WBBL: All you need to know
A team-by-team guide to all the big names and big matches of the first ever women's Big Bash League
Isabelle Westbury is a writer for cricket.com.au. She has worked as a freelance cricket and politics writer for The Telegraph, The Independent, The Age and The Guardian. She is also the captain of Middlesex CCC.
With the pink ball Test now done and dusted, the summer's colourful theme is set to continue with the inaugural women’s Big Bash League, the rebel WBBL|01, kicking off this Saturday.
Here’s a comprehensive low-down on what all the fuss is about and why it’s one to watch in this summer of cricket.
What? It’s been a year of global domination in women’s sport in Australia, and cricket is right at the heart of it
After a victorious Ashes campaign over the winter, which saw the Southern Stars top the ICC’s international rankings across all three formats, attention now turns to the domestic scene with the launch of the first rebel WBBL.
The men’s tournament has proven highly popular over the past four years and it’s time the women got in on the act.
The rebel WBBL, complete with high profile international signings and star Australian players, is a real chance to create an identifiable pathway for budding young female cricketers across the country.
The stars of the WBBL will inspire juniors // Getty Images
Matches will be played throughout Australia at a number of different first-class venues, and will run alongside the men's BBL|05, but with the women’s fixtures more concentrated around the weekends.
It will also feature the same eight teams as the men's competition, with both tournaments culminating in the season finale at the end of January.
Eight WBBL matches will be broadcast live on Channel Ten as double-headers before men’s BBL games.
Where? Everywhere. The 'big six' venues of the WACA, MCG, SCG, Gabba, Adelaide Oval and Hobart’s Blundstone Arena will all feature, alongside various other first-class grounds in states across the country. Full fixture HERE
When? This weekend! Things kick off on Saturday December 5 when the Melbourne Stars, led by Australian captain Meg Lanning, face off against the Brisbane Heat in two back-to-back matches at the Junction Oval in Melbourne.
The first match starts at 10am AEDT and the second one - the marquee game - is at 2:30pm. Entry is free.
Don't miss the Stars v Heat on Saturday // Getty Images
The following day sees the first Sydney derby as the Sydney Sixers take on local rivals Sydney Thunder at the Howell Oval in Penrith.
The tournament will then run throughout December and January with the majority of matches taking place over the weekends.
The first of the eight live televised matches is on Saturday 19th December when Brisbane Heat play the Adelaide Strikers at the Gabba.
Who? The squads are now starting to be finalised, with a few still to name their final couple of signings. Check out a full guide to the WBBL squads HERE.
Adelaide Strikers Australian internationals: Sarah Coyte, Megan Schutt, Shelley Nitschke (former) Overseas internationals: Sophie Devine (New Zealand), Sarah Taylor (England) Shelley Nitschke, Tegan McPharlin, Bridget Patterson
Brisbane Heat Australian internationals: Jessica Jonassen, Grace Harris, Beth Mooney, Holly Ferling, Delissa Kimmince, Jodie Fields (former) Overseas internationals: Kate Cross (England), Lauren Winfield (England) Courtney Hill, Jemma Barsby, Ash Barty, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Kirby Short, Megan White
Hobart Hurricanes Australian internationals: Julie Hunter, Overseas internationals: Heather Knight (England), Hayley Matthews (West Indies), Amy Satterthwaite (New Zealand) Erin Burns, Katelyn Fryett, Veronica Pyke, Brooke Hepburn, Meg Phillips, Sasha Moloney, Emma Thompson, Emily Smith, Celeste Raack, Corinne Hall
Melbourne Renegades Australian internationals: Sarah Elliott (former) Overseas internationals:, Dane Van Niekerk (South Africa), Danielle Wyatt (England), Rachel Priest (New Zealand) Cassie Brock, Nicola Hancock, Molly Strano, Sophie Molineux, Kris Britt, Jenny Taffs, Erica Kershaw, Kirsty Lamb, Briana Binch, Georgia Wareham, Makinley Blows (development rookie)
Melbourne Stars Australian internationals: Meg Lanning, Kristen Beams Overseas internationals: Mignon du Preez (South Africa), Morna Nielsen (New Zealand), Natalie Sciver (England) Kelly Applebee, Lily Bardsley, Kathleen Hempenstall, Emma Inglis, Hayley Jensen, Emma Kearney, Alana King, Anna Lanning, Katie Mack, Gemma Triscari.
Perth Scorchers Australian internationals: Nicole Bolton, Elyse Villani Overseas internationals: Suzie Bates (New Zealand), Katherine Brunt (England), Deandra Dottin (West Indies), Charlotte Edwards (England) Megan Banting, Emma Biss, Piepa Cleary, Heather Graham, Emma King, Chloe Piparo, Nicky Shaw (former England international), Jenny Wallace
Sydney Sixers Australian internationals: Alyssa Healy, Ellyse Perry, Lisa Sthalekar (former) Overseas internationals: Sara McGlashan (New Zealand), Marizanne Kapp (South Africa), Laura Marsh (England) Sarah Aley, Rhiannon Dick, Ashleigh Gardner, Jodie Hicks, Sara Hungerford, Emily Leys, Ange Reakes, Lauren Smith, Kara Sutherland
Sydney Thunder Australian internationals: Alex Blackwell, Rene Farrell, Erin Osborne, Rachel Haynes (former) Overseas internationals: Stafanie Taylor (West Indies) Nicola Carey, Lauren Cheatle, Stefanie Daffara, Mikayla Hinkley, Claire Koski, Naomi Stalenberg, Belinda Vakarewa
Ones to watch Everyone knows that Meg Lanning smashes runs for fun and that Elyse Perry makes even the most accomplished batting line-ups quake in their boots, but here’s a look at a few lesser-known names that may make an impact.
