Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars skipper Meg Lanning is tipping a close contest in this year’s Women’s National Cricket League after a slew of player movements.
The Lend Lease NSW Breakers will enter the 2015-16 season on a 10-year championship streak, while Lanning’s own Commonwealth Bank VicSpirit also boast an extremely strong record in the competition, having won two titles and finished runners-up 10 times in the 50-over WNCL's 19-year history.
However, a busy off-season has seen host of players including high-profile Southern Stars find new homes, spreading the international firepower more evenly among the WNCL’s seven teams.
The Breakers have bid farewell to Southern Stars Sarah Coyte and Erin Osborne, while Leah Poulton has retired.
Coyte has joined fellow Stars quick Megan Schutt at the Breezair SA Scorpions, while Osborne will ply her trade for the ACT Meteors.
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VicSpirit trio Nicole Bolton, Elyse Villani and Jess Cameron have all moved west to join the Alcohol. Think Again Western Fury, while Julie Hunter has signed with the Cripps Tasmania Roar.
“Even though Victoria have lost a few very good players, I think overall the competition is going to be a lot more even,” Lanning told cricket.com.au.
“They've gone to the teams that have been in the middle and lower end of the table, so that's great for the competition overall because it means a lot of the games are going to be really competitive, which is great.”
VicSpirit skipper Meg Lanning // Getty Images
But the Breakers and VicSpirit are by no means bereft of international talent and will again be strong contenders for the WNCL title.
NSW have welcomed back Australian fast bowler Rene Farrell from the ACT, and their star-studded line-up possesses the likes of Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy and Alex Blackwell.
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Victoria have the world’s No.1 batter in captain Lanning and fellow Southern Star Kristen Beams, and have added New Zealand’s Hayley Jensen and England’s Danni Wyatt.
After being knocked out in the semi-finals last season, Lanning said she was hopeful VicSpirit could finally snap NSW’s winning streak this summer.
“Hopefully we can challenge New South Wales to break that streak they're on so we'll see what happens.”
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The competition has again attracted some of the world’s best players, including England stars Sarah Taylor, Danni Wyatt and Laura Marsh, and New Zealand’s Suzie Bates and Sophie Devine.
The WNCL 50-over season will run from October 9 to November 28, before the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League season begins on December 5.