Player movements during the off-season have set the scene for an intriguing battle in this year’s Women's National Cricket League.
The Lend Lease NSW Breakers will enter the 2015-16 season on a 10-year championship streak, but a busy recruitment period has seen a host of players including high-profile Southern Stars find new homes, spreading the international firepower more evenly among the WNCL’s seven teams.
The competition has again attracted some of the world’s best players, including England stars Sarah Taylor, Danni Wyatt and Laura Marsh, and New Zealand’s Hayley Jensen and Sophie Devine.
The WNCL 50-over season will run from October 9 to November 28, before the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League season begins on December 5.
The ACT landed a major name with the signing of Southern Stars spinner Erin Osborne (above) from NSW, while New Zealand internationals Sara McGlashan and Lea Tahuhu will also be Meteors this season.
Top-order batter McGlashan is returning for her second year with the Meteors, while 24-year-old fast bowler Tahuhu will make her first appearance for the ACT.
Tahuhu, who is fast earning a reputation as one of the White Ferns' most dangerous bowlers, will be an ideal addition after Southern Stars quick Rene Farrell moved to the NSW Breakers.
“It’s outstanding to have Sara return for the forthcoming season,” ACT Meteors Coach Andrew Dawson said.
“Outside of being a world-class player, she also provides a wealth of experience and strong values to the squad, allowing her to play a key mentor role with younger players.”
“Lea is an emerging international fast bowler for the White Ferns and will be a superb addition to the fast bowling unit.”
The Meteors have also signed former Australian under-19 allrounder Nicole Goodwin, who returns to the WNCL after a three-year hiatus, and former NSW allrounder Claire Koski.
In: Nicole Goodwin, Claire Koski (NSW), Erin Osborne (NSW), Angela Reakes (NSW), Lea Tahuhu (New Zealand)
Out: Rene Farrell (NSW)
Retained: Kris Britt (c), Lily Bardsley, Sam Bates, Kira Churchland, Jodie Hicks, Sara Hungerford, Katie Mack, Rebecca Maher, Sara McGlashan, Jenny Taffs
The Lend Lease Breakers have bolstered their bowling stocks with Ashes combatants Rene Farrell and Laura Marsh (above).
Fast bowler Farrell, who played a key role in helping the Southern Stars regain the Women’s Ashes, joins NSW from the ACT and will strengthen NSW’s pace stocks after fellow Southern Star Sarah Coyte moved to South Australia.
England off-spinner Marsh will head down under for the 2015-16 WNCL season and will be an ideal replacement for Southern Stars' tweaker Erin Osborne, who has moved to the Meteors.
The Breakers will head into the season without former Southern Stars batter Leah Poulton, who has retired, while Angela Reakes and Kara Sutherland have also moved interstate.
Breakers coach Jo Broadbent said the squad changes would give opportunities to other players to break into the Breakers’ star-studded line-up, which boasts Southern Stars Ellyse Perry, Allysa Healy and Alex Blackwell.
“I think there’s some players who have come out of the under-18s who haven’t had the chance to play in the Breakers environment, I’m looking forward to what they might bring,” said Broadbent.
In: Rene Farrell (ACT), Laura Marsh (England), Maisy Gibson (NSW Development squad)
Out: Sarah Coyte (SA), Erin Osborne (ACT), Leah Poulton (retired), Kara Sutherland (Queensland), Angela Reakes (ACT)
Retained: Alex Blackwell (c), Sarah Aley, Nicola Carey, Lauren Cheatle, Stefanie Daffara, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Ellyse Perry, Georgia Redmayne, Lauren Smith, Naomi Stalenberg
The Konica Minolta Queensland Fire will be without captain Jodie Fields for the start of the WNCL season, with Delissa Kimmince to fill in until the veteran returns from shoulder surgery.
The Fire’s ranks will be boosted by the addition of left-arm fast-bowler Kara Sutherland (above), who has moved from NSW.
Sutherland is originally from Grafton in northern NSW, and was a Commonwealth Bank Shooting Stars Under-23 squad representative last season.
The 23-year-old, who played for Kent in England county cricket during the winter, started training with the Fire last week and will be keen to push for a spot in the opening round of the WNCL on October 9
In: Kara Sutherland (NSW)
Retained: Jodie Fields (capt), Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Beth Mooney, Holly Ferling, Grace Harris, Jemma Barsby, Courtney Hill, Kirby Short, Haidee Birkett, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Georgia Prestwidge, Taylah Brotherston, Kelsie Minty
The Breezair SA Scorpions have made two changes to their side for the 2015-16 season, signing former NSW Breakers and current Southern Star Sarah Coyte (above) and Kensington all-rounder Sarah Lowe.
