Squad goals: How your club is shaping up for WBBL|06
With schedules and contracting periods expected to be announced this month we take a club-by-club look through the WBBL to see how things are placed
1 July 2020, 09:50 AM AEST
The contracting window for the next Rebel WBBL season has yet to open – but when it does, there could be a flurry of activity as the clubs look to lock down their stars for the sixth edition of the tournament.
Back-to-back champions Brisbane Heat will need to act fast to keep the bulk of their winning squad together, with just one player remaining on a multi-year deal, while there are some big-name Australian players who are currently uncontracted.
The ongoing global coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions in Australia means there is a degree of uncertainty around how the next season will play out.
The restrictions surrounding international travel in particular could prevent some overseas players from taking part this summer – which means recruiting and retaining strong local talent will be more important than ever this off-season.
While there are plenty of unknowns about the upcoming season, things should become clearer later this month when the contracting embargo lifts and the season schedule set to be announced.
In the meantime, here's a definitive guide to how your WBBL club is currently placed, alongside some speculation around what they may like to add to improve on last summer's results.
If this year's contracting rules are in line with previous seasons, clubs with have an allowance of up to five marquee players and a maximum of three from overseas.
Australian marquees have previously been those who hold a Cricket Australia contract at the beginning of the WBBL|06 contracting period.
WBBL|05 result: Runners-up
WBBL|06 squad so far: Megan Schutt, Amanda-Jade Wellington, Tahlia McGrath, Darcie Brown, Suzie Bates (NZ)
WBBL|05 squad members off contract: Sarah Coyte, Katie Mack, Tegan McPharlin, Annie O'Neil, Bridget Patterson, Alex Price, Tabatha Saville, Sophie Devine (NZ), Stafanie Taylor (WI), Lauren Winfield (Eng, replacement player)
After making their first WBBL final last season the Strikers have retained a solid nucleus in Australian star Megan Schutt, New Zealand veteran Bates and talented locals Amanda-Jade Wellington and Tahlia McGrath.
They clearly rate the skills of young fast bowler Darcie Brown highly, with the 17-year-old on a multi-year deal – and after appearances for the Cricket Australia XI and the Governor-General's XI last summer, their early investment in the speedster could begin to pay off this season.
Adelaide will be determined to hang on to captain and WBBL|05 Player of the Tournament Sophie Devine, and need to add another big-name international – last year they lured Windies star Stafanie Taylor across from the Thunder, but she played just two matches due to a combination of international commitments and injury, and her replacement, Lauren Winfield, was not able to have the impact the Strikers would have liked in her stead.
Leg-spinner Wellington no longer qualifies as a marquee player after a year without a Cricket Australia contract, giving Adelaide the chance to try and lure one of the big-name out-of-contract Australians. They already have one of the competition's best top-orders – imagine if they added either Beth Mooney or Sophie Molineux to the mix?
WBBL|05 result: Champions
WBBL|06 squad so far: Delissa Kimmince
WBBL|05 squad members off contract: Jess Jonassen, Beth Mooney, Haidee Birkett, Grace Harris, Laura Harris, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Mikayla Hinkley, Charli Knott, Lilly Mills, Georgia Prestwidge, Courtney Sippell, Maddy Green (NZ), Amelia Kerr (NZ)
Safe to say that after winning back-to-back titles, the key here is for the Heat to try and retain the bulk of their championship squad.
Australian allrounder Delissa Kimmince is the only player on a multi-year deal and other clubs will be circling – not only looking Australian stars Beth Mooney and Jess Jonassen, but also the Heat's enviable roster of domestic talent including the likes of Sammy-Jo Johnson and Grace Harris.
The Heat are also faced with a big leadership question – who will step up to lead the side following the retirement of Kirby Short? While their depth across the last two seasons meant Short's batting talents were under-utilised, her captaincy has consistently been called out as a major contributor to Brisbane's recent success. Deciding who will fill her enormous shoes will be no easy task.
