WBBL preview: Star-studded Sixers with point to prove
The Perry-led two-time champs will be insistent on bouncing back into the top four after last summer's disappointment
16 October 2020, 12:27 PM AEST
Missing the Rebel WBBL finals last season was an unfamiliar and unwelcome sensation for the Sydney Sixers.
It is a situation they are determined to avoid in WBBL|06, as the two-time champions head into the tournament with renewed hunger and a squad that is, at least on paper, as strong as ever.
Injuries and below-par form from some of their biggest stars cost the Sixers dearly in WBBL|05 as they finished fifth on the table, the first time in five years they had failed to reach the business end of the tournament.
"I'm sure it's a huge factor (driving the team), I can only speak for myself at the moment but I know it made me work harder in the off-season to try and get things right," Sixers coach Ben Sawyer told cricket.com.au.
"We had an amazing run being able to make the finals every year and to miss out by a game or a few points last year … no-one wants to sit here around game 13 or 14 this season and be in the same spot we were last year.
"So I'm sure it's a driving factor for all the players."
Despite boasting a star-studded batting line-up including Australia stars Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy, Ashleigh Gardner and Erin Burns alongside South Africa's Marizanne Kapp and Dane van Niekerk, the Sixers imploded on several occasions last season, bowled out for 73 against the Brisbane Heat and restricted to 9-93 and 9-100 against the Strikers and Scorchers respectively.
Sawyer knows that on their day, his batters are capable of anything – as shown in their record 199-run partnership against the Stars last season – but the Sixers' brain trust has also recruited carefully to add insurance to their explosive line-up.
Allrounder Angela Reakes, who also adds a spin-bowling option with the ball, is one of just two changes to the Sixers' list this season after returning to the club after a stint with Melbourne Stars, alongside former Thunder pacer Lisa Griffith.
"Ange Reakes, I just think she's that extra batter for us in the middle order," Sawyer said.
"We want to make sure if we aren't having a particularly great day we can still post a competitive score and I think Ange will really help us with that.
"When we're on, we are an unbelievably good batting line-up, it's just about the days when we mightn't get off to the greatest start - how can we still build a competitive total?
"Ange is what we're really looking for there."
Sawyer also expects the Sixers' crop of young talent including up-and-coming pace bowlers Stella Campbell and Hayley Silver-Holmes to step up this season, particularly later in the regular season when every team will play six matches in nine days.
"Our young girls in particular are the ones I'm most excited about this year," Sawyer said.
"Last year they were exposed to it a little bit, and this year I think we'll rely pretty heavily on some of the young girls at certain times throughout the season."
Squad: Ellyse Perry (c) (Aus), Alyssa Healy (Aus), Ashleigh Gardner (Aus), Marizanne Kapp (SA), Dane van Niekerk (SA), Sarah Aley, Erin Burns, Stella Campbell, Lauren Cheatle, Maddy Darke, Lisa Griffith, Jodie Hicks, Emma Hughes, Angela Reakes, Hayley Silver-Holmes
Ins: Lisa Griffith (Thunder), Angela Reakes (Stars)
Outs: Lauren Smith (Thunder), Alisha Bates
Possible best XI: Ellyse Perry (c), Alyssa Healy (wk), Ashleigh Gardner, Erin Burns, Dane van Niekerk, Marizanne Kapp, Angela Reakes, Sarah Aley, Stella Campbell, Lauren Cheatle, Hayley Silver-Holmes
Last year's result: Fifth (7 wins, 7 losses)
The inside word with Kristen Beams on The Scoop podcast:
"The way Alyssa Healy leads their batting line-up is key to their success. She is so dynamic at the top of that line-up and it really does put pressure on bowlers. If she can consistently get the Sixers off to any kind of start and put them in the right direction, the line-up just flows."
October 25: v Thunder, North Sydney Oval
October 26: v Strikers, North Sydney Oval
October 31: v Stars, Showground Stadium
November 1: v Renegades, Showground Stadium
November 4: v Heat, Blacktown International Sports Park
November 7: v Hurricanes, North Sydney Oval
November 8: v Scorchers, Hurstville Oval
November 11: v Scorchers, Blacktown International Sports Park
November 14: v Hurricanes, Showground Stadium
November 15: v Strikers, Drummoyne Oval
November 17: v Heat, Blacktown International Sports Park
November 18: v Thunder, Blacktown International Sports Park
November 21: v Renegades, North Sydney Oval
November 22: v Stars, North Sydney Oval