WBBL preview: Renegades bank on depth to take final step
The Melbourne Renegades have a few concerns heading into WBBL|06 but their long-term investment and youth could pay off with the depth in their squad
18 October 2020, 01:58 PM AEST
Melbourne Renegades head into the Rebel WBBL|06 season without last summer's leading run scorer and with a major injury cloud hanging over their star quick, but comeback coach Lachlan Stevens hopes his club's depth will come to the fore this season.
After back-to-back semi-final appearances, the Renegades will have a maiden decider in their sights this time around; although the sixth edition of the WBBL has already presented its share of challenges.
The club's Victorian-based players endured a restricted preseason amid the backdrop of 'stage four' lockdown rules in Melbourne, before arriving in Sydney two weeks ahead of the rest of the competition to undertake hotel quarantine alongside their Stars counterparts.
They will be without Jess Duffin this season, with the new mum withdrawing from the tournament after giving birth to daughter Georgie in June, and New Zealand speedster Lea Tahuhu is facing a race against time to recover from a side strain.
However, the Renegades are blessed with depth, with Australia squad members Sophie Molineux, Georgia Wareham, Molly Strano and Maitland Brown in their ranks.
New Zealand star Amy Satterthwaite has also returned from maternity leave to captain the club.
"I'm hoping because they have played a little bit together now as a group, they understand each other and different players can contribute when others don't," Stevens told cricket.com.au.
"That's what the best teams do, on the days when your best players don't make the runs or take the wickets, everyone else can make contributions.
"You don't replace one of the world's best fast bowlers (in Tahuhu), it doesn't work like that, you just adjust your team and try and be different about how you go about playing and setting up.
"A lot of that will fall on Amy's shoulders and I'm sure she'll do a terrific job at managing those 20 overs without Lea."
Stevens has taken the reins from Tim Coyle as head coach this season, resuming the role he held back in the first two seasons of the WBBL.
It means he inherits a squad he played a role in building, and a decision made in those early days to invest in youth has paid off – Molineux, Wareham and Brown were teenagers when Stevens first encountered them, now they are Australian squad members.
"I remember at the end of the first year we made a decision to really try and pack the team with younger athletes wherever we could find them," Stevens explained.
"We decided to take a different tact after a difficult first year, like everyone it was a new tournament and we discovered we were well off the pace.
"We took a brave step in terms of what we wanted to do with the side and that included a young Georgia Wareham and Sophie Molineux.
"Molly Strano had been fantastic in the first year and she stayed, while (former player) Kris Britt introduced us to a kid called Maitlan Brown, who none of us had heard of."
That investment in youth will continue this season through 17-year-old recruit Ella Hayward, an up-and-coming talent spotted by assistant coach Duncan Harrison.
"She's a tremendously skilful off spinner, she's very natural, but she's a little unorthodox in how she delivers the ball and I think that's fantastic," Stevens said.
Another new face coming into the Renegades side is former Hurricanes opener and part-time pace bowler Erin Fazackerly, who turned down a state contract with Tasmania earlier this year to take a break from the game.
Seeking a fresh start, she has found a new home at the Renegades.
"From what I understand, she felt she had more to offer in the game," Stevens said.
"I'm friends with (former Hobart coach) Julia Price and when we had one spot left on our list, she asked me what I thought about Erin coming along, and we thought we could give her an opportunity.
"She's something a little bit different, it was a left-field decision and a last-minute decision, but it was based on my relationship with Pricey and on giving Erin another opportunity at this level."
With a diverse squad that also includes players from the ACT, South Australia and Tasmania, the full Renegades group will be reunited for the first time in the 'WBBL Village' at Sydney Olympic Park on Monday, ahead of their tournament opener on October 25.
It leaves little time to prepare for their first match against cross-town rivals Melbourne Stars, but Stevens is not looking to make excuses.
"It's a different type of year no question, but it's different for everyone," he said.
"I'm just feeling for the players from Melbourne.
It's been a difficult preseason down there as a result of the restrictions and the two weeks here before going into direct competition, but we've very lucky to be paying the competition to be fair, everyone's gone out of their way operationally to make it happen and once the girls get out there I think they'll just be excited to play."
Squad: Sophie Molineux (Aus),Georgia Wareham (Aus), Lizelle Lee (SA), Amy Satterthwaite (NZ), Lea Tahuhu (NZ), Makinley Blows, Maitlan Brown, Josie Dooley, Erin Fazackerley, Ella Hayward, Carly Leeson, Courtney Neale, Molly Strano, Courtney Webb
Ins: Lizelle Lee (Stars), Erin Fazackerley (Hurricanes), Ella Hayward
Outs: Jess Duffin (maternity leave), Tammy Beaumont (Thunder), Danielle Wyatt, Erica Kershaw (Hurricanes), Anna Lanning (injury replacement)
Possible best XI: Sophie Molineux, Lizelle Lee, Amy Satterthwaite (c), Erin Fazackerley, Josie Dooley (wk), Courtney Webb, Georgia Wareham, Molly Strano, Maitlan Brown, Carly Leeson, Lea Tahuhu
Last year's result: Semi-finalists
The inside word with Kristen Beams on The Scoop podcast
"If the Renegades get themselves into that top four, I think they will get through (to the final). They've had a consistent group of players who have learnt so much about those times they've made semi-finals and they won't make the same mistake again. The fact they've got a great leader in Amy Satterthwaite will help them go a long way in this tournament."
October 25: v Stars, Hurstville Oval
October 26: v Heat, Hurstville Oval
October 31: v Scorchers, Drummoyne Oval
November 1: v Sixers, Showground Stadium
November 3: v Hurricanes, Blacktown International Sports Park
November 7: v Thunder, Hurstville Oval
November 8: v Strikers, North Sydney Oval
November 10: v Hurricanes, Blacktown International Sports Park
November 14: v Scorchers, Showground Stadium
November 15: v Stars, Showground Stadium
November 17: v Thunder, Blacktown International Sports Park
November 18: v Strikers, Blacktown International Sports Park
November 21: v Sixers, North Sydney Oval
November 22: v Heat, Drummoyne Oval