Thunder skipper Haynes set to miss WBBL|07
Rachael Haynes is likely to miss the Thunder's title defence, following the arrival of her first child
13 October 2021, 04:50 PM AEST
Sydney Thunder are set to be without captain Rachael Haynes for the entirety of their WBBL title defence due to border restrictions and quarantine requirements.
Haynes and her partner Leah Poulton recently welcomed their first child Hugo, with the Australia vice-captain returning home to Sydney from the Australia-India series in Queensland for the birth.
She had always planned to miss the opening matches while on parental leave, but had intended to re-join the Thunder several weeks into the season.
But with the rejigged Weber WBBL|07 schedule entirely bypassing New South Wales due to border closures, Haynes would need to undergo a fortnight of hard hotel quarantine to join her teammates, unless state borders open to NSW far earlier than expected.
The season begins in Tasmania on Thursday, before moving to South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland, before the finals are played between November 23-27.
The left-hander, who is also recovering from a hamstring injury suffered during the third ODI against India, already endured a two-week stint in a hotel room in Brisbane ahead of the international series.
"As much as I want to be with the team, leaving Leah and Hugo at this stage for such a long period wouldn't be fair on us as a family" Haynes said.
"I've spoken to all the players and staff, and they've been extremely supportive of my decision.
"It just shows that in matters of the heart, the heart wins.
"I am doing my hamstring rehabilitation with the intention that I can put myself forward to play.
"But it would be much later in the season and contingent on state borders opening up."
Under the new WBBL finals system, the top two teams earn the right to host finals.
Cricket Australia are hopeful the Sydney and Melbourne clubs could host finals if any qualify inside the top two; while both states are currently coming out of lockdown, border restrictions could remain a hurdle.
The Thunder are yet to name a replacement skipper, but NSW Breakers vice-captain Hannah Darlington is one contender, alongside the experienced Sammy-Jo Johnson and former Hurricanes captain Corinne Hall, who joined the Sydney club this season.
Haynes’ absence further impacts a middle-order that has already lost England captain Heather Knight, who is unavailable to play this season.
"As disappointing as this is, I know Rachael will be watching to see who steps up to lead and who seizes their opportunities," Thunder coach Trevor Griffin said.
"The overwhelming feeling within the squad is this is a special time for Rachael, Leah and Hugo."
The Adelaide Strikers and Sydney Sixers will also miss key players for the early stages of WBBL|07.
Strikers star Megan Schutt will miss the Hobart leg of the tournament to be with her family following the birth of her first child with wife Jess, Rylee, who arrived prematurely in August.
Sixers allrounder Erin Burns will also be a late arrival after opting to spend extra time at home in Sydney following her return from The Hundred in late August.
Burns was released from hotel quarantine on September 11, less than two weeks before Sydney-based WBBL players had to fly to Hobart to commence their mandatory period of hard quarantine in Tasmania.
Alongside her pregnant wife Anna, Burns is expecting her first child later this summer.
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