Indian Stars In Focus As WBBL’s Seventh Edition Kicks Off

Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Indian stars in focus as WBBL's seventh edition kicks off. The seventh edition of the WBBL will be fully televised.

Indian Stars In Focus As WBBL’s Seventh Edition Kicks OffThe seventh edition of the WBBL will be fully televised.

The world's still adjusting to COVID-19's constant presence around. The cricketing community too. But Australia's unwavering commitment towards continued support and progress of women's cricket even in these unprecedented times is due to set new benchmarks with a fully televised seventh edition of the Women's Big Bash League starting Thursday (October 14).

A lot has changed in the one year since women's cricket got its first taste of bio-secure bubble life when WBBL|06 was entirely moved to a Sydney hub at the eleventh hour owing to a fresh COVID outbreak in various Australian states. For starters, now both Sydney and Melbourne have lost out on their hosting rights due to similar border restrictions at the moment, forcing another rejig to the schedule announced in July. The first 24 games of the season now will be played in Tasmania, before the competition moves to South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland. Sydney and Melbourne may still have a chance at staging the knockouts should they qualify – COVID permitting – but what the last-minute change means is that the show will have to go on without the DRS facility for both the women's as well as men's competition this season.

Another distinctly missing element will be the English and Kiwi flavour, with a number of non-returnees due to a now-cancelled tour of Pakistan (England) and apprehensions over border restrictions (NZ). What that has allowed, though, is for a late influx of Indian stars, already on Australian shores for the intensely fought multi-format series. As many as eight of them have signed on including maiden gigs for teenagers Shafali Verma (Sixers) and Richa Ghosh (Hurricanes), The Hundred sensation Jemimah Rodrigues (Renegades), allrounders Radha Yadav (Sixers) and Deepti Sharma (Thunder) and diminutive legspinner Poonam Yadav (Heat). That, along with the two regulars – Harmanpreet Kaur (Renegades) and Smriti Mandhana (Thunder). The India vice-captain may even be up for a maiden captaincy stint, with Sydney Thunder's regular skipper Rachael Haynes asking herself unavailable, likely for the entire season, after the birth of her first child.

The competition itself has got a revamp, besides the level up in terms of broadcast. In a newly devised finale series, there's a massive incentive for teams acquiring the top-two spots in the standings at the end of the league. While the no. 1 earns a direct ticket to the finale on November 27, and most likely stage at their home venue as well, the second-placed side will take on the winner of 3 vs 4 to find out the second finalist.

Here's how the eight sides shape up:

Sydney Thunder (Winners – WBBL|06):With Haynes ruling herself out, the defending champions have an opening in the captaincy role which will likely fall to one of their latest recruits, Mandhana, in the absence of Heather Knight and Tammy Beaumont. The club has an entirely revamped foreign roster with the southpaw being joined by her India teammate Deepti and England's uncapped pace sensation Issy Wong, who replaces injured Shabnim Ismail. The recruitment comes on the back of head coach Trevor Griffin's long-standing association with the Indian vice-captain and the all-rounder at Western Storm in the now-defunct Kia Super League. Nonetheless, the team isn't short on experience. Besides, a large part of their title-winning core is intact in Hannah Darlington, Sammy Jo-Johnson and Phoebe Litchfield.

Squad: Smriti Mandhana (India), Deepti Sharma (India), Issy Wong (England), Sam Bates, Hannah Darlington, Jessica Davidson, Corinne Hall, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Anika Learoyd, Phoebe Litchfield, Kate Peterson, Olivia Porter, Lauren Smith, Tahlia Wilson

Melbourne Stars(Runners-up – WBBL|06):They still have Meg Lanning and Elyse Villani in their ranks, but last year's runners-up have lost out on significant star power with English pair of Nat Sciver and Katherine Brunt not re-signing, and Mignon du Preez making the move to Hurricanes. Annabel Sutherland will therefore have more responsibility on her young shoulders in the bowling department. After missing out on their maiden title last year, following a narrow defeat in the finale despite finishing on top of the points table, Stars will be hoping for their young signings as well as homegrown talent to step up to have a shot at the knockouts again.

Squad:Meg Lanning (c), Annabel Sutherland, Maia Bouchier (England), Kim Garth (Ireland), Linsey Smith (England), Lucy Cripps, Maddy Darke, Nicole Faltum, Tess Flintoff, Georgia Gall, Anna Lanning, Rhys McKenna, Erin Osborne, Elyse Villani

Brisbane Heat:Brisbane's already facing the heat with Delissa Kimmince now being retired, Amelia Kerr being on a break, and skipper Jess Jonassen just returning from a stress injury that forced her out of the preceding series against India. But the good news is that the batting department looks in formidable touch with the likes of Georgia Redmayne dominating the batting charts in the opening rounds of Women's National Cricket League (WNCL). The core is still the same, including the resigning of South African all-rounder Nadine de Klerk from last season who will be joined by teammate Anneke Bosch – the pair impressing massively in the white-ball series in India earlier this year. Adding a new dimension to their bowling attack is revered Indian leggie Poonam, staying back in Australia for her maiden taste of franchise cricket.