The Heat will also have a chance to reconsider their overseas options – they had two New Zealanders in their ranks in Amelia Kerr and Maddy Green. Both played key roles – Kerr, in particular, is a world-class talent and the Heat would no doubt be keen to at least keep her on their books.
WBBL|05 result: 7th (four wins, nine losses, one no result)
WBBL|06 squad so far: Nicola Carey, Tayla Vlaeminck, Erin Fazackerley, Maisy Gibson, Brooke Hepburn, Corinne Hall, Sasha Moloney, Hayley Matthews (WI)
WBBL|05 squad members off contract: Stephanie Daffara, Katelyn Fryett, Meg Phillips, Emily Smith, Belinda Vakarewa, Chloe Tryon (SA), Fran Wilson (Eng), Heather Knight (Eng)
Hobart did not achieve the success they would have liked last season, but there were promising signs for the Hurricanes in their first season after a recruiting spree that secured the services of Australian stars Nicola Carey and Tayla Vlaeminck, alongside Belinda Vakarewa and Maisy Gibson.
Without doubt, Vlaeminck and Vakarewa were the success stories of WBBL|05, starring with the ball and reaping the benefits of being given greater opportunity and responsibility than at their previous clubs.
Batting was where the Hurricanes struggles, with their top scorer for the season – England captain Heather Knight – finishing 20th on the overall runs tally. Hobart struggled to settle on their ideal opening combination, trying a host of different players at the top of the order and largely persisting with the aggressive Erin Fazackerley, who passed fifty just once for the season. Fazackerley is signed for WBBL|06, but whether or not she plays remains to be seen after the talented youngster decided to step away from state cricket for 2020-21.
Their most exciting prospect with the bat was South Africa hard-hitter Chloe Tryon, who averaged 35 with the incredible strike rate of 178, but she consistently batted down the order, raising questions as to whether the best was being made of her talents (a question that has followed her at international level too).
Given the question marks around internationals, Hobart are well-placed with their local bowling stocks, but likely need to add at least one strong local batter to their list.
WBBL|05 result: Semi-finalists
WBBL|06 squad so far: Georgia Wareham, Maitlan Brown, Josie Dooley, Jess Duffin, Molly Strano, Courtney Webb
WBBL|05 squad members off contract: Sophie Molineux, Makinley Blows, Erica Kershaw, Courtney Neale, Carly Leeson, Tammy Beaumont (Eng), Lea Tahuhu (NZ), Danielle Wyatt (Eng), Anna Lanning (injury replacement)
When it comes to local talent on multi-year deals, the Renegades are better-placed than most.
Molineux is a signature they will be eager to hang on to, but other core members of their best XI including Jess Duffin, Georgia Wareham and Molly Strano are all secured, alongside two rising stars in Maitlan Brown and Josie Dooley.
Melbourne will be hoping opening bat Danni Wyatt and fast bowler Lea Tahuhu return but in uncertain times, they appear to be in a strong position.
The club has also secured a new head coach in Lachlan Stevens, who moves across from guiding the men's program on an interim basis last summer. The club said farewell to former coach Tim Coyle as part of Cricket Victoria's cost-cutting restructure.
WBBL|05 result: 8th (2 wins, 12 losses)
WBBL|06 squad so far: Nicole Faltum, Holly Ferling, Alana King, Annabel Sutherland, Elyse Villani
WBBL|05 squad members off contract: Lucy Cripps, Tess Flintoff, Emma Inglis, Nicola Hancock, Erin Osbourne, Angela Reakes, Mignon du Preez (SA), Lizelle Lee (SA), Katey Martin (NZ), Madeline Penna (injury replacement)
It was a tough, tough season for the Stars who already fielded one of the weaker lists in the competition before their task became even tougher when they were ravaged by injury.
Only five members of their WBBL|05 group remain under contract, giving the Stars a relatively clean slate to pursue new talent and build a new-look roster, and that appears set to start with Australia captain Meg Lanning who has all but confirmed she'll be returning after a stint with the Perth Scorchers.
