Hurricanes restart overseas search after Lee pulls out

South African's withdrawal puts Hobart back in hunt for an overseas signing three weeks out from start of WBBL|07

Hobart Hurricanes have gone back to the drawing board to secure a third overseas player for the upcoming Weber WBBL season, after hard-hitting South Africa opener Lizelle Lee withdrew from the tournament.

Lee, who played for the Melbourne Renegades in WBBL|06, had yet to be publicly announced by the club, but coach Salliann Beams confirmed this week the 29-year-old had been set to move to Hobart before ultimately electing to take a break after an extended period on the road.

"It is a good team, we’ve recruited a few players, but we’ve recently lost Lizelle Lee, she was our third overseas signing who unfortunately won’t be coming now, so we’re looking for another overseas signing," Beams said as the club confirmed local Sasha Moloney had re-signed for another season.

"With so much cricket, she would like a break.

"We can have empathy and relate to that with the amount of cricket she’s played and the quarantines she’s had to do … it’s part and parcel of cricket these days."

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Lee featured in The Hundred in July-August before flying directly in the Caribbean to join her South Africa teammates for a limited-overs tour against West Indies that ended earlier this week.

The right-hander had departed South Africa at the start of July, alongside Marizanne Kapp, Dane van Niekerk, Mignon du Preez, Laura Wolvaardt, Shambim Ismail, Nadine de Klerk and Chloe Tryon, with the group spending 10 days in Croatia before flying to the United Kingdom for 100-ball tournament.

South Africa’s ongoing presence on the UK’s list of ‘red zone’ countries had necessitated the stopover in a country that would then allow them freer onward travel to England.

Had Lee taken up her contract with the Hurricanes in WBBL|07, she would not have returned home until the end of November.

Other South Africa players contracted to WBBL teams remain set to appear in the tournament; a contingent of players including Kapp (Scorchers), Wolvaardt (Strikers) and de Klerk (Heat) are currently flying from Antigua to Adelaide via London and Doha, where they will undergo a fortnight in hotel quarantine before travelling to Hobart for the start of the season.

Heat recruit Anneke Bosch, who was not on the West Indies tour, is already in quarantine in Australia, while another Hobart recruit, Mignon du Preez, has returned to South Africa but is still expected to travel for the WBBL.

The Hurricanes will need to act quickly to secure a replacement international, with the tournament to start in Hobart on October 14. They currently have signed du Preez, who moved across from the Stars, and New Zealand’s Rachel Priest, who lives in Hobart.

England players could come into the equation after their October tour of Pakistan was cancelled earlier this week, or the Hurricanes could target a member of the Indian squad currently touring Australia, although at least seven are believed to already have signed with various clubs.

New Zealand also have no international engagements following the conclusion of their ongoing tour of England, with Sophie Devine the only Kiwi – aside from Priest who has retired from international cricket - currently signed. Star leg-spinner Amelia Kerr was due to appear for the Heat but withdrew to focus on her mental health.

Molly Strano (Renegades) and Rachel Trenaman (Thunder) are Hobart’s other key recruits for WBBL|07, with Beams blunt when asked her goals for the upcoming season, after finishing on the bottom of the table last summer.

"Finals," she said. "We are recruiting to make sure we’ve got a well-balanced team, we’ve got a different calibre of team that can fill each role we’re looking for.

"We’re excited. We’ve got players coming back from injury including Maisy Gibson and Tayla Vlaeminck, so we’ve got some force with the ball… making finals is it for us this year."

Hobart Hurricanes WBBL|07 squad so far: Nicola Carey, Mignon du Preez (SA), Maisy Gibson, Rachel Priest (NZ), Chloe Rafferty, Amy Smith, Naomi Stalenberg, Molly Strano, Rachel Trenaman, Belinda Vakarewa, Tayla Vlaeminck.