Grace Harris (Brisbane Heat) A big-hitting, no-nonsense cricketer, Harris burst onto the international scene this winter when she was called into the Southern Stars’ T20 squad for the final leg of the Ashes. After an inauspicious debut (a duck and running out Elyse Perry), she won player of the series in the three mini warm-up games against Ireland, biffing 39 not out off 21 balls in the final match. She featured in all three T20s in the Ashes, culminating in a 14-ball knock of 24 in Cardiff, which also featured three crunching sixes.
Molly Strano (Melbourne Renegades) Strano (above right, with Dani Wyatt) ended last year’s state Twenty20 cup as the competition’s highest wicket-taker with 22 at 12.59. The 23-year-old off-spinner, unafraid to flight the ball, was a member of the Shooting Stars squad in 2014/15, but failed to retain her place this season. However a season abroad with English county side Staffordshire saw her hone her skills with both bat and ball during the off season. A stress fracture to the back meant that she played no part in the WNCL, but she’s back fit, fighting and ready to strut her stuff.
Hayley Matthews (Hobart Hurricanes) At just 17 years of age, Matthews is one of the youngest recruits to the WBBL. However she already has a heap of international experience in her short career to date, having featured 15 times for the West Indies in both the one-day and T20 formats since her debut last year. An off-spinning allrounder, she opens the batting for the West Indies and is known to hit a long ball. Be prepared for some fireworks.
Heather Graham (Perth Scorchers) A member of the Shooting Stars squad, the young Western Australian allrounder has the luxury of being in a set-up that includes two international captains and both of Australia’s one-day openers in the line-up. She plied her trade for English county side Essex in last year’s off-season and has a few solid performances in the WNCL to date with both bat and ball. One for the future.
Team to beat? Word on the street is that Perth Scorchers are the ones to watch on paper, with some stellar overseas signings and a batting line-up that’s the envy of the competition.
That said, Western Australia - albeit minus the internationals - didn’t bill up to its hype in the WNCL and what happens in theory doesn’t always happen in practice.
Rachel Priest (left, Renegades) and Suzie Bates (right, Scorchers) have been in brilliant form for NZ // Getty Images
Adelaide Strikers will be looking to feed off their historic table-topping WNCL season with the South Australian Scorpions. Charismatic English wicketkeeper batsman Sarah Taylor is in form, so who knows what this tight-knit unit could achieve.
The traditionally stronger cricketing states of New South Wales and Victoria have seen their cricketing resources filtered into two separate teams, which may weaken their chances of success.
However interstate imports and overseas internationals will bolster these four respective sides, meaning they shouldn’t be ones to write off.
Seemingly lacking strength in depth with the batting, Melbourne Renegades have gone for the tactic of featuring nine spinners in their 14-man squad, which could make things interesting, or at the very least unpredictable.
Just as the WNCL was blown wide-open this year with interstate movements and a reshuffling of the status quo, be prepared for upsets and surprises along the way.
Who are the skippers?
The WBBL will see some new faces step up into leadership roles for the first time, while other franchises will look to experiences leaders in their inaugural seasons.
Adelaide Strikers: Lauren Ebsary
Brisbane Heat: Delissa Kimmince
Hobart Hurricanes: Heather Knight (England)
Melbourne Renegades: Sarah Elliot
Melbourne Stars: Meg Lanning
Perth Scorchers: Nicole Bolton
Sydney Sixers: Ellyse Perry
Sydney Thunder: Alex Blackwell
It goes without saying that the local derbies between Melbourne’s Stars and Renegades and Sydney’s Sixers and Thunder will have emotions running high, with lots of state teammates finding themselves on opposite sides for the first time.
Any match between a New South Wales and Victorian side will also elicit similar feelings as these two states have often found themselves up against each other in finals of seasons past.
The first Sydney Derby will be on Saturday // Getty Images
The Sydney teams too will be wanting to exact revenge on South Australia’s Adelaide Strikers after New South Wales’ record breaking WNCL-winning run was ended by the Scorpions last month.
Add to that anything involving feisty Perth Scorchers’ opener Ellyse Villani and there’s a whole host of must-watch matches on the cards.
Watch 'em all, we say. But with a jam-packed schedule, you might need some good flight deals and time-travelling super-powers, mind.
How can I watch it? Rock up and attend! For those that can’t, Channel Ten have announced that they’ll be broadcasting eight matches live, including the final. The first one on television in on 19th December when the Brisbane Heat take on the Adelaide Strikers.
Otherwise there will be ongoing coverage on bigbash.com.au through social media, with updates and reports featuring regularly on our website.
How can I attend? Entry to the stand-alone women’s matches is free and there’s often lots of exciting things going on the ground as well - perfect for families and budding young cricketers.
The fixtures that are being played back-to-back on the same day - like the season openers between Melbourne Stars and Brisbane Heat this Saturday - are a proper day-out for all involved. Free entry, mascots, prizes and popcorn are all set to be on show at the ground, as well as two cracking games of cricket.
For the double-headers with the men’s matches tickets need to be bought, but it’s two matches for the price of one in world class stadia and a grand occasion.
Fixtures The details of every match can be found here