WCSL: Young Players to Watch

Jamie Ramage
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WCSL: Young Players to Watch
When it comes to the domestic T20 competitions around the world, the Women's Cricket Super League in England is the one of the two main domestic series for unearthing talent. There is also the Women's Big Bash League in Australia as well. Over the course of the last three editions of the WCSL, there has been a great opportunity for young players to prove their potential in front of the international selectors. The competition has helped England unearth the likes of Sophia Dunkley, Mady Villiers, Kirstie Gordon and Linsey Smith, and there will be a few more on show in the 2019 version.

Women's CricZone takes a look at ten players who have the potential to kick on and become stars (and not just of the Surrey variety)!

Issy Wong – Southern Vipers

Issy Wong © Getty Images Issy Wong © Getty Images

At only 17 this will be Wong’s first WCSL. A bowler whose deliveries hurry on to the batters, she was an integral part of the Warwickshire side that won the county T20 Cup this year. Wong also went on the Academy tour of India in April.

She is currently a student at Shrewsbury school, where James Taylor once attended. She has been part of the Worcestershire setup before this season but under the tutelage of Dominic Ostler and Laura MacLeod, Wong has really started to flourish.

The Southern Vipers may have just unearthed one of the potential 'finds of the tournament'.

Sarah Glenn – Loughborough Lightning

Sarah Glenn © Getty Images Sarah Glenn © Getty Images

Glenn is a big-hitting allrounder. If she can get some rhythm with the bat, then Glenn can score quickly. This may be the year that the 19-year-old steps up and makes that role here own. In the absence of Sophie Devine for the Lightning this year, quick runs will be needed more than ever.

Aside from her prowess with the bat, Glenn doubles up as a useful leg-spinner. She may still be a bit raw, however, with Linsey Smith moving to Yorkshire Diamonds there will be more pressure on her and Lucy Higham to bowl some crucial overs.

Danielle Gibson – Western Storm

Danielle Gibson © Getty Images Danielle Gibson © Getty Images

It will be Gibson’s third season for Western Storm. She played in every game for Storm in 2018 and much will be expected of the 18-year-old again this year. Gibson is a good young bowler who took 5 wickets last year at an average of 27.20.

Gibson who plays her county cricket with Wales told the Western Storm website that “I’m really looking forward to it. It’s great to be able to work with Heather and Anya, and to see how they go about their preparation.”

Mady Villiers – Surrey Stars

Mady Villiers in action for the England Academy. ©Getty Images Mady Villiers. ©Getty Images

Villiers recently made her England debut in the final T20I of the Women’s Ashes series at Bristol. She showed on that day that she is very rarely overawed by any situation she finds herself in. An off-spinner, she bowls a good line and length and varies her pace and angles intelligently.

Villiers picked up the wicket of Alyssa Healy as her first international wicket. It will be interesting to see if Natalie Sciver throws her the ball when the two meet when Surrey play Yorkshire Diamonds.

Villiers is no stranger to the WCSL as well as she helped her side win the 2018 final at Hove finishing with figures of 3 for 22.

Katie George - Yorkshire Diamonds

Katie George. © Getty Images Katie George. © Getty Images

George made her T20I debut in March of 2018 but has found herself out of favour since. The Hampshire pace bowler has previously been part of the Southern Vipers squad so knows all about this competition.

This time around however she has been moved ‘up north.’ There is little doubt that she won’t shine for the Diamonds and bowling in tandem with Katherine Brunt is going to be an interesting combination.

It could just be the spark for the Diamonds and for George who cannot be too far away from being a potential long-term replacement for Brunt in the England side. She has a rookie contract with England and the fact that she is a left-arm bowler may just help her cause as she offers something a little different.

Emma Lamb - Lancashire Thunder

Emma Lamb. © Getty Images Emma Lamb. © Getty Images

It could be a big year for the all-rounder. Lamb is a proven match-winner in the WCSL as she spun the Thunder to victory at Liverpool against Southern Vipers 4 for 17 in a four-run victory.

As well as her off-spin she is a capable top-order batter. She has consistently scored runs at county level for Lancashire and if she can add important runs for Lancashire Thunder then she is one of a group of Academy players that are looking to move on to higher honours.

Bryony Smith- Surrey Stars

Bryony Smith. © Getty Images Bryony Smith. © Getty Images

Smith is another all-rounder who made her international debut this year in an ODI against West Indies. Smith bowled tidily with her off-spin at Chelmsford. She did not show what she can do with the bat that day.

A clean hitter and a regular at the top of the Surrey Stars batting line-up and with Lizelle Lee alongside they are amongst the best opening partnerships in this year’s competition.

Smith has been a regular for Surrey Stars and this year received an England contract. This will be the perfect opportunity to book a place on the plane to Australia for the Women’s T20 World Cup next February.

Sophia Dunkley – Lancashire Thunder

publive-image © Getty Images

Like George, Dunkley has been moved to a team at the other end of the country to where she plays her domestic cricket. Also, like George, this could be a good move for Dunkley where the focus can be totally on the cricket.

There were signs that Dunkley’s cricket had come on leaps and bounds in the 2018 KSL. She was more consistent with both bat and ball.

At Cheltenham last year she took the wickets of Smriti Mandhana, Heather Knight and Stafanie Taylor in the space of two overs with her leg-spin.

It was probably that game that England’s selectors took notice. Dunkley was part of the England squad that finished runners-up in the 2018 ICC World T20 in the Caribbean. There weren't many chances to bat but when she did she batted well in the defeat to West Indies. Her 35 from 30 balls showed she is a calm and relaxed performer.

Kathryn Bryce – Loughborough Lightning

Kathryn Bryce. © Getty Images Kathryn Bryce. © Getty Images

Like Kirstie Gordon before her Bryce makes the move to the Lightning squad. Gordon shone during the 2018 KSL, so will fellow Scot fair as well.

Bryce is the captain of Scotland and misses a quadrangular series to take part in the KSL. Already a student at Loughborough University, Bryce will have no trouble settling in.

A top-order batter, she will have to find a way to fit into a batting line-up that will include Hayley Matthews and Chamari Atapattu.

Rob Taylor the Lightning head coach and former Scotland international said of Bryce “She is a three-dimensional cricketer and will be a valuable asset… with lots of experience of leading Scotland in high-pressure tournaments.”

Lauren Bell - Southern Vipers

Lauren Bell. © Getty Images Lauren Bell. © Getty Images

Bell the Berkshire player is pace bowler who is highly rated. She has trained with the England squad this season.

Bell made her Vipers debut last season and should get more opportunities to show her undoubted talent with Katie George no longer with the Vipers. The young bowler is also part of the England Academy set-up.