The Stars also have a new head coach in Trent Woodhill, who doubles up as the list manager for the BBL side of the Stars. Woodhill takes over after a major restructure at Cricket Victoria and marks the end of a period of off-field upheaval: the club parted ways with David Hemp and had landed a major coup with the signing of Australian high-performance guru Leah Poulton, only for Cricket NSW to lure her away with the offer of a new role heading up their female pathway.
In good news for the Stars, their two Australians – Elyse Villani and Annabel Sutherland – are secured on multi-year deals.
They have bid farewell to former Australian leg-spinner Kristen Beams, who has retired, but have some promising young talent at hand in Nicole Faltum and Alana King, while they should be keen to hang on to well-regarded teenager Tess Flintoff.
WBBL|05 result: Semi-finalist
WBBL|06 squad so far: Nicole Bolton, Jemma Barsby, Heather Graham, Emma King, Piepa Cleary
WBBL|05 squad members off contract: Meg Lanning, Taneale Peschel, Piparo, Georgia Redmayne, Samantha Betts, Mathilda Carmichael, Kath Hempenstall, Amy Jones (Eng), Natalie Sciver (Eng), Kim Garth (Ire)
The Scorchers have a new coach for WBBL|05, with Australian assistant Shelley Nitschke taking the reins from Lisa Keightley, who has taken over as England head coach.
The big question mark hanging over Perth will be whether they can entice captain Meg Lanning to re-sign with the club, following the end of her initial three-year deal.
The Australian superstar was the difference in helping her team to the semi-finals last summer and while she was backed up by England pair Natalie Sciver and Amy Jones, the next most prolific local Scorchers batter was Nicole Bolton, who averaged 18.
Lanning's leadership was also critical in getting the most out of one of the WBBL's least-heralded bowling attacks – one that was only weakened when quick Piepa Cleary suffered a season-ending injury.
Bolstering that bowling attack should be another priority for the Scorchers.
WBBL|05 result: 5th (7 wins, 7 losses)
WBBL|06 squad so far: Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy, Ashleigh Gardner, Erin Burns, Marizanne Kapp (SA), Dane van Niekerk (SA), Lauren Cheatle, Maddy Darke
WBBL|05 squad members off contract: Sarah Aley, Alisha Bates, Stella Campbell, Jodie Hicks, Emma Hughes, Hayley Silver-Holmes, Lauren Smith
It almost goes without saying that no team is in a better position than the Sixers.
After the shock of last season, which saw them miss the finals for the first time in the WBBL's history following Ellyse Perry's shoulder injury and some wayward form from their main stars, the Sixers are already in an enviable season heading into WBBL|06.
Hanging on to the services of captain Perry is a huge bonus after the canny decisions to extend Alyssa Healy and Erin Burns' contracts prior to the start of last season.
Even if global circumstances were to prevent Marizanne Kapp and Dane van Niekerk making the journey from South Africa, any squad boasting Perry, Healy, Burns, Ashleigh Gardner and Lauren Cheatle is in a very good position.
WBBL|05 result: 6th (5 wins, 8 losses, 1 no result)
WBBL|06 squad so far: Rachael Haynes, Sam Bates, Hannah Darlington, Saskia Horley, Phoebe Litchfield, Rachel Trenaman, Tahlia Wilson
WBBL|05 squad members off contract: Lisa Griffith, Kate Peterson, Naomi Stalenberg, Nida Dar (Pak), Rachel Priest (NZ), Shabnim Ismail (SA)
Two immediate questions for the Thunder come hot on the heels of the retirements of veterans Alex Blackwell and Rene Farrell. Blackwell was the Thunders' top run scorer in WBBL|05 and while Sydney have a star in the making in teenager Litchfield, they will be searching for some experience to bolster that middle order as well – with that in mind, retaining Stalenberg may also be front of mind.
Darlington was the Thunder's leading wicket taker last season and looms as a natural successor to Farrell, and the club has confirmed the young gun will remain on their books for WBBL|06.