Victoria’s batting stocks for the upcoming summer have received a major boost, with explosive Australia star Elyse Villani returning to the state for the 2018-19 Women’s National Cricket League season.
Victorian native Villani, who played for the state from 2008-2015, has spent the last three seasons in Western Australia with the Western Fury, captaining the team to the WNCL final last summer.
The 28-year-old averaged 260 runs per season with the Fury, including a career-best 362 at 51.71 in 2017-18.
Villani’s inclusion is a welcome addition for Victoria, who won just two of six matches last summer when skipper Meg Lanning was sidelined due to shoulder surgery.
Lanning will also return to lead the navy blue this summer, with Victoria also boasting Australia-contracted allrounder Sophie Molineux in their ranks alongside recent international representatives Kristen Beams and Molly Strano.
They’re joined by a promising crop of young players including Australia Under-19 representatives Georgia Wareham, Annabel Sutherland and Tayla Vlaeminck.
“From my perspective, it’s the right time to come home,” Villani, who is returning home for personal reasons, said.
“It’s a pretty exciting time to get back involved with Victorian cricket and I’m looking forward to what’s ahead.
“I’ve spent some time in the new facilities in St Kilda and I’m really impressed. It’s an amazing set up, and combined with a Victorian squad which has many new and familiar faces, there is a bright future ahead.
“I’d like to thank the WACA and my Fury team mates and support staff for the opportunities they’ve given me to keep growing as a player.
“The last few seasons have been a great change for me – I really enjoyed my time in the West.”
Fury Head Coach Lisa Keightley thanked Villani for her contribution to the state, saying a new Western Australia captain would be announced in due course.
"We want to thank Elyse for her contribution and leadership for the past three seasons.
"She has been an asset to our group and has helped the grow women’s cricket in WA.
"Younger players in the squad have developed and grown with the success we experience last season, and we’re looking forward to seeing who steps up and makes their mark on the upcoming season."
Villani also skippered Perth Scorchers in the Rebel Big Bash last summer, but it has yet to be confirmed where she will play in WBBL|04.
Victoria squad: Meg Lanning (c), Kristen Beams (vc), Makinley Blows, Elly Donald, Nicole Faltum, Emma Inglis, Alana King, Sophie Molineux, Courtney Neale, Rhiann O’Donnell, Chloe Rafferty, Molly Strano, Annabel Sutherland, Elyse Villani, Amy Vine, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham