Renegades lock in India superstar for WBBL|08

Harmanpreet Kaur will return to the Renegades this WBBL season, but a clash of the codes means former Aussie star Jess Duffin will not be available

India captain Harmanpreet Kaur is set to return to the Melbourne Renegades, with last summer’s player of the tournament signing on for WBBL|08.

Kaur, one of the world’s most destructive batters, will reprise the No.4 role she dominated during her first season in red in WBBL|07, which saw her score 406 runs at a strike rate of 130.96, including three half-centuries.

Kaur also picked up 15 wickets with her off-spin to propel the Melbourne club to second spot on the table at the end of the regular season and a subsequent return to the finals.

The 33-year-old’s flair, experience and firepower in the middle-order will be particularly critical, given the Renegades will be without the services of former Australia batter Jess Duffin at No.5 or No.6 this season.

Duffin, who has been juggling Big Bash cricket with her AFLW career, has signed to play for new club Hawthorn this season and while she had previously indicated her desire to continue playing both sports, the AFLW’s move to an August-November window – running parallel with WBBL|08 – means that is no longer a workable option.

Kaur, who was last month named India’s new ODI captain, smashed 18 sixes during her most prolific Big Bash campaign to date, and is the first overseas signing to be confirmed by the club for the upcoming season.

Every six: Harmanpreet clubs 18 sixes in Renegades red

"I’m excited to be coming back to the Renegades," Kaur said.

"I really enjoyed being part of the team environment last season and feel like that helped me produce some of my best cricket.

"Personally, I just wanted to play my role for the team and it was pleasing to be able to do that.

"We supported each other as a team last year and were able to get some good results, but we still have plenty of room to improve. Hopefully we can do that, make the finals again and put ourselves in a position to compete for the title."

Kaur’s leadership experience will also be a vital resource for second-year captain Sophie Molineux, Melbourne Renegades general manager James Rosengarten said.

"Harmanpreet is one of the best players in the world, her record speaks for itself.

"She was outstanding for us last season and was a match-winner on multiple occasions, having a prolific impact across the tournament with both bat and ball.

"As an experienced player, Harmanpreet’s leadership and calm approach under pressure was a huge asset for our team.

"She was a great fit both on and off the field and really bought into our team environment."

The Renegades have nine players currently signed for the upcoming season but will need to source local replacements for Australia contracted pair Tayla Vlaeminck and Georgia Wareham, who will not be available for WBBL|08 as they continue to recover from serious foot and knee injuries respectively.

WBBL matches will return to Victoria this season for the first time since the 2019-20 summer, following two seasons spent entirely interstate due to COVID-19 border restrictions.

The WBBL|08 schedule will be revealed later this week.

Melbourne Renegades WBBL|08 list so far: Sophie Molineux (c), Josie Dooley, Ellen Falconer, Harmanpreet Kaur (India), Carly Leeson, Rhiann O’Donnell, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham, Courtney Webb