Star recruits confirmed as Tasmania reveal squad
Molly Strano, Hayley Silver-Holmes and Elyse Villani have opened up on the reasons behind their shift to the Tigers
11 June 2021, 03:08 PM AEST
Molly Strano has revealed the chance to work with Tasmania coach Salliann Beams was behind her shock decision to leave Victoria, as she looks to take her game to another level and continue pressing for higher honours.
Tasmania confirmed one of the worst-kept secrets of the off-season on Friday when they unveiled a women's 2021-22 contract list featuring off-spinner Strano and opening bat Elyse Villani.
The former Victoria pair are among three new faces in the Tigers' squad, joined by 17-year-old pace bowling allrounder Hayley Silver-Holmes who has relocated from New South Wales.
The additions of Villani and Strano – the leading run-scorer and wicket-taker respectively in the 2021 Women's National Cricket League – are a significant boost for the Tigers, who finished third on the table last season and narrowly missed a berth in their first final.
"I've come down here for a little more opportunity," said Strano, who has played seven T20Is for Australia and was part of their two most recent tours without cracking the final XI.
"I've played for Victoria for 10 years so it was a really hard decision to come down here but I was really drawn to this program, I know Salliann runs a really good program down here and I was excited to join up with her.
"I've seen other players come to Tasmania and watched them evolve as players and people, and take their games to the next level, and I'm hoping I can do the same.
"I'll forever be indebted to Cricket Vic … but I was really excited to get myself out of my comfort bubble in Melbourne and challenge myself from a personal and cricket perspective by coming down here."
Strano, 28, has signed a two-year deal with the Tigers, but hopes to see out her career in her new state.
The spinner, who is the WBBL's all-time leading wicket taker, is out of contract with the Melbourne Renegades for WBBL|07, but it remains to be seen whether a move to the Hobart Hurricanes is also on the cards.
Villani remains contracted to the Melbourne Stars for WBBL|07, while Silver-Holmes is on a multi-year deal with the Sydney Sixers.
Villani, who has been capped more than 100 times for Australia but has not represented her country in more than two years, produced a record-breaking WNCL season with the bat last summer, scoring three hundreds and two fifties.
"(Playing for Australia) is still an ambition of mine, but first and foremost I'm passionate about pushing myself to get better and better … I'm also really passionate about winning and I'd love to do that here and be part of Tasmania's first WNCL final," said Villani, who also explained her move to Tasmania was for personal reasons, with her partner based in Hobart.
"I wanted to stop doing long distance, and make sure I have a balanced life."
Silver-Holmes is still in high school but has several seasons under her belt with NSW and the Sydney Sixers and will now complete her final year of schooling in Hobart.
The teenager explained she made the move to seek greater opportunity, after playing just four matches for the Breakers last WNCL season.
There is tough competition for fast-bowling spots in the NSW ranks, with new recruit Maitlan Brown joining Sammy-Jo Johnson, Stella Campbell, Lauren Cheatle and Hannah Darlington as part of the Breakers' 2021-22 squad.
"Hopefully moving down here will help me pursue my dream, which is playing for Australia," Silver-Holmes said.
"One of the reasons I came down here is to get as much opportunity as I can get … the program down here is sensational."
The additions of Villani, Strano and Silver-Holmes continues Tasmania's trend of recruiting interstate or overseas talent under coach Salliann Beams.
Ten members of their 16-player list have relocated to Tasmania across the past three years; Nicola Carey, Maisy Gibson, Naomi Stalenberg and Belinda Vakarewa all moved from NSW, alongside the likes of Heather Graham and Emily Smith (WA) and Rachel Priest (New Zealand).
Beams said the long-term goal was to inspire the next generation of local talent, to follow in the footsteps of 16-year-old leg-spinner Amy Smith, who earned her second Tasmania contract.
"The big thing for me when I came here was making sure this program was a destination club … that being part of this program meant you could go on to bigger and better things," Beams said.
"We've worked to build both our program and our list over the past few years, and with the additions to our playing group this year, it's a testament to the staff and players within our program – as well as the wider organisation – that we have players of this calibre wanting to be a part of our team.
"Through this and our Journey 25 vision, we are building both a team that has what it takes to bring home that WNCL title, but also a team that can continue to inspire the next generation of Tasmanian girls to believe that cricket is truly a career they can take to the highest level if they wish."
Emma Thompson will sit out the upcoming summer after announcing her first pregnancy and will be replaced on the Tigers' list by local wicketkeeper-batter Emma Manix-Geeves while she takes maternity leave.
Manix-Geeves, a past Tasmania contract holder, earned another opportunity after a standout Cricket Tasmania Premier League season.
Departing the Tigers are left-arm spinner Samantha Bates, who has secured a contract with Victoria, while Brooke Hepburn retired and Meg Phillips was delisted.
2021-22 Tasmania Women's Contract list
In: Hayley Silver-Holmes (NSW), Elyse Villani (Vic), Molly Strano (Vic)
Out: Brooke Hepburn (retired), Sam Bates (Vic), Meg Phillips (delisted)
Squad: Chloe Abel, Nicola Carey (CA contracted player), Maisy Gibson, Heather Graham, Corinne Hall, Emma Manix-Geeves, Sasha Moloney, Rachel Priest, Hayley Silver-Holmes, Amy Smith, Emily Smith, Naomi Stalenberg, Molly Strano, Emma Thompson (maternity leave 2021-22), Belinda Vakarewa, Elyse Villani