Coyte, 24, had spent the last five seasons with the NSW Breakers, claiming as many titles in that time, while Lowe earned a contract after an impressive grade cricket season in 2014-15.
Scorpions coach Andrea McCauley said Coyte’s addition would strengthen the middle-order and add depth to the bowling group.
Scorpions stalwart Lauren Ebsary will again lead the side and will be aided by the promotion of wicketkeeper Tegan McPharlin to vice-captain, while England’s Sarah Taylor and New Zealand’s Sophie Devine will also return.
“Tegan has emerged as a terrific leader, showing real fight with the bat when we needed it last season,” McCauley said.
In: Sarah Coyte (NSW), Sarah Lowe
Retained: Lauren Ebsary (capt), Sam Betts, Sophie Devine, , Tahlia McGrath, Tegan McPharlin, Bridget Patterson, Brittany Perry, Hannah Perry, Katelyn Pope, Alex Price, Megan Schutt, Sarah Taylor, Amanda-Jade Wellington.
The Cripps Tasmanian Roar have added young Tasmanian quick Erin Lawler and experienced national representative Julie Hunter for the upcoming WNCL season.
Right-arm bowler Hunter has moved from VicSpirit to play for the Roar and for the Hobart Hurricanes in the Women’s Big Bash League.
England international Heather Knight has not returned, but will play for the Hurricanes in the WBBL.
Roar coach Julia Price said the squad had a strong mix of youth and experience.
“I think there is still plenty of work to do, but there are exciting times ahead for women’s cricket and we are confident of performing better again this season.
“There is no doubt that Julie Hunter’s experience will be very beneficial to us all.”
In: Julie Hunter (Vic), Erin Lawler
Out: Heather Knight
Retained: Veronica Pyke (capt), Corinne Hall, Erin Burns, Paris Crowe, Linsey Da Costa, Katelyn Fryett, Brooke Hepburn, Sasha Moloney, Meg Phillips, Celeste Raack, Carly Ryan, Emily Smith, Emma Thompson
VicSpirit have added to their international firepower after signing New Zealand allrounder Hayley Jensen and English star Danni Wyatt (above) for 2015-16.
The pair replace Australian quartet Jess Cameron, Julie Hunter, Nicole Bolton and Elyse Villani who have all moved to play interstate.
New VicSpirit coach David Hemp said Jensen and Wyatt would bring a lot of class to the squad.
"It's great to have another two players with international experience in the team," Hemp said.
"Danni is well known in the squad having played here a few years ago while Hayley impressed in the Premier competition last season.
"Overall there are a lot of opportunities for the squad members this year to step up and take some responsibility."
Jensen, 22, made her international debut last year and has since played four one-day matches and nine Twenty20s for the White Ferns.
Wyatt returns to the Victorian squad after she played the 2011-12 season with the side.
In: Hayley Jensen (New Zealand), Danni Wyatt (England)
Out: Nicole Bolton, Elyse Villani, Jess Cameron (all WA), Julie Hunter (Tas)
Retained: Meg Lanning (capt), Kelly Applebee, Kristen Beams, Briana Binch, Cassie Brock, Sarah Elliott, Nicola Hancock, Kathleen Hempenstall, Emma Inglis, Emma Kearney, Kirsty Lamb, Anna Lanning, Molly Strano
Former state captain Nicole Bolton is returning to Perth to captain the Fury in 2015-16, alongside Southern Stars teammates Elyse Villani and Jess Cameron.
Left-hander Bolton was a shining light for WA in the 2013-14 season and earned a call-up to the Southern Stars in January 2014 when she became the first Australian woman to make an ODI century on debut.
Fellow opener Villani and the big-hitting Jess Cameron will also strengthen the Fury’s batting line-up this season.
"We’ve not previously had someone with an ability to hit a lot of sixes, but Jess is renowned for that,” WACA CEO Christina Matthews said.
New Zealand captain Suzie Bates is unavailable due to international commitments, while England captain Charlotte Edwards has not returned but will play for the Perth Scorchers in the Women’s Big Bash League, and spinner Mel Holmes has retired.
In: Nicole Bolton (capt), Elyse Villani, Jess Cameron (all Vic)
Out: Charlotte Edwards, Suzie Bates
Retained: Megan Banting, Emma Biss, Melissa Cameron, Piepa Cleary, Bhavisha Devchand, Heather Graham, Katie Hartshorn, Emma King, Chloe Piparo, Nicky Shaw, Gemma Triscari, Jenny Wallace