

Perth Scorchers

The defending champions are strong againGetty Images

Captain Sophie Devine
Coach Shelley Nitschke

Squad Charis Bekker, Mathilda Carmichael, Piepa Cleary, Maddy Darke, Sophie Devine, Amy Edgar, Holly Ferling, Maddy Green, Marizanne Kapp (SA), Alana King, Lilly Mills, Beth Mooney, Taneale Peschel, Chloe Piparo, Georgia Wyllie In: Maddy Green, Holly Ferling, Maddy Darke, Georgia Wyllie | Out: Samantha Betts, Ashley Day, Heather Graham (Hurricanes), Chamari Athapaththu,

Last season recap 1st
After near misses, including two losing grand finals, Scorchers finally claimed a maiden title with a 12-run win over Strikers at Optus Stadium to cap a dominant season. Led by a belligerent Beth Mooney, who topped the WBBL in scoring with 547 runs, Scorchers powered to the top of the table having only lost three of 14 games. In front of a record crowd of 15,511 for a standalone WBBL match, Scorchers held their nerve in a classic final with prized South African recruit Marizanne Kapp the hero with a brilliant all-round performance. Mooney and skipper Sophie Devine were the fulcrums of the batting ,while seamer Heather Graham led a well-balanced attack with spinners Alana King and Lilly Mills proving a dangerous tandem.

Key player
It’s hard to look past Mooney and Devine, but the signing of Australia pace bowler Holly Ferling was key and her accurate seam bowling could help fill the void left by the departure of Graham, who moved to Hobart Hurricanes. An experienced campaigner, Ferling has played for Heat, Melbourne Stars and, most recently, Renegades and should relish the helpful conditions for quicks at the WACA.

One to watch
There is a lot of excitement over spinning allrounder Amy Edgar who is the reigning Zoe Goss medallist as WA’s best domestic cricketer after a breakout season. The hard-hitting batter produced several eye-catching knocks in last season’s WNCL, and her offspin has markedly improved. Renowned for her composure under pressure, the 24-year-old could well be in line for a WBBL debut early in the season.

Verdict
Scorchers look well stocked across the board with the addition of New Zealand’s Maddy Green set to strengthen the middle-order and ease the burden on stars Devine and Mooney. Outgoing pair Graham and veteran Sri Lanka batter Chamari Athapaththu will be missed, but a nice blend of international stars and local talent should ensure Scorchers are once again in the title mix as they seek a back-to-back triumph.

Sydney Sixers

Alyssa Healy will lead Sydney Sixers’ battingGetty Images

Captain Ellyse Perry
Coach Charlotte Edwards

Squad Jade Allen, Suzie Bates, Nicole Bolton, Maitlan Brown, Erin Burns, Stella Campbell, Lauren Cheatle, Sophie Ecclestone, Ashleigh Gardner, Angela Genford, Alyssa Healy, Ellyse Perry, Kate Petersen | In: Sophie Ecclestone, Angela Genford, Kate Petersen Out: Hayley Silver-Holmes (Hurricanes)

Last season 8th
Just four wins in 14 matches, and after winning their first two games, left them bottom for the first time. Ellyse Perry led the scoring but her strike-rate (91.32) became a talking point and she made just one fifty. Alyssa Healy and Ash Gardner did not fire consistently – their importance to the side was highlighted when two occasions they did in mid-season brought back-to-back wins to lift hopes. There were some muddled tactics, too, especially with Shafali Verma who struggled to adjust and was shunted around the order. Lauren Cheatle was the only bowler to take double-digit wickets.

Key player
Sixers have signed the best in the world in England’s Sophie Ecclestone as they again targeted a left-arm spinner. Last season they had India’s Radha Yadav and they will Ecclestone at least matches her economy (6.81) but also brings greater wicket-taking threat. She should also bring some hitting power to the lower order which could prove useful in finishing innings.

One to watch
Lauren Cheatle has had an injury-hit career but is still only 23. There are precious few left-arm swing bowlers in the women’s game and Cheatle can move the new white ball as much as anyone. Her returns last season (10 wickets at 14.50 with an economy of 5.37) showed what an asset she can be. If she can stay on the park, could prove a real point of difference.

Verdict
They certainly have a squad that looks as though it should compete and it does have a feel of a new(ish) era under Charlotte Edwards. But during their recent struggles the team has looked good at the outset. It may take more than a season for Sixers to return to the force they were, but would be a surprise if they finished bottom again.

Sydney Thunder

Can Rachael Haynes find the perfect finish to her career?Getty Images

Captain Rachael Haynes
Coach Trevor Griffin

Squad Rachael Haynes, Sam Bates, Tammy Beaumont, Hannah Darlington, Jessica Davidson, Corinne Hall, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Amy Jones, Anika Learoyd, Phoebe Litchfield, Olivia Porter, Lauren Smith, Chloe Tryon, Belinda Vakarewa, Tahlia Wilson In: Tammy Beaumont, Chloe Tryon, Amy Jones, Belinda Vakarewa | Out: Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma, Issy Wong, Kate Petersen (Sixers)

Last season recap 7th
They came back down to the earth after their maiden title in the 2020-21 season. The batting was hit by the absence of Rachael Haynes for the whole campaign and other than Smriti Mandhana, who won’t return this season having opted out to manage her workload, it was a struggle. They did not get a win until their sixth match which left them too much ground to make up

Key player
As an overseas top-order batter, Tammy Beaumont has big shoes to fill with effectively being the replacement for Mandhana. She has lost her England T20 place this year so will have a point to prove in the format and it will be vital she takes some of the run-scorer pressure off Haynes and Phoebe Litchfield who is still developing her T20 game.

One to watch
Tahlia Wilson is a highly-rated wicketkeeper-batter, so much so that she is expected to keep the gloves ahead of England’s Amy Jones. She started the WNCL season well for New South Wales including a maiden hundred against New South Wales and she is one of the players the team will need an increased output from to make a challenge.

Verdict
They look a little bit light to be title challengers this season, although the motivation to give Haynes a winning send-off to her career could be an unquantifiable factor. Hannah Darlington’s knee injury is a big blow, although she is hopeful of making the latter part of the competition, but Belinda Vakarewa’s signing will help. A lot could rest on Sammy-Jo Johnson’s shoulders and the consistent left-arm spin of Sam Bates.

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