Lisa Sthalekar is an Australian cricket legend who was the first player to score 1,000 runs and take 100 wickets in ODIs in her glittering Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars career. This summer, she is staging a comeback for the Sydney Sixers in the Women's Big Bash League.
Today will be a historic day with the inaugural Rebel Women's Big Bash League set to kick off with the Melbourne Stars hosting Brisbane Heat at Junction oval.
While there has been a domestic T20 competition in place for a number of years, this will be the first time the shortest format in the women’s game moves from state based teams to city franchises.
Expect to see the usual suspects from the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars gracing the field, although they will be in a different colour uniform than what we are use to seeing.
However, the most exciting aspect of the competition is that spectators will get the opportunity to see the depth of female players in Australia, plus the scattering of International players across the eight teams.
To assist you as the viewer, here are players to look out for that you may not know that well.
Well there isn’t much to report on here, given that they are now my enemy!
On a serious note, look out for Nicola Carey, who is part of the Commonwealth Bank Shooting Stars squad and had the opportunity to attend the World T20 in Sri Lanka in 2012 with the Australian side. As a left-hand batter who loves to score quickly, her performances have been building nicely and the WBBL might just be a break-out season for her.
The Thunder’s one and only overseas player is certainly an exciting prospect. Stafanie Taylor from the West Indies is a hard hitting top-order batter, who bowls very effective off-spin. With an average of 36 in her 65 T20 international matches, she is actually averaging more than the Southern Stars captain, Meg Lanning.
I can’t go pass a good mate of mine, who is also on the comeback trail. Shelly Nitschke who last played a competitive game of cricket in 2011. Nitschke will be the oldest player in the competition, though at her peak she was the ranked the No. 1 allrounder in the ICC rankings. Her experience will already assist a group of players that are already on a high after winning the WNCL only last weekend.
Quick Single: Nitschke nurtures talent at U19 Champs
A player that played a handful of games for the SA Scorpions this year, but unfortunately wasn’t available for the WNCL final, is Sophie Devine. Devine recently scored an unbeaten 162 in the New Zealand domestic competition last weekend, that included 10 fours and 10 sixes. Expect plenty of boundaries to come off her willow, as well as sending down lightning bolts with the ball.
One of the most exciting players in the domestic competition and the most recent Southern Stars player; Grace Harris, has the ability to clear the boundary with ease and impart a lot of spin on the bowl. In her short career for the Southern Stars she has already scored two thirds of her runs through boundaries.
Kate Cross, one of the seven English players to play in the WBBL, missed out on playing the T20 games in the recent Ashes series. A young up-and-coming bowler who will share the new ball with Holly Ferling, Cross will certainly add more fire to the Heat.
Stricken by a knee injury last year, Erin Burns will be hoping to stay on the park for the entire WBBL season. The allrounder has a strike-rate over 110 in the shortest format and she can demolish a bowling attack easily if she gets in. Burns also bowls handy off-spin that saw her pick up 10 wickets in last year Women’s T20 competition.
Hayley Matthews from the West Indies is the youngest international player in the competition at 17. The top order batter has had some success against Southern Stars last year when they toured Australia in November 2014. All the West Indies players are some of the most athletic players in the world, so expect to see that power with the bat, ball and in the field.
Kris Britt will again don the red uniform, having played her early career for the Scorpions. At 32 years of age, Britt certainly has seen the game transform and as a clean striker of the ball, plus the ability to rip her leg-spinning deliveries, she may be just what the Renegades require.
One of the most improved players in the New Zealand White Ferns, Rachel Priest, has enjoyed the promotion up the order. In her last 10 matches for New Zealand or Wellington she has posted two centuries and two half centuries.
You might of heard of a player named Meg Lanning, she isn’t that good (kidding!), but other players to watch out for are Natalie Sciver from England and Katie Mack.
Stars have been smart by recruiting Sciver who has had a great amount of success against Australia. As a genuine allrounder, her last performance against Australia saw her pick up 4-15 and score 47 runs to win the match for England.
Mack, has made the move from the ACT Meteors to the Stars. A current Commonwealth Bank Shooting Stars member who travelled to Dubai in April to play against England Academy, Mack is a busy player at the top of the order who might be the perfect partner to Lanning out in the middle. Expect to see her also throw herself around in the field, as she loves to be involved.
With two International captains (Charlotte Edwards and Suzie Bates) within the squad, the Scorchers will have no shortage of experience out on the field.
Having said that, one player I am looking forward to seeing is Katherine Brunt. A fierce competitor who bowls a heavy ball, Brunt really shone as well with the bat during the recent Ashes Series. Look out for her, there certainly won’t be a dull moment with ball or bat in her hand.
Known for her skills with the bat in the shortest format, Elyse Villani will be partnering with some of the best batters in the world, that will give her the advantage of potentially dominating the WBBL. With an impressive average of 29 at an International level, she will want to put in some good performances after a quiet Ashes campaign.
With such a dynamic, athletic group it is hard to narrow down the list (haha!).
Another player that I am excited to see perform on the WBBL stage is our resident South African, Marizanne Kapp. With one of the strongest arms I have seen in the women’s game, she has power that translates to both her batting and bowling, so look out.
A player that has been around the NSW Breakers set up for a very long time and I believe a key to their success, is Sarah Aley. Aley, the ever-reliable medium pace bowler and hands like a baseball mitt (will catch anything), possesses strength that can clear the boundary easily. Therefore this WBBL might be her chance to shine and be recognised for what she brings to the team.