Thunder sign uncapped English quick for WBBL|07
Issy Wong is considered one of English cricket's most exciting young players, now she is headed for the WBBL defending champions
5 October 2021, 06:00 AM AEST
Cancelling planned trips to Porto and Sicily was a 'no-brainer' for Issy Wong when an unexpected call-up to the Weber WBBL came late last month.
The 19-year-old quick has joined reigning champions Sydney Thunder, filling their sole remaining overseas slot.
The uncapped right-arm quick, who is considered one of England's brightest – and fastest – prospects, comes into the squad to replace South Africa speedster Shabnim Ismail, who withdrew from WBBL|07 after injuring her knee during the Proteas' tour of the Caribbean last month.
Wong had been set to travel to the Portuguese city of Porto with her mother to watch Liverpool play in the Champions League – enjoying a well-deserved break after a busy domestic summer in the UK – when the call came from the Thunder's English coach Trevor Griffin.
"He said, 'Hi, Ismail's pulled out and we would love you to come over' … it was a bit of a no brainer to be honest," Wong told cricket.com.au from hotel quarantine in Adelaide.
"I didn't have long to make my mind up but it didn't really matter because it's such a good opportunity, just pack your bags and off you go."
Wong has kept a close eye on the WBBL since its inaugural season and paid particularly close attention to the Thunder's triumphant campaign last summer thanks to English internationals Tammy Beaumont and Heather Knight.
The chance to appear in an overseas T20 competition was a major drawcard for Wong, as was the chance to work with English coach Trevor Griffin.
Not to mention the chance to play in Australia conditions; with an Ashes and England A tour early next year, the teenager stands a strong chance of featuring in one of those England squads.
"It's a bit surreal to be honest, (the WBBL) is something I've looked at as a young girl and it was the first of its kind in terms of franchise leagues in the women's game.
"To have watched that growing up and aspiring to play in it, it all feels like a dream at the moment.
"Trevor is one of those coaches who's won a lot of competitions and is a really good coach, from what I've seen so far. I'm looking forward to hopefully being able to have a good relationship with him and learn off him about creating successful cultures, because he's been part of so many winning sides."
The Thunder will field an entirely new international trio this season, having signed India pair Smriti Mandhana and Deepti Sharma to replace England pair Knight and Beaumont.
"What I like about (Issy) is apart from the fact she wants to bowl fast; she always wants to make an impact on the game," Griffin said.
"That means she wants the ball, she can bowl at the different phases of the game, whether that's the power play, the middle phase, or at the death. She can also come into bat and hit a long ball if that's needed as well."
The Thunder now have just one local spot left to fill on their 15-player list.
While the overseas contingent is new, the local core of the Thunder remains strong – something that could be crucial for the club in its title defence, with captain Rachael Haynes to miss at least part of the season following the birth of her first child with partner Leah.
Haynes returned to Sydney last week after suffering a hamstring injury that ruled her out of the one-off Test against India, with disappointment rapidly turning to delight when son Hugo arrived a couple of weeks early.
Corinne Hall comes in to bolster the middle order, while Rachel Trenaman has departed for Hobart.
WBBL|07 squad so far: Rachael Haynes* (c), Sam Bates, Hannah Darlington, Corinne Hall, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Anika Learoyd, Phoebe Litchfield, Smriti Mandhana (Ind), Kate Peterson, Olivia Porter, Deepti Sharma (Ind), Lauren Smith, Tahlia Wilson, Issy Wong (Eng)
In: Corinne Hall (Hurricanes), Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma, Issy Wong
Out: Rachael Trenaman (Hurricanes), Tammy Beaumont, Heather Knight, Shabnim Ismail
WBBL|06 players off contract: Saskia Horley