WBBL Preview & Predictions

The Women’s Big Bash is back – bigger and bashier than ever! Last year, the Sydney Thunder lifted the trophy; but who will triumph this season? Will the Heat burn? The Stars shine? Or the Hurricanes blow? Read on to find out…

Brisbane Heat

Last Year: 6th

The Heat’s two English overseas have both departed – Kate Cross has not had the best year, so that wasn’t unexpected; but to lose Lauren Winfield, who has been in great form for England, looks careless to say the least. Winfield’s replacement, Smriti Mandhana, is a classy-looking player, but perhaps not best-suited to T20 – she averages 18 in T20 internationals at a Strike Rate of under 100 – Winfield averages 24 at a Strike Rate well over 100. The Heat’s hopes must rest largely on Jess Jonassen, who is probably the leading bowler in the world game right now, and Deandra Dottin, who needs no introduction; but much beyond that, they lack the strength in depth required to go long in such an intense competition.

Prediction: Group Stages

Hobart Hurricanes

Last Year: Semi-Finals

The Hurricanes have stuck with pretty-much exactly the same squad that defied expectations to power through to the semi-finals last season. In Heather Knight, they have a captain who will lead from the front; and if Hayley Matthews needed an introduction to Aussie fans last time out, she won’t now, after having run the Southern Stars through with a broadsword in the T2o World Cup Final back in April. But with other teams having strengthened, the likelihood has to be for a group-placed finish for the ‘Cane Train this time around.

Prediction: Group Stages

Melbourne Renegades

Last Year: 8th

After taking home the wooden spoon last year, the Renegades have marched then-captain Sarah Elliot behind the woodshed, replacing her with New Zealander Rachel Priest; and added an extra scoop to the batting sundae, in the shape of Southern Star Grace “Bomber” Harris – the only woman to score a century in WBBL|01. Danni Wyatt is back – though she continues to struggle for England, she has propsered in Australia in the past at Vic Spirit, so the potential match-winners are there, but beyond the big names, they look very fragile indeed.

Prediction: Group Stages

Perth Scorchers

Last Year: Semi-Finals

The Western Fury had a torrid time in the WNCL, finishing bottom of the table on nul points, after failing to win a game; but having lined-up a very strong overseas contingent of Suzie Bates, Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole, alongside a strong native top order headed-up by Nicole Bolton and Elyse Villani, they must have been hoping for better things from the Scorchers. Unfortunately, however, Anya Shrubsole is still injured unavailable (see comments), and although she is theoretically coming back for the latter stages of the competition, you wouldn’t bet your last sixpence on it, and her replacement – Becky Grundy – just isn’t in the same class.

Prediction: Group Stages

Melbourne Stars

Last Year: 5th

In WBBL 1, the Stars were a bit of a one-woman show, and their early elimination essentially proved the old adage that cricket is a game played by eleven players not one, even if that one player is Meg Lanning! They are bolstered this year by Jess Cameron’s return to the leather and willow, and although they have lost Kristen Beams to injury, Dani Hazell is a pretty good replacement. They’ve also got Nat Sciver returning, who perhaps disappointed slightly in terms of runs last year, but more than made up for it with the ball, taking 18 wickets – if she can replicate her recent England form with the bat, the Stars are in with a big shout this time around.

Prediction: Semi-Finals

Sydney Thunder

Last Year: Winners

The Thunder topped the group stages last year, with 9 wins from their 14 league games, and went on to win the competition, beating the Sixers with 3 balls to spare in a low-scoring, and slightly anticlimactic, final. Unsurprisingly, they’ve kept pretty-much the same team this season, with Stafanie Taylor returning, having won the T20 World Cup and KSL Player of the Tournament in the meantime. Their one big signing is the new Indian T20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur. Harmanpreet had a brilliant recent T20 series with the bat versus the West Indies, making 68*, 43 and 60*, although India did lose the series 3-0; so it will be interesting to see if she brings that form with her, or her slightly more recent Asia Cup form, where India won the tournament, but she averaged just 12.

