Only way is up for Canes after off-season revamp
The return of speedster Tayla Vlaeminck and recruit of spinner Molly Strano adds to a formidable bowling attack as the Hobart Hurricanes seek to end a run of four straight seasons outside the WBBL finals
6 October 2021, 07:37 PM AEST
When Tayla Vlaeminck makes a likely return to Australian colours on Thursday night, there will be one particular group of onlookers in Tasmania glued to their televisions.
The 22-year-old fast bowler missed the entire Big Bash season last summer thanks to a slower-than-expected recovery from a serious foot injury, denying the Hobart Hurricanes attack her skill and raw pace.
But with Vlaeminck steaming in and terrorising her national teammates in the nets in Queensland in recent weeks, she is poised to make a serious impact for the Hurricanes when their Weber WBBL season starts against Melbourne Renegades on October 16.
"It feels like a long time since I've played Big Bash," Vlaeminck told cricket.com.au on Wednesday.
"It's been almost two years, so I'm really excited for it."
Vlaeminck is set to reprise her new-ball role with fellow pace bowler Belinda Vakarewa; the right-armers were a formidable combination in WBBL|05, taking 30 wickets between them.
"That was really fun, she had an unreal season that year as well and I was just lucky enough that she was kind of keeping them tied down at one end and no one seemed to be able to score off her, so that gave me the freedom to be more attacking," Vlaeminck said.
"Hopefully we can (replicate) what we did that year because I think that combination … really allowed me to just run in an attack without having to worry so much about going for runs, which is really cool."
After a fourth consecutive season outside finals, the Hurricanes rung the changes for WBBL|07.
The addition of all-time WBBL leading wicket-taker Molly Strano strengthens an already enviable bowling attack, while star SA batter Mignon du Preez should help address their batting struggles.
The Hurricanes had also lured South Africa opener Lizelle Lee from the Renegades, but after she pulled out to take a break after an extended period on the road, they pounced on aggressive 17-year-old India keeper-bat Richa Ghosh.
Batting allrounder Rachel Trenaman will not be available this season after rupturing her ACL during preseason training, but the bowling attack will be bolstered not only by the return of Vlaeminck, but also leg-spinner Maisy Gibson, who missed last season due to a knee injury.
"It looks like we've done a pretty good job in the offseason, in recruiting some new players and some exciting internationals as well," Vlaeminck said.
"I know everyone probably says this about their team, but I think we can be pretty competitive this year."
WBBL|06 result: Eighth (3 wins, 9 losses, 2 no results)
WBBL|07 squad: Rachel Priest (NZ)Ic), Nicola Carey*, Tayla Vlaeminck*, Mignon du Preez (SA), Richa Ghosh (Ind), Angelina Genford, Maisy Gibson, Ruth Johnston, Sasha Moloney, Chloe Rafferty, Amy Smith, Molly Strano, Naomi Stalenberg, Rachel Trenaman (injured), Belinda Vakarewa
* Australia contracted marquee player
In: Molly Strano (Renegades), Mignon du Preez (Stars), Rachel Trenaman (Thunder), Angelina Genford, Richa Ghosh, Ruth Johnston
Out: Corinne Hall (Thunder), Emma Flint (maternity leave), Chloe Tryon (SA), Brooke Hepburn (retired), Hayley Matthews (WI), Erica Kershaw
Possible best XI: Rachel Priest (wk)(c), Naomi Stalenberg, Mignon du Preez, Nicola Carey, Richa Ghosh, Molly Strano, Maisy Gibson, Belinda Vakarewa, Chloe Rafferty, Tayla Vlaeminck, Amy Smith
Player to watch: Tayla Vlaeminck
X-factor: Molly Strano
The inside word with Mel Jones: "On paper they look very, very good. Mignon du Preez, Molly Strano … they know how to win games and that has been the missing ingredient for the Hobart Hurricanes. Home ground advantage could be the key to success at least at the start of the tournament, with a big chunk of games down on the Apple Isle."
October 16 v Renegades, Blundstone Arena
October 17 v Sixers, Blundstone Arena
October 20 v Stars, Blundstone Arena
October 23 v Strikers, Invermay Park
October 26 v Heat, UTAS Stadium
October 27 v Stars, UTAS Stadium
October 30 v Heat, UTAS Stadium
November 3 v Sixers, WACA Ground
November 6 v Scorchers, WACA Ground
November 7 v Scorchers, WACA Ground
November 13 v Strikers, Great Barrier Reef Arena, Mackay
November 19 v Renegades, Great Barrier Reef Arena, Mackay