A lot has changed in and around the Women’s Big Bash League since Heather Knight hit Melbourne Stars’ Alana King for a massive six to seal Sydney Thunder's second WBBL title. For starters, neither Knight nor King will play for their respective franchises in the upcoming season of the WBBL. An unprecedented number of Indian players will be part of the seventh season which starts on Thursday (October 14) with a clash between Meg Lanning’s Melbourne Stars and Ellyse Perry’s Sydney Sixers.
A fully televised season of the WBBL will see matches being played in all Australian states, excluding Victoria and New South Wales, who are still under strict lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ahead of the tournament, Women's CricZone takes a closer look at all of the squads that will participate in seventh season of the WBBL:
WBBL06 result: Champions
In: Corinne Hall (Hurricanes), Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma, Issy Wong, Jessica Davidson
Out: Rachael Trenaman (Hurricanes), Tammy Beaumont, Heather Knight, Shabnim Ismail, Saskia Horley
The defending champions will be without all of their overseas players from the previous season, Heather Knight and Tammy Beaumont, but they have recruited well, with Indian stars Smriti Mandhana and Deepti Sharma taking their places in the squad. Mandhana showed her class with the bat during the multi-format series against Australia, topping the run charts with over 300 runs. India’s T20I vice-captain also has some leadership experience at the international level, which can help Thunder if regular skipper, Rachael Haynes decides to sit some matches out following the birth of her son.
ALSO READ: Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma to play for Sydney Thunder in WBBL07
Thunder’s coach Trevor Griffin, who also coached Sharma during The Hundred has praised the allrounder, terming her a "like-for-like replacement" for Knight. Uncapped English fast bowling sensation, Issy Wong, has earned her maiden spot in the WBBL due to Shabnim Ismail’s knee injury, and Thunder will expect her to be their enforcer with the ball.
Even with an entirely new overseas contingent, Thunder still have strong local players, including Hannah Darlington, Sammy-Jo Johnson and Phoebe Litchfield. Darlington’s performance under pressure in the knock-outs played a vital role in Thunder's eventual championship win, while Johnson was the mainstay of the group throughout the tournament.
Squad: Rachael Haynes (c), Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma, Issy Wong, Sam Bates, Hannah Darlington, Jessica Davidson, Corinne Hall, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Anika Learoyd, Phoebe Litchfield, Kate Peterson, Olivia Porter, Lauren Smith, Tahlia Wilson
WBBL06 result: Runners-up
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, Bhavisha Devchand
Melbourne Stars were the team to beat during the sixth edition of the WBBL before they crumbled against Sydney Thunder in the final at the North Sydney Oval. Just like Thunder, Stars will be without their English internationals Katherine Brunt and Natalie Sciver. South African veteran Mignon du Preez has also moved to Hobart Hurricanes.
They have added the English duo of Maia Bouchier and Linsey Smith to the squad. Bouchier recently made her international debut for England against New Zealand. England legend Charlotte Edwards called her a ‘standout’ performer for the Southern Brave during The Hundred. Left-arm spinner Smith has represented England in nine T20Is as well. Stars' third international Kim Garth was a vital part of the Sydney Sixers unit that won two back-to-back WBBL titles in seasons two and three.
ALSO READ: Melbourne Stars sign Maia Bouchier for WBBL07
Amongst the local group of players Alana King and Holly Ferling’s departures have left a hole in the Stars unit, but they still have the experience of Meg Lanning, Elyse Villani and Erin Osborne. In the absence of big-name players from the previous season, Annabel Sutherland has the responsibility of being a marquee player on her shoulders. Nicole Faltum and Tess Flintoff have shown some promise in previous seasons, but they need to do a lot more this time if the Stars are to make it to the knock-out stage.
Squad: Meg Lanning (c), Annabel Sutherland, Maia Bouchier, Kim Garth, Linsey Smith, Lucy Cripps, Maddy Darke, Nicole Faltum, Tess Flintoff, Georgia Gall, Anna Lanning, Rhys McKenna, Erin Osborne, Elyse Villani
WBBL06 result: Semi-finalist
In: Anneke Bosch, Ellie Johnston, Poonam Yadav, Zoe Cooke
Out: Delissa Kimmince (retired), Amelia Kerr, Maddy Green, Lilly Mills (Scorchers)
Despite losing reliable Beth Mooney, allrounder Sammy-Jo Johnson and captain Kirby Short before the sixth season, under the leadership of Jess Jonassen Brisbane Heat finished second on the points table and almost made their way into a third consecutive final. They will miss the services of Delissa Kimmince, who announced her retirement from international cricket in April, and New Zealand, allrounder Amelia Kerr, who opted out of the tournament to continue to focus on mental health.
ALSO READ: Poonam Yadav roped in by Brisbane Heat for WBBL07
Heat have retained South African allrounder Nadine de Klerk and also signed her national teammate Anneke Bosch. Both de Klerk and Bosch were impressive against India earlier this year and earned the praise from the national captain Dane van Niekerk. Veteran Indian leg-spinner Poonam Yadav will replace Kerr and Heat can benefit from her international experience.
Heat have kept their hard-hitting core group of local players together which includes, Grace Harris, Laura Kimmince, Georgia Redmayne and Georgia Voll. Kimmince and Redmayne were also part of the inaugural season of The Hundred and are capable of hitting big. Redmayne had a spectacular domestic season with Queensland Fire in the Women’s National Cricket League and earned her maiden call-up to the national team for the series against India.
Captain Jess Jonassen is coming back from the stress reaction in her lower leg that ruled her out of the entire series against India. It will be interesting to see how she manages her performance with the captaincy duties.
Squad: Jess Jonassen (c), Anneke Bosch, Nadine de Klerk, Poonam Yadav, Zoe Cooke, Nicola Hancock, Grace Harris, Laura Kimmince, Mikayla Hinkley, Charli Knott, Georgia Prestwidge, Georgia Redmayne, Courtney Sippel, Georgia Voll
WBBL06 result: Semi-finalist
In: Marizanne Kapp (Sixers), Chamari Atapattu, 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
Perth Scorchers were the first team to complete their international signings when they roped in Sri Lankan captain Chamari Atapattu and South African pacer Marizanne Kapp, who was released by Sydney Sixers. With New Zealand captain Sophie Devine back for the second season with them, Scorchers would like to reach their first final since the third season. They will miss the English duo of Sarah Glenn and Amy Jones, but at the same time, they have enough local talent to fill that void.
Also Read: Perth Scorchers sign Marizanne Kapp, Chamari Atapattu for WBBL07
The semi-finalist from the previous season did lose experienced allrounder Nicole Bolton to Sydney Sixers but managed to pick leg spinner Alana King from the Melbourne Stars and allrounder Lisa Griffith from the Sixers. Australian T20I opener Beth Mooney will handle the glove duties for the second season in the row and she has been in supreme form throughout the series against India.
Devine will lead the team and her with Mooney at the top will pose a challenge to all the bowling attacks in the competition. Heather Graham was one of the standout performers for the Scorchers, both with bat and ball, along with Piepa Cleary, who has played for Welsh Fire in The Hundred. Scorchers have the squad to make it to the knockouts, provided their experienced players stand up when necessary.
Squad: Sophie Devine (c), Beth Mooney, Chamari Atapattu, Marizanne Kapp, Samantha Betts, Mathilda Carmichael, Piepa Cleary, Ashley Day, Amy Edgar, Heather Graham, Lisa Griffith, Alana King, Lilly Mills, Taneale Peschel, Chloe Piparo
WBBL06 result: Fifth
In: Maitlan Brown (Renegades), Nicole Bolton (Sixers), Jade Allen, Matilda Lugg, Radha Yadav, Shafali Verma
Out: Marizanne Kapp (Scorchers), Dane van Niekerk, Sarah Aley (retired), Maddy Darke (Stars), Lisa Griffith (Scorchers), Jodie Hicks
Sydney Sixers were the least changed side during the sixth season of the competition. When other teams struggled to maintain the group of core players, Sixers managed to keep them together, but they failed to reach the semi-finals for the second season in a row. Sixers went with the big overhaul mentality ahead of the seventh season and released veterans like Marizanne Kapp and Dane van Niekerk and added Indian superstars Shafali Verma and Radha Yadav. No.1 ranked T20I batter, Verma has time and again proved her prowess as one of the hardest hitters in the game and she has the opportunity to take the tournament by storm.
Also Read: Shafali Verma, Radha Yadav to play for Sydney Sixers in WBBL07
Sarah Aley, who retired as Sixers’ highest ever wicket-taker has left big shoes to fill, but the likes of Maitlan Brown and Stella Campbell, who both were in the squad against India are capable of providing the depth. Lauren Cheatle’s return from the injury will benefit the Sixers and they still have Ellyse Peery as the captain. Erin Burns and newest recruit Nicole Bolton can bowl in the middle overs and are excellent fielders as well.
Along with their international stars, Sixers have two of Australia’s most explosive batters in their squad in Alyssa Healy and Ashleigh Gardner. Gardner missed some of the matches in the previous season due to concussion protocols and it did cost Sixers in the long run. Perry’s form with the bat and ball was the talk of the town during the recently concluded series against India, but as always there will be a sense of expectation around her whenever she takes the field.
Squad: Ellyse Perry* (c), Ashleigh Gardner*, Alyssa Healy*, Shafali Verma (Ind), Radha Yadav (Ind), Jade Allen, Nicole Bolton, Maitlan Brown, Erin Burns, Stella Campbell, Lauren Cheatle, Emma Hughes, Matilda Lugg, Angela Reakes, Hayley Silver-Holmes (injured - hip), Claire Moore (injury replacement)
WBBL06 result: Sixth
In: Jemma Barsby (Scorchers), Nell Bryson-Smith, Meagan Dixon, Dane van Niekerk (Sixers)
Out: Ellen Falconer (Renegades), Suzie Bates, Alex Price, Stafanie Taylor
Adelaide Strikers have maintained their core and roped in some of the best players in the competition to build a squad without their long-time leader Suzie Bates, who misses out due to uncertainty over quarantine rules. Strikers have added South African captain Dane van Niekerk in the mix, who recently led the Oval Invincibles to the title victory in the inaugural season of The Hundred. Van Niekerk joins her fellow South African teammate, Laura Wolvaardt, who was impressive for the side in the previous season.
