Australia’s Ashes hopefuls will be out to impress national selectors when the Women’s National Cricket League season gets underway this weekend.
Seven matches will be played across three days in Sydney, Canberra and Adelaide, kicking off with a Friday triple-header that includes a rematch of last year’s final between New South Wales and Queensland.
The star-studded Lend Lease NSW Breakers squad will be aiming to win their 19th Ruth Preddy Cup from 22 editions of the domestic 50-over competition, but there’s an added motivation for Alex Blackwell’s team this season – and the remainder of the competition – with $258,000 in prizemoney on offer for the WNCL for the first time.
Australia’s squad for the Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes will be named next week and the players who recently took part in a pre-series training camp in Brisbane will be eager to book their spots in the multi-format series against England.
Acting Australia captain Rachael Haynes, vice-captain Alex Blackwell, allrounder Ellyse Perry, wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy and quicks Lauren Cheatle, Sarah Aley and Belinda Vakarewa will be in action for NSW, taking on a Queensland team featuring opener Beth Mooney and allrounder Jess Jonassen on Friday.
On Sunday, NSW will meet Victoria – and Australia spin twins Kristen Beams and Molly Strano – with both Breakers games to be live streamed on cricket.com.au and on the CA Live app.
Allrounder Ashleigh Gardner will make her debut for new state South Australia against Western Australia in Adelaide, joined by Australian teammates Megan Schutt and Amanda-Jade Wellington as they meet a Fury team featuring batters Nicole Bolton and Elyse Villani.
Meanwhile, the country’s rising stars will be vying to win a spot in the Cricket Australia XI which will take on England in two 50-over tour matches in Brisbane.
“We’re looking forward to the women’s domestic season getting underway tomorrow with each of the states naming strong sides that feature a mix of both youth and experience including several international players who with further strengthen what is already a world-class competition,” national selector Shawn Flegler said.
“The WNCL provides the perfect preparation for players who are vying for spots in the upcoming Ashes Series as well as providing a platform for Australia’s best emerging cricketers to continue their development.”
The 2017-18 WNCL season will again be played over three rounds, with a second weekend of matches to be held in late November and a third round, plus the final, to be played in February.