Squad:Jess Jonassen (c), Anneke Bosch (SA), Nadine de Klerk (SA), Poonam Yadav (India), Zoe Cooke, Nicola Hancock, Grace Harris, Laura Kimmince, Mikayla Hinkley, Charli Knott, Georgia Prestwidge, Georgia Redmayne, Courtney Sippel, Georgia Voll

Perth Scorchers:Like with most top sides, Scorchers are missing an English pair too – Amy Jones and Sarah Glenn – but they were the earliest to complete their foreign player recruitment drive with the massive signings of Sri Lankan skipper Chamari Athathapathu and South African pace queen Marizanne Kapp (released by Sixers). Inarguably they have the most destructive top-order with skipper Sophie Devine, Athathapathu and Beth Mooney in their ranks. Along with that, they have proven names in their ranks – Heather Graham impressing with her all-round skills in their semifinal-finish last season while Piepa Cleary making a name for herself at the Hundred. A strong roster makes them one of the early favourites for the knockouts.

Squad:Sophie Devine (c) (NZ), Beth Mooney, Chamari Atapattu (SL), Marizanne Kapp (SA), Samantha Betts, Mathilda Carmichael, Piepa Cleary, Ashley Day, Amy Edgar, Heather Graham, Lisa Griffith, Alana King, Lilly Mills, Taneale Peschel, Chloe Piparo

Sydney Sixers:Unconventionally, Sixers have preferred youth over experience in the big overhaul ahead of the seventh season – letting go of the South African pair of Dane van Niekerk and Kapp, and bringing in first-timers Shafali Verma and Radha Yadav, who both need no introduction. Recently-capped quick Stella Campbell and Maitlan Brown have big shoes to fill in the bowling department – more so with the retirement of veteran Sarah Aley – but the good news for them is that skipper Ellyse Perry is back even if it was a mixed bag in the India series. Nicole Bolton returns to bolster the batting that already boasts of two of the country's most destructive top-order stars, Alyssa Healy and Ashleigh Gardner, and Sixers would settle for nothing less than a knockouts ticket.

Squad:Ellyse Perry (c), Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Shafali Verma (India), Radha Yadav (India), Jade Allen, Nicole Bolton, Maitlan Brown, Erin Burns, Stella Campbell, Lauren Cheatle, Emma Hughes, Matilda Lugg, Angela Reakes, Claire Moore (injury replacement)

Melbourne Renegades:Like a lot of the other sides, Renegades lost their foreign bench comprising Kiwi stars Amy Satterthwaite and Lea Tahuhu and South African opener Lizelle Lee ahead of the season. But they've made some inspired selections in The Hundred stars of Jemimah Rodrigues and her Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur, along with England's Evelyn Jones. The bowling, too, has suffered from the departure of Molly Strano and Brown, but a new-look side – under new coach Simon Helmot and new captain Sophie Molineux – remains confident of improving on the seventh-place finish from last season. Helmot, after all, has guided St Kitts and Nevis Patriots to their maiden CPL title just earlier this year.

Squad:Sophie Molineux (c), Makinley Blows, Josie Dooley, Jess Duffin, Ellen Falconer, Holly Ferling, Poppy Gardner, Ella Hayward, Evelyn Jones (England), Harmanpreet Kaur (India), Carly Leeson, Rhiann O'Donnell, Jemimah Rodrigues (India), Georgia Wareham*, Courtney Webb

Hobart Hurricanes:Pace sensation Tayla Vlaeminck returns from the foot injury that kept her out last season, foreign recruit Rachel Priest has been named captain, and new signings include two of the most consistent performers of the competition over the years – du Preez and Strano. Hobart Hurricanes could not have had a better off-season revamp. And after spending four seasons out of the top four, they'd be fancying their chances of making the knockouts this time around. All-rounder Nicola Carey and India's first-choice keeper-bat in the just-concluded white-ball games, Ghosh, strengthen the middle order.

Squad:Nicola Carey, Mignon du Preez (SA), Angelina Genford, Richa Ghosh (India), Maisy Gibson, Ruth Johnston, Sasha Moloney, Rachel Priest (C) (NZ), Chloe Rafferty, Amy Smith, Molly Strano, Naomi Stalenberg, Rachel Trenaman (injured), Belinda Vakarewa, Tayla Vlaeminck

Adelaide Strikers:It was pure luck that when Strikers were dealt a major blow with skipper Suzie Bates pulling out of the competitions due to quarantine-forced apprehensions, South African captain, and one of the best all-rounders on the women's circuit, Dane van Niekerk was still without a WBBL contract after being released by the Sixers. She's a frontrunner to replace Bates as the team's captain too, having just led Oval Invincibles to the inaugural Hundred title. But there's little doubt that with a strong international bench, Strikers are among the top contenders for a knockouts berth this year, after strengthening their core with some smart moves.

Squad:Megan Schutt, Darcie Brown, Tahlia McGrath, Dane van Niekerk (SA), Laura Wolvaardt (SA), Jemma Barsby, Nell Bryson-Smith, Sarah Coyte, Meagan Dixon, Katie Mack, Tegan McPharlin, Bridget Patterson, Maddie Penna, Annie O'Neil, Amanda-Jade Wellington

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