ALSO READ: Megan Schutt signs three year extension with the Strikers
In Tahlia McGrath and Darcie Brown, Strikers have two of the best marquee players, who can quickly take the game away from the opposition. McGrath proved she is one of the most improved allrounders in the game as she was awarded the ‘Player of the Series’ in the series against India. With the addition of Megan Schutt, Strikers have the power to topple other experienced sides as well. However, it will be interesting to see how they cope with her absence in the opening round of the competition.
Katie Mack and Amanda-Jade Wellington got the opportunity in The Hundred and they played a vital role for the Birmingham Phoenix and Southern Brave, respectively, with Wellington being one of the top wicket-takers in the competition. Bridget Patterson and Madeline Penna found their groove in the Women’s National Cricket League (WNCL) and Strikers management would like them to continue that form in the shortest format.
Squad: Darcie Brown, Tahlia McGrath, Megan Schutt, Dane van Niekerk, Laura Wolvaardt, Jemma Barsby, Nell Bryson-Smith, Sarah Coyte, Meagan Dixon, Katie Mack, Tegan McPharlin, Bridget Patterson, Maddie Penna, Annie O'Neil, Amanda-Jade Wellington
WBBL06 result: Seventh
In: Harmanpreet Kaur, Jemimah Rodrigues, Evelyn 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
Like many other sides, Melbourne Renegades will be without all three of their international players from the previous season including, New Zealand pair Amy Satterthwaite and Lea Tahuhu and South African international Lizelle Lee. Renegades were active during the off-season as they recruited Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur as well as Jemimah Rodrigues, who found her form during the Hundred.
Also Read: Harmanpreet Kaur to play for Melbourne Renegades in WBBL07
Renegades lost the tournament’s highest wicket-taker, Molly Strano, to Hobart Hurricanes and one of their promising talents, Maitlan Brown, to Sydney Sixers. The addition of uncapped England player, Evelyn Jones, who was consistent during The Hundred has made Renegades genuine contenders for the top-four finish. Sophie Molineux will be in charge of the team and she will benefit a lot from the likes of Kaur and Holly Ferling.
Jess Duffin, who missed out on the previous season due to maternity leave will mark her comeback in this season and Renegades would like her to take that leadership role with the bat. Josie Dooley and Carly Leeson were amongst the most impactful players during the hard-fought season of the WNCL and along with Australian international Georgia Wareham can add firepower to the Renegades line-up.
Squad: Sophie Molineux (c), Georgia Wareham, Evelyn Jones (Eng), Harmanpreet Kaur (Ind), Jemimah Rodrigues (Ind), Makinley Blows, Josie Dooley, Jess Duffin, Ellen Falconer, Holly Ferling, Poppy Gardner, Ella Hayward, Carly Leeson, Rhiann O’Donnell, Courtney Webb
WBBL06 result: Eighth
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 (SA), Brooke Hepburn (retired), Hayley Matthews (WI), Erica Kershaw
Hobart Hurricanes managed to rope in one of the most consistent performers of the WBBL in Molly Strano from the Melbourne Renegades and experienced South African international Mignon du Preez from the Melbourne Stars. Strano is the first player to take 100 WBBL wickets and du Preez has the experience of more than 100 T20Is under her belt. Former New Zealand wicket-keeper Rachel Priest will lead the side as Corinne Hall shifted to Sydney Thunder ahead of the season.
Also Read: Richa Ghosh confirmed to play Hobart Hurricanes in WBBL07
India’s first-choice wicketkeeper-batter during the series against Australia Richa Ghosh will play her first-ever WBBL season for the Hurricanes as she replaced South African opener, Lizelle Lee. Ghosh, the 18-year-old has a reputation of clean hitting backed up by her ability behind the stumps and Hurricanes would like to benefit from her talents. Australian internationals in Nicola Carey along with tearaway fast bowler Tayla Vlaeminck have added responsibility around this squad.
With a relatively new squad the long time Hurricanes players, like Sasha Moloney, Belinda Vakarewa and Naomi Stalenberg will have to up their game against the more experienced sides. Amy Smith, who took the competition by the storm last year has an opportunity to do it again for the Tasmanian team. Hurricanes’ best outcomes so far came during the first two seasons of the WBBL, and they would like to finish in the top four with the squad they have at their disposal.
Squad: Rachel Priest (c)(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 (injured - ACL)
Viewers in India can catch all the matches of the upcoming Women's Big Bash League live on Sony Six and Sony Six HD. The matches will also be live streamed on the Sony Liv website and app.