Monday, 11 October 2021

WBBL07 - Not quite Seventh Heaven

The seventh iteration of the WBBL starts this Thursday with 24 games due to be played on the island of Tasmania, before there are further "festivals" in Western Australia, Adelaide and Mackay, where the rest of the games will be played before the finals in late November. For all the fixtures check out our Fixtures Page.

Covid, of course, has meant that the original schedule has had to be altered, and covid has also shaped the squads for this year's competition with regard to the overseas players within each squad. It is good to see Indian players featuring once again, for the first time since 2017. In fact there are eight of them, more than any other nation, across five different teams. There are no English contracted players this year, but regional pros Eve Jones, Maia Bouchier, Issy Wong, and the capped Linsey Smith, will all have the opportunity to show what they can do on the big stage.

There are also five South Africans including Wolvaardt, van Niekerk and Kapp, who all made their mark in the Hundred, in England, in August this year. The usually high number of Kiwis is reduced to just two - Devine and Priest, at Scorchers and Hurricanes respectively. The prospect of substantial quarantine periods, or potentially not being able to get back into New Zealand at all, obviously weighed heavily on their minds.

Here is the current list of overseas players :-

Adelaide Strikers - Laura Wolvaardt (SA), Dane van Niekerk (SA)
Brisbane Heat - Anneke Bosch (SA), Nadine de Klerk (SA), Poonam Yadav (IND)
Hobart Hurricanes - Richa Ghosh (IND), Mignon du Preez (SA), Rachel Priest (NZ)
Melbourne Renegades - Eve Jones (ENG), Harmanpreet Kaur (IND), Jemimah Rodrigues (IND)
Melbourne Stars - Maia Bouchier (ENG), Kim Garth (IRE), Linsey Smith (ENG)
Perth Scorchers - Chamari Atapattu (SL), Sophie Devine (NZ), Marizanne Kapp (SA)
Sydney Sixers - Shafali Verma (IND), Radha Yadav (IND)
Sydney Thunder - Smriti Mandhana (IND), Deepti Sharma (IND), Issy Wong (ENG)

Each team is allowed five marquee players - overseas and Aussie contracted (with a maximum of three overseas). As for the Aussie contracted players (15 of them) they are distributed like this :-

Adelaide Strikers - Darcie