Prediction: Semi-Finals

Adelaide Strikers

Last Year: 7th

After disappointing last season, the Strikers have strengthened their batting line-up with Charlotte Edwards, who turns 37 later this month, but remains one of the best in the world, averaging 52 in WNCL, including a century against Queensland Fire; and Tammy Beaumont, who on good batting tracks with fairly short boundaries will be able to turn on the kind of attacking game she played against Pakistan last summer, and could be the signing of WBBL. Plus, with Megan Schutt, Sarah Coyte and Amanda-Jade Wellington, they’ve got enough quality bowling options to take them all the way to the final.

Prediction: Final

Sydney Sixers

Last Year: Final

Marizanne Kapp, Dane van Niekerk, Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy, Sara McGlashan, Lisa Sthalekar… you’d mug your own grandmother to have any one of them on your team, and the Sixers have got all of them – the other 5 players in the XI might hardly matter! Of course, Lisa Sthalekar has been semi-retired for a fair while now; and it looks like Sara McGlashan’s international career is over too, having been left out of recent New Zealand squads building towards the 2017 World Cup – but don’t count either of them out of making a big impact – experience matters, as we saw in the Kia Super League. But the key is Ellyse Perry – she is quite literally on top of the world right now, batting ridiculous numbers, and continuing to make a contribution with the ball, albeit at a more measured pace than she once did – her confidence is sky-high, and if there is one player who can win it on her own, she is it.

Prediction: Winners

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “WBBL Preview & Predictions

  1. Thanks for the preview!

    WBBL02 has certainly crept up on us and it’s here already! Can’t wait for some of the live streams this time around even if it does mean a few late nights / early mornings. At least most of these are at weekends!

    I think the general feel of most observers I’ve read goes along the lines of Thunder, Sixers and Strikers as the strongest 3 teams. On the balance of probability, one of these 3 should win it. Heat and Renegades appear to be the weakest on paper. The others – Hurricanes, Stars and Scorchers are somewhere in the middle. They are in with a chance of qualification as well. I think that one or maybe even 2 of these latter 3 sides may go through.

    I agree about Brisbane Heat. Not having Winfield is a big loss, she’s just as good a player as Beaumont in T20 I think. She under performed in WBBL01 but would surely have done much better this time. My personal choice from the Indian team would probably have been Veda Krishnamurthy, although Kaur can be devastating and will be an asset for Thunder. Mandhana is a great player as well, but as you say a bit unproven in the T20 format. I suspect she might play the anchor role to Jonassen’s aggression – these two could put on some decent runs together. Heat could finish up to 6th or 5th but might struggle to break into the top four.

    Stars are a decent outside bet – they underachieved last time out, but nearly qualified, and look stronger this time with 2 match-winners Lanning and Sciver coming into form. Hurricanes’ chances may depend on whether they can replicate last year’s run, but consistency of player selection, spirit and experience count for a lot and I wouldn’t rule them out too early.

    Like

    • I agree with James that it’s unwise to write off the Hurricanes – especially as their third overseas player is Amy Satterthwaite, who has been in wonderful form this year.

      I saw Melbourne Stars vs Wellington Blaze at the Basin Reserve on Wednesday. Melbourne batted first and made a tidy 204* in their 20 overs: while Meg Lanning was the main contributor with 128*, Emma Inglis scored 70-odd and looked a more than handy opener. Although the Stars won comfortably, their bowling attack didn’t look overly threatening on what was a very good batting track.

      Like

  2. PS: One for the statisticians: Meg Lanning’s century in the women’s match was the 4th T20 century on the Basin Reserve by a woman (previous ones had been scored by Amelia Kerr (x2) and Sophie Devine). In the following men’s game, Luke Wright’s T20 century for the Stars was the first by a man.

    Like

Comments are closed.