South Australia will head into their National Women’s Cricket League title defence without captain Lauren Ebsary, with the former Australia batter announcing her retirement from state cricket on Tuesday.
It brings to an end a 16-year state career that culminated in the Breezair SA Scorpions’ historic upset win over New South Wales in last year’s WNCL final.
Ebsary, who represented the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars across all three formats between 2009 and 2012, had been Scorpions captain since 2012.
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In more than 100 games for South Australia and Western Australia, the 33-year-old scored 2426 runs and claimed 56 wickets.
The Scorpions have yet to reveal their squad for the upcoming summer, but Ebsary’s retirement will be a blow for the reigning champions, who may also be without experienced England star Sarah Taylor for the 2016 WNCL season, with the wicketkeeper-batter currently taking an extended break from the game as she battles anxiety.
"I’ve had some amazing opportunities through cricket, made great friends, travelled and will have a lifetime of memories," Ebsary said.
"I’m very grateful to the SACA, WACA and Cricket Australia for their support throughout my career."
Scorpions coach Andrea McCauley said Ebsary’s absence would be felt.
"Over the last three years I have really enjoyed working with Lauren as captain and coach," McCauley said.
"While it is disappointing that Lauren will no longer be a part of the Scorpions setup, she should be incredibly proud of her achievements, especially the way she led the girls to their first WNCL title last season."
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It remains to be seen whether Ebsary will continue on with the Adelaide Strikers in the Women’s Big Bash League, where she played alongside retired champion Shelley Nitschke last summer.
Meanwhile, Queensland Fire have named one new player and five rookies in their ranks for the 2016 WNCL season.
Australia Under-18 batter Tess Cooper has earned her first full contract after a successful stint in the Queensland Academy of Sport in 2015-16, while allrounder Abigail Godfrey, wicketkeeper Josie Dooley, Darling Downs duo Maggie Murphy and Ella Whish and former ACT Meteors pace bowler Nina Westenraad have been given rookie contracts.
They join a star-studded Konica Minolta Fire squad that features Southern Stars Jess Jonassen, Holly Ferling, Beth Mooney and Grace Harris.
However the Fire will head into this summer without Ash Barty, who has returned to tennis after making her WNCL and WBBL debuts last summer, and former Australia captain Jodie Fields, who has relocated to Melbourne and will play for the ACT Meteors.
Queensland Fire: Delissa Kimmince (captain), Jemma Barsby, Holly Ferling, Grace Harris, Courtney Hill, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Jessica Jonassen, Bethany Mooney, Kara Sutherland, Kirby Short, Georgia Prestwidge, Haidee Birkett, Taylah Brotherston, Tess Cooper
Queensland Fire rookies: Abigail Godfrey, Josephine Dooley, Maggie Murphy, Nina Westernraad, Ella Whish