As the weather heats up on the east coast and the majority of us flock to the beaches and begin our regular BBQ lunches, a group of cricketers are getting ready to descend onto the freshly cut grass of the cricket oval.
This summer will be the first time since I was nine that I won't be slapping on the sun cream and wearing whites, instead I hope to be part of the majority trying to find some vacant land on the hot sand.
That being said, it certainly doesn't mean that I won't be closely following the women's domestic competitions.
In fact I’ll be keeping you updated via cricket.com.au throughout the season so stay tuned for all the female cricket news here!
With the first round of the Women's National Cricket League (WNCL) and the Women's T20 League (WT20) just one sleep away, the current holder of both trophies, the Lend Lease Breakers, have the first bye.
This could be an important advantage for the Breakers, as looking at the broad cross-section of State representation in the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars and Shooting Stars squads, I am expecting both titles will be more tightly contested this year.
To get us ready for a great summer of women’s cricket I thought it would be helpful to provide you all with a brief overview of each squad and how I expect the teams will fair this summer.
Lend Lease Breakers WNCL 12/13 – 1st WT20 12/13 – 1st
The Breakers have certainly dominated the WNCL tournament since its inception in 1996/97 season, winning an amazing 15 titles out of 17 and while they only collected their first WT20 trophy last year they have featured in all the T20 finals.
I expect that the Breakers will again be the team to beat as there are no real changes to the squad other than myself leaving.
With the new Cricket Australia contracting system, it has meant that additional younger players will have had the opportunity to be a part of the Breakers and we may see some strong cameos from the younger group.
Players to watch: Although I am a New South Welshman (sometimes a biased opinion) it is hard to pick out just a couple of players as I feel there are a number of players that are match winners.
Alex Blackwell should again lead the way for the Breakers as her domestic numbers with the bat are exceptional and she will be well supported with Rachel Haynes, Alyssa Healy and Leah Poulton.
Players on the move will be Ellyse Perry and Erin Osborne. No doubt they will continue to take the majority of wickets for the Breakers, but look out for them to also have an impact with the bat.
Queensland Fire WNCL 12/13 – 2nd WT20 12/13 – 5th
This is a team that certainly has potential and showed that last year, having made their second final since the inception of the WNCL.
With plenty of young talent, as well as experienced players such as Jodie Fields, Mel Bulow and Kirsten Pike, if they get off to a good start in the season they will feed off that and I wouldn't be surprised to see them to be up there come the end of the season.
They lose the experience of Jude Coleman with the ball due to retirement, but with the spin trio of Jessica Jonassen, Jemma Barsby and Grace Harris at their disposal, they certainly have enough talent to fill that void and worry any opposition.
Players to watch: I expect Jemma Barsby to have learned a lot on the recent Women’s Ashes Series in the UK and will put it to good use this season. I also expect Holly Ferling and Delissa Kimmince to shine.
Alcohol. Think Again Western Fury WNCL 12/13 - 4th WT20 12/13 – 2nd
Steve Jenkin showed his undeniable talent as coach in his debut season with the Fury last year, steering the team to the T20 final.
This was their first final appearance since the 1999 WNCL season.
With another pre-season under their belt and the re-signing of New Zealand captain Suzie Bates and other experienced players such as Kate Blackwell (former Commonwealth Bank Southern Star and Lend Lease Breaker) and Sarah Tsukigawa (former New Zealand player) their squad is looking very competitive.
They will again be led by Nicole Bolton, who was close to selection for the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars last season and is building in confidence both on the field and off the field.
They will miss Renee Chappell and Kate Burns in the bowling department as they were two bowlers who bowled a lot of overs for the Fury.
However, with the experience of the other players in their squad, they have enough fire power to challenge the traditionally stronger teams.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make another final this year.
Players to watch: I like Chloe Piparo and Heather Graham as up-and-coming players who performed well last year and I believe will take it to another level this year.
I will also be watching with interest how Tsukigawa and Blackwell go after being out of the game for a number of years.
Commonwealth Bank VicSpirit WNCL 12/13 – 3rd WT20 12/13 – 3rd
The VicSpirit girls would have been bitterly disappointed not to make either final last season, something that they pride themselves on.
Therefore, under the helm of the new Head Coach, Barry Neivandt, (former Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars Assistant Coach 2004-05), I believe that VicSpirit will once again challenge for the finals.
They say a change is as good as a holiday and in my experience a new coach automatically gives the playing group a new spark and by doing so I expect more consistent performances out of them this year.
That being said I still feel they are vulnerable in the bowling department.
The only real change to their squad is that they are missing Danni Wyatt (current England player) due to touring duties, but they have retained the services of ‘Super Mum’ Sarah Elliott on a full-time basis.
Players to watch: Sarah Elliott, who had recent success in the Women’s Ashes Test match and will be out to prove that she is capable at playing across all formats.
Emma Inglisis also starting to really show her form with the bat.
ACT Meteors WNCL 12/13 – 5th WT20 12/13 – 4th
Out of all the domestic teams, the Meteors have had the biggest changes to their roster.
With the likes of Lynsey Askew, Asha Smith and Aimee Harris not playing cricket this season for various reasons, they have replaced these players with a number of young NSW U-18 players.
However, I see the performance of players such as Katie Mack (former Breakers squad member) and Kira Churchland (former Breakers development player) as being critical to how the ACT Meteors’ season plays out.
If the team is able to do the one-percenters both on and off the field they will have more success this season than their last.
Andrew Dawson is in his second year as coach and will be expecting big things from his players in all aspects of the game.
The Meteors should be very competitive in season 13/14.
Players to watch: Sam Bates had some impact last season and again will threaten with the ball.
They will rely heavily on Kriss Britt and Laura Wright with the bat and will need another one of their players to put their hand up regularly.
And in the biggest mystery, there are rumours that Nicola Browne (current New Zealand all-rounder) may be involved during the season with the Meteors, but nothing is confirmed just yet…stay tuned on that front.
South Australian Scorpions WNCL 12/13 – 6th WT20 12/13 – 7th
The Scorpions are a team that over the last three seasons lost some of the greats of the game and since then have struggled to replace them.
With a relatively young playing group they will again have to rely heavily on Lauren Ebsary who can win them games of T20 off her own bat.
Ebsary will have to find a partner to take some of the pressure off her.
The great thing about this young side is that they are all back for another season and would have learned a lot from last season.
Let’s hope for them and the competition that they start to get some wins on the board.
Players to watch: As I always say, spinners are winners and there is a lot to like about Alex Price and Amanda Wellington who are both big turners of the ball.
Megan Schutt would have been disappointed with her Women’s Ashes campaign and will need to show selectors consistent performances, which I believe she can deliver.
Cripps Tasmanian Roar WNCL 12/13 – 7th WT20 12/13 – 6th
The biggest change to the Roar is their coach Julie Price (former Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars, Fire and Roar player).
Price will bring a wealth of experience to the young group of players and structured training and match plans.
Since the Roar entered the WT20 competition in the 2009-10 season they have been able to retain the core group of players.
Last year they defeated VicSpirit in a T20 match, which I am sure has empowered the group to believe that they can beat quality opposition.
They will again threaten more experienced sides, but will need to learn how to land the final knockout punch if they are to walk away with more wins this year.
Players to watch: Erin Burns will be a key in their side as the all-rounder as well as Veronia Pyke.
They will need a few more players to step up and would be looking at Corinne Hall and Carly Ryan with the bat and Katelyn Fryett with the ball to be these players.