Kristen Beams picks her WBBL Young Gun XI
Former Australia and Melbourne Stars spinner picks an XI of the best WBBL players under the age of 21
The countdown is on! With only a few days until WBBL|06 kicks off, we have limited time to discuss how all the players each team will fare, so let’s get as much in as we can before we start talking wins, losses and stats.
When I think about how successful the Australian women’s team has been, I reflect on how many of those players got their start in the WBBL. When the competition began, we went from six WNCL teams to eight franchises, giving more young talent their chance to show off their skills.
And over the evolution of the tournament, we’ve seen plenty of player movement, which has established an even competition and plenty of conjecture about who might win each season.
The final ingredient to that success has been overseas talent. Some would argue that the WBBL has made other countries stronger, with their best players developing through the WBBL, and I wholeheartedly agree. But what it has also done is raise the bar for our Australian team, who are even stronger. And with a steady stream of talent coming in, the possibilities are endless.
So, let’s talk about our WBBL young talent. A few listed below are already international cricketers and some of these players could be our future Australian stars.
I’ve put together my Young Gun XI; these players are all under 21 years of age and I think this team would be pretty successful if they got the chance to play together.
There are so many talented players who missed out on this Young Gun XI, so much so I wanted to make it a team of 12, then a squad of 15 and then 21 players under 21. But I’m up for a challenge, and I hope the fans find it just as hard to pick just 11 players!
1) Josie Dooley (Renegades)
Dooley moved from the Heat to the Renegades, which proved a great move as she took the gloves for the Melbourne club. An attacking batter who has established herself a key player after making her maiden fifty against her old team. With Jess Duffin missing from the Renegades line up this season, her contribution will be important for the Renegades.
2) Annabel Sutherland (Stars)
Sutherland is the youngest player to debut in the WBBL when she suited up for the Renegades at just 15 years of age. She moved to cross-town rivals the Stars and had instant success with her pace and bounce. Over the past 12 months, her rise included an Australian debut and she’s a genuine allrounder for the Stars, complementing the likes of Meg Lanning, Mignon Du Preez, Elyse Villani and Nat Sciver.
3) Phoebe Litchfield (Thunder)
Having debuted as a 16-year-old in her first season at the Thunder, Litchfield went on to score her maiden fifty in the same year. The dynamic left-hander looked at home in the middle order of the Thunder and made some key contributions. With another pre-season under her belt, she is one to watch.
4) Amelia Kerr (Heat)
Kerr is the most experienced of all the young guns as she has already played 70 international matches. The 20-year-old New Zealander is the youngest player, male or female, to make a double century after she made 232 not out against Ireland at 17 years of age. We know how dangerous she is with the ball; the leg-spinner gets good turn and her wrong ‘un is a big weapon. But her batting is much improved and she will be an important allrounder for the Heat.
5) Hannah Darlington (Thunder)
Darlington was the Thunder’s leading wicket-taker in WBBL|05, taking 16 wickets with best figures of 3-29. She will play a bigger role with the ball in WBBL|06 following the retirement of Rene Farrell and I’m tipping her to develop into a genuine allrounder for the Thunder with the ability to hit a long ball.
6) Nicole Faltum (Stars) (wk)
The Stars keeper goes under the radar, but shows great leadership and is a potential future captain. The young keeper runs their fielding effort and has fast hands with 10 stumpings and five catches already in her WBBL career. She will also be pushing for a spot higher up in the batting order with Stars this season.
7) Amy Smith (Hurricanes)
First time signing for the Hobart Hurricanes, but not new to domestic cricket. She debuted for Tasmania as a 14-year-old and looked at home at that level. The leg-spinning allrounder could have a big impact for the Canes this season.
8) Nadine de Klerk (Heat)
Made her T20 debut in 2018, but she captured our attention during the T20 Women’s World Cup in 2020 with her 3-19 against Australia. The pace bowler joins the Heat in WBBL|06 and will be an important player following Sammy Jo Johnson’s move to the Thunder.
9) Hayley Silver-Holmes (Sixers)
A 17-year-old with 28 WBBL games under her belt already, the medium pacer is surrounded by incredible role models in Marizanne Kapp and Ellyse Perry and she’s going to develop into a key player. With nine career wickets, I’m tipping she will double that number this season.
10) Darcie Brown (Strikers)
Darcie Brown is one of the most promising quicks in the country and the youngest player the Adelaide Strikers have ever signed at 16 years of age. She was only 15 years old when she was selected in the Australian U19 Team and is one to watch this season.
11) Stella Campbell (Sixers)
Tipped to be quicker in WBBL|06, Campbell was one of the most improved players last season she has me pretty excited about what she can do this time around. The tall quick hits high on the bat and is very difficult to get away.
Bring on Game 1!