WBBL preview: Bates calls on batters to step up
No Sophie Devine, but Strikers captain Suzie Bates believes Tahlia McGrath will embrace increased responsibility
17 October 2020, 10:22 AM AEST
Adelaide Strikers captain Suzie Bates is tipping Australia allrounder Tahlia McGrath to seize her opportunity in the top order with both hands this Rebel WBBL season.
The pressure is on the Strikers’ batters to stand up in WBBL|06 following star allrounder Sophie Devine’s defection to the Perth Scorchers, which has left a hole at the top.
McGrath made her return to the Australian squad for the recent trans-Tasman limited-over series in Brisbane and while she had limited opportunity, she made the most of her recall in the final ODI, smacking 29 not out from 11 deliveries.
"I did say to (Australia assistant coach) Shelley Nitsche that the only person I didn’t mind scoring runs that day was Tahlia," Bates told cricket.com.au from Adelaide, where she is preparing for the season with her Strikers teammates.
"It was good to see her have a crack in that Aussie team and whack a few, that’ll give her confidence coming into this season.
"It is a massive loss to not have Sophie here, but she was so good for us last year and we knew she was potentially going to move to Perth.
"I think (her departure) provides a really good opportunity for Tahlia, who I think is ready to embrace her spot at the top of the order."
Last season, Devine struck 769 runs and collected 17 wickets as player of the tournament, as Adelaide finished runners-up to two-time champions Brisbane Heat.
Their next most prolific run scorers were McGrath (327 runs) and Bates (325), followed by local middle-order batter Bridget Patterson (319).
"Because Sophie had such a good season last season and carried us with the bat, we’re really determined to stand up with the bat as a group and show we don’t just need Sophie, we can also do well," Bates said.
"We know our bowling and fielding is really good, but we all need to step up with the bat."
While there is no replacing Devine, currently the world’s best allrounder in the shortest format of the game, Adelaide have picked up a rising star in South Africa batter Laura Wolvaardt.
The 21-year-old failed to fire in her most recent foray in the Big Bash, averaging less than 10 for the Heat in WBBL|04, but has since taken enormous strides in her T20 game.
Bates was in the crowd at the SCG during the T20 World Cup semi-final in early March when Wolvaardt hammered 41 not out from 27 deliveries as South Africa fell just five runs shy of defeating eventual champions Australia.
"I thought (that innings) was really impressive and I’ve seen a lot of her playing against New Zealand," Bates said of Wolvaardt.
"She looks like she’s got all the attributes that make a top-quality batter.
"(Strikers assistant coach) Jude Colman had some involvement with her at the Heat and knew what she was like as a person as well, and that’s really important for this group.
"It’s not just what you bring on the field but what you bring off the field … they did a lot of research around her and it sounds like she’ll fit in perfectly."
Devine’s departure, and the fact Bates is currently recovering from a shoulder injury sustained during the Rose Bowl ODIs earlier this month that is likely to see her initially play as a batter alone, has also provided a chance for a local seamer to step up.
The Strikers captain is tipping 17-year-old Darcie Brown, one of the country’s quickest young bowlers, to make her Big Bash debut this season.
"(Jude’s) really excited about Darcie, she’s got in my ear about how far she’s come," Bates said.
"Even last year she was bowling quick and she’s brilliant in the field which also helps.
"She is definitely being talked about (as someone who will) push for a place in that starting XI, especially with Sophie and her bowing gone, and with me potentially being a bit slow at getting my bowling back."
WBBL|06 will be played entirely in a Sydney hub, with games across five venues and all eight teams housed in a ‘WBBL Village’ at Sydney Olympic Park.
Restrictions on movement outside of the hub are set to test players in a way they have never experienced before, and Bates said it was something the club was proactively addressing ahead of their departure from Adelaide.
"(Coach) Luke Williams spoke to us and he thinks it will be the team that can be the most adaptable and go with the flow, and not get too caught up in things not going how we’re used to, that will have the most success," Bates said.
"We’re lucky we do have a group that knows each other really well and gets on really well, so we’ve talked about looking out for each other during the hub and check in on each other, staying really positive and just trying to enjoy the unique experience."
Squad: Suzie Bates (c) (NZ), Megan Schutt (Aus),Tahlia McGrath (Aus), Stafanie Taylor (WI), Laura Wolvaardt (SA), Darcie Brown, Sarah Coyte, Ellen Falconer, Katie Mack, Tegan McPharlin, Annie O'Neil, Bridget Patterson, Maddy Penna, Alex Price, Amanda-Jade Wellington
Ins: Laura Wolvaardt, Maddy Penna (Stars)
Outs: Sophie Devine (Scorchers), Tabatha Saville, Lauren Winfield (Eng, replacement player)
Possible best XI: Suzie Bates (c), Tahlia McGrath, Stafanie Taylor, Laura Wolvaardt, Bridget Patterson, Katie Mack, Amanda-Jade Wellington, Tegan McPharlin (wk), Sarah Coyte, Megan Schutt, Maddy Penna
Last season’s result: Runners-up
The inside word with Kristen Beams on The Scoop podcast
"The Strikers need some more people to stand up and fill the void, and make sure they’re not reliant on one player. Someone is still going to have to have an outstanding year, and I hope that it’s Suzie Bates and she can step up into that role, but they’re going to have to try and cover what they’re lost."
October 25: v Hurricanes, Hurstville Oval
October 26: v Sixers, North Sydney Oval
October 31: v Thunder, Showground Stadium
November 1: v Scorchers, Drummoyne Oval
November 3: v Stars, Blacktown International Sports Park
November 7: v Heat, North Sydney Oval
November 8: v Renegades, North Sydney Oval
November 10: v Stars, Blacktown International Sports Park
November 14: v Heat, Drummoyne Oval
November 15: v Sixers, Drummoyne Oval
November 17: v Hurricanes, Hurstville Oval
November 18: v Renegades, Blacktown International Sports Park
November 21: v Thunder, Drummoyne Oval
November 22: v Scorchers, North Sydney Oval