The Melbourne Renegades will boast a formidable new opening partnership this Rebel WBBL season after luring exciting South Africa opener Lizelle Lee across from the Melbourne Stars.
The Renegades revealed their new gun overseas recruit on Thursday, who is likely to slot in at the top of the order alongside World Cup-winning Australia allrounder and Renegades opener Sophie Molineux, who has committed to a new two-year deal.
Carly Leeson, Courtney Neale and Makinley Blows have also re-signed, while the club is looking to the future with the recruitment of 16-year-old Ella Hayward.
Hayward was a standout performer at last season’s under-18 National Championships, averaging 46.8 with the bat and collecting 17 wickets at 11.73 with her off-spin.
Lee, 28, has two WBBL centuries to her name and hit 475 runs at a strike rate of 131.94 last season.
"I’m thrilled to be heading back to the WBBL and joining a new team will provide some extra motivation," Lee said.
"The Renegades have done well recently and hopefully I can make a positive impact.
"I’ve had the pleasure of playing against a lot of these players in the WBBL and internationally, but it’ll be nice to be on the same team this time."
Molineux, who is potent both with the bat and her left-arm spin, has been a part of the Renegades set-up since WBBL|01, a period that has seen her evolve into a key cog in the Australia’s world champion squad.
Named the Renegades’ best player of WBBL|04, the 22-year-old will hope for better fortunes this summer after an interrupted 12-month period that saw her battle shoulder and quad injuries, while she took a break from the game for the latter part of the last Big Bash season to focus on her mental health.
"Both Molineux and Lee bring great experience from the international stage and we’ve seen what they can produce at WBBL level," new Renegades coach Lachlan Stevens said.
"Sophie has got the skill and talent to impact games with bat and ball and Lizelle can be one of the hardest hitters in the game."
Lee is the first overseas player to sign for the Renegades for WBBL|06.
With Molineux and Australian teammate Georgia Wareham also holding marquee status, the Renegades are left with two international player spots to fill.
New Zealanders Amy Satterthwaite and Lea Tahuhu have been club regulars in recent seasons but have yet to recommit for the upcoming tournament.
Satterthwaite, a former Renegades captain who missed last season while pregnant with her first child with wife Tahuhu, has returned to training in New Zealand after giving birth in January.
English stars Danni Wyatt and Tammy Beaumont (brought in as a replacement player for Satterthwaite) rounded out the overseas contingent in WBBL|05, although opener Lee’s arrival could see Wyatt, who performed that role alongside Molineux last season, headed elsewhere.
The Renegades have now filled 12 spots on their 15-player roster for WBBL|06, with the contracting period running until September 25, ahead of the season start on October 17.
Melbourne Renegades squad: Makinley Blows, Maitlan Brown, Josie Dooley, Jess Duffin, Ella Hayward, Lizelle Lee (SA), Carly Leeson, Sophie Molineux (Aus), Courtney Neale, Molly Strano, Courtney Webb, Georgia Wareham (Aus)