Revealed: WBBL team of the tournament
Renegade Duffin leads a star-studded line-up after much debate from selection panel following a sensational regular season
Laura Jolly is a Melbourne-based journalist for cricket.com.au. She previously wrote for News Corp Australia and the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.
The first official Rebel WBBL Team of the Tournament has been revealed ahead of the upcoming Finals Weekend in Brisbane.
The WBBL|05 Player of the Tournament has also been announced, with Strikers star Sophie Devine taking out the honours after a remarkable campaign that saw her score 699 runs at 77.66 and take 16 wickets at 20.25.
Votes are awarded on a 3-2-1 basis by each standing umpire at the end of each match, meaning a player can receive up to six votes per match.
Captained by Melbourne Renegades leader Jess Duffin, the Team of the Tournament features players from six of the eight clubs and, in keeping with WBBL playing conditions, a limit of three overseas players has been imposed.
WBBL Finals: Allan Border Field
First semi-final: Strikers v Scorchers, Saturday 10.10am (11.10am AEDT)
Second semi-final: Heat v Renegades, Saturday 1.50pm (2.50pm AEDT)
Final: SF1 v SF2, Sunday 1.40pm (2.40pm AEDT)
Tune in to the WBBL finals on the Seven Network, Fox Cricket, Kayo, the CA Live app or listen on ABC radio
Aiming for a realistic mix of batters and bowlers, the seven-person selection panel nailed down the best XI of WBBL|05 on Monday following intense debate through the business end of the season.
Tough calls had to be made, while players were rewarded for various factors including wickets in the Power Play, economy rates, strike rates and contributions towards victories.
Joining cricket.com.au journalist Laura Jolly on the panel was Head of Big Bash Leagues Alistair Dobson, Australia women's team head coach Matthew Mott, former Australian captain Belinda Clark, former Australia players Lisa Sthalekar (Seven Network) and Mel Jones (Fox Cricket) and ABC commentator Alister Nicholson.
The captain of the team was a major point of discussion, with panelists split between Renegades leader Jess Duffin and Scorchers skipper Meg Lanning.
Ultimately, Duffin got the nod for leading from the front with the bat and mentoring young players including Courtney Webb and Josie Dooley under pressure during tricky chases.
The Team of the Tournament is coached by Brisbane Heat mentor Ashley Noffke, who took over the side this season.
He won a close contest after each WBBL coach voted for a counterpart - and they could not vote for themselves - who they felt had guided their team best this season.
Each member of the Team of the Tournament will receive a trophy acknowledging their selection.
WBBL|05 Team of the Tournament
Sophie Devine (Adelaide Strikers) (overseas player)
M: 14 | Inns: 14 | Runs: 699 | Ave: 77.66 | SR: 130.16 | HS: 88 | 100s: 0 | 50s: 8
Wkts: 16 | Ave: 20.25 | Econ: 6.35 | BBI: 3-13 | SR: 19.1 | 4wi: 0
Sometimes, players just select themselves – and Sophie Devine is one of those. She topped the runs tally for the regular season – and hit 28 sixes, nine more than her nearest competitor – in what was her best Big Bash season with the bat yet. The pace bowler also did damage with ball in hand, forming a potent attack with Megan Schutt and collecting 16 wickets along the way, needing just two more wickets to claim her best WBBL haul to date. And as if you needed any other reason to rate this New Zealand superstar, she’s also been raising money for charity with her Zinc Challenge.
Beth Mooney (Brisbane Heat) (wk)
M: 14 | Inns: 14 | Runs: 672 | Ave: 74.66 | SR: 126.5 | HS: 86 | 100s: 0 | 50s: 8 | Ct: 6 | St: 2
Like Devine, you would be hard pressed to find someone making an argument against including Beth Mooney in this team. The Brisbane Heat opener has been incredibly consistent this season, hitting eight half-centuries from 14 innings and breathing down Devine's neck on the runs table. What did cause more discussion was the decision to hand her wicketkeeping duties. She has taken fewer dismissals than Rachel Priest (12), Alyssa Healy (10), Josie Dooley (9) and Tegan McPharlin (9), but what she brings as a 'keeper-bat package earns her this spot. Healy's runs came at an incredible strike rate of 155.69, but averaging 29.46 and scoring one century and one half-century during a campaign that saw her team miss finals wasn't enough to get her over the line.
Danni Wyatt (Melbourne Renegades) (overseas player)
M: 14 | Inns: 14 | Runs: 468 | Ave: 39 | SR: 131.83 | HS: 87 | 100s: 0 | 50s: 4
The big-hitting Englishwoman has narrowly pipped another import – Stars and South African opener Lizelle Lee – for this spot in the best XI. Both had similar numbers, and Lee did score a century, but Wyatt was favoured by the selection panel for the impact her performances had on the Renegades making the top four. This was perfectly illustrated in her outstanding 87 against the Heat at AB Field last week, which set the scene for an upset win. She sits above Lanning in this batting order based on her superior strike-rate.
Meg Lanning (Perth Scorchers)
M: 14 | Runs: 530 | Ave: 44.16 | SR: 119.36 | HS: 101 | 100s: 1 | 50s: 4
The Australian captain had a shaky start to the season and looked scratchy at various times but as ever, her class rose to the top. The Scorchers captain finished third on the runs tally, ending the home-and-away season in style with her first WBBL century, sitting alongside the four fifties she scored earlier in the tournament. After some robust discussion, it was decided the captaincy of this side would go to Duffin, but Lanning must be acknowledged for helping steer her team into the finals despite boasting one of the competition's least-heralded bowling attacks. Lanning opens for the Scorchers but sits slightly lower in this order, given the striking power of Devine, Mooney and Wyatt.
Ellyse Perry (Sydney Sixers)
M: 9 | Runs: 469 | Ave: 93.80 | SR: 112.47 | HS: 87* | 100s: 0 | 50s: 4
Wkts: 4 | Ave: 36.25 | Econ: 5.8 | BBI: 2-13 | SR: 37.5 | 4wi: 0
It speaks volumes of Perry's campaign that she was impossible to leave out despite missing her team's final five matches due to a shoulder injury. The allrounder's average across those nine games was, frankly, outrageous and while she did not have the wicket-taking impact she may have liked, her economy rate was second only to Megan Schutt. Of the nine games she did play, she earned player-of-the-match honours on three occasions – a decent strike-rate considering the star-studded Sixers line-up!
Jess Duffin (Melbourne Renegades) (c)
M: 13 | Runs: 500 | Ave: 71.42 | SR: 140.05 | HS: 76* | 100s: 0 | 50s: 5
Jess Duffin has undoubtedly been one of the stories of this Big Bash. The former Australian batter turned cross-code athlete, Duffin received the Renegades captaincy – albeit reluctantly – this season and the extra responsibility appears to have brought out the best in the 30-year-old. She steered the Renegades home in difficult chases against the Heat, Stars and Hurricanes and after early wickets in their must-win clash against the Thunder to reach the semi-finals, she struck her fifth half-century of the season. She batted at either No.4 or 5 for the Renegades, but slots in just slightly lower here given the top-order firepower.
Jess Jonassen (Brisbane Heat)
M: 14 | Runs: 348 | Ave: 38.66 | SR: 131.81 | HS: 88 |100s: 0 | 50s: 2
Wkts: 19 | Ave: 18.31 | Econ: 6.82 | BBI: 4-13 | SR: 16.1 | 4wi: 3
Left-arm spinner Jonassen has enjoyed her best Big Bash yet with bat and ball. Perhaps surprisingly, given her outstanding record at international level, Jonassen's previous best season with the ball saw her reap 17 wickets. She's also taken her batting to another level, far exceeding the 282 at 28.2 she struck in WBBL|01. Given more responsibility with the bat than in previous years, Jonassen embraced a move up the order and while her position here is more in keeping with the spot she occupies in the Australian batting order, her claims on the best XI of WBBL|05 are hard to deny.
Marizanne Kapp (Sydney Sixers) (overseas player)
M: 14 | Wkts: 15 | Ave: 20.2 | Econ: 6.01 | BBI: 3-16 | SR: 20.1 | 4wi: 0
The final pace-bowling position prompted plenty of debate and there were a few contenders including Brisbane's Sammy-Jo Johnson and Delissa Kimmince, and Adelaide Striker Sarah Coyte. With similar numbers between Kapp and Johnson and a similar knack for picking up big wickets in the Power Play, the fiery South African ultimately won out for her added abilities with the bat, after scoring two half-centuries during the campaign.
Molly Strano (Melbourne Renegades)
M: 14 | Wkts: 20 | Ave: 18.9 | Econ: 7.43 | BBI: 3-19 | SR: 15.2 | 4wi: 0
The Renegades off-spinner has been clutch for her team this season, both in the Power Play and at the death. She hasn't always come off – the demons of her final over being taken for 17 runs by Meg Lanning at the WACA will remain – but for a player consistently challenged by her captain Duffin to bowl at the most testing moments, she has come away with the goods more often than not. Case in point was her performance in the must-win match against the Thunder at Junction Oval on Sunday when she removed key bat Rachel Priest inside the first six overs before collecting the scalps of Rachael Haynes and Naomi Stalenberg.
Megan Schutt (Adelaide Strikers)
M: 14 | Wkts: 13 | Ave: 24 | Econ: 5.67 | BBI: 2-12 | SR: 25.3 | 4wi: 0
Sure, Schutt is not at the top of the wickets table, but there is no doubting the impact she's made with ball in hand for the Strikers. For a pace bowler who is handed the ball in the Power Play every game without fail, walking away with the best economy rate in the league is no small feat. If she was not collecting wickets herself, there's no question her teammates – see Devine – were taking them at the other end.
Belinda Vakarewa (Hobart Hurricanes)
M: 13 | Wkts: 20 | Ave: 15.8 | Econ: 6.09 | BBI: 4-19 | SR: 15.5 | 4wi: 1
Vakarewa's move from the Thunder to the Hurricanes has proved a masterstroke both for the young quick and Hobart. She tops the wickets table at the end of the regular season and earned herself a place in the Australia A squad to boot. Vakarewa moved south seeking greater opportunities and has not only received those, but paid back the faith shown in her by coach Salliann Briggs in spades, bowling superbly in the Power Play and collecting key wickets.