Hobart Hurricanes rope in Rachel Priest; re-sign Belinda Vakarewa, Chloe Tryon

Women's CricZone Staff
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Rachel Priest re-signs with Sydney Thunder

Rachel Priest in action for Sydney Thunder. © Sydney Thunder

With the confirmations of Priest and Tryon, Hurricanes have now completed their quota of five marquee players joining Australians Nicola Carey and Tayla Vlaeminck and West Indies’ Hayley Matthews, who already held multi-year deals. It means England skipper Heather Knight who was a part of the Hurricanes squad last season could be seen in different colours.

However, Hurricanes coach Salliann Briggs added that Knight has always remained in their radar considering the uncertainty around travel restrictions and player availability and the player occupying their third international spot may change. “Hayley has got to go to the ICC World Cup qualifiers, which at the minute is at the same time as the WBBL,” Briggs said on Tuesday. “We still don’t know if internationals can make it over, so we’ve got to keep conversations open.”

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Briggs, a former cricketer herself, also suggested that South Africa are set to tour England in September and it could mean players from both sides could travel directly to Australia after the series ahead of the start of WBBL on October 17.

“We know Chloe can highly likely get here from England,” she said. “We could look at (fellow South Africans) Lizelle Lee and Mignon du Preez … but the key thing in our recruitment is to make sure we use that overseas spot as someone who can make runs for us.

“The stats show we’ve been very dominant with the ball, we were probably second-best bowling team in the competition, so when you want to import someone, having an impact in the top order would be most beneficial to us,” added the 36-year-old Briggs.

The addition of Priest, who retired from international cricket earlier this year, could prove to be the boon for Hurricanes' top order as they struggled to settle a solid opening combination last season finishing as low as seventh in the ladder with just four wins from 14 games. Priest currently holds a state contract with Tasmania.

“We’ve struggled to establish our best opening combination at the top of the order, so we are pleased to fill one of the spots with a very talented and experienced campaigner,” Briggs said of Priest. “I’d like to think if we get that winning combination at the top of the order that sets up our middle order to play their natural game. Unfortunately, they were in way too early last year.”

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With Tryon belting out 248 runs coming in at middle-order last season at a strike rate of 178.41, it was a no-brainer that she would be retained.  “It was a no brainer for us to re-sign Chloe,” Briggs said. “She was unbelievable last year. Chloe is a genuine match-winner and gives you the feeling that you are always in the game, she makes things happen. I don’t think I’ve ever worked or seen anyone who can hit a ball like she does.”

In the bowling department, Vakarewa was one of the standout stars in the last season for Hurricanes and along with the likes of Vlaeminck and Carey, the trio forms a potent pace attack. The 22-year-old collected as many as 20 wickets in WBBL05 which also earned her a spot in the official WBBL Team of the Tournament.

“It was an easy decision to re-sign,” Vakarewa said on Tuesday. “I love the culture, the team, the girls. I had the most fun I’ve ever had in my last season, on and off the field, because it’s such a good environment to be in.” Meanwhile, Briggs also informed that Erin Fazackerly would not play for the Hurricanes this season, after deciding to take a break from cricket when she turned down a state contract with Tasmania earlier this year.

Hobart currently have 10 players on their roster for WBBL06, leaving just five spots to fill before the end of the contracting period on September 25. The squad: Nicola Carey (Aus), Maisy Gibson, Corinne Hall, Brooke Hepburn, Hayley Matthews (WI), Sasha Moloney, Rachel Priest (NZ), Chloe Tryon (SA), Belinda Vakarewa, Tayla Vlaeminck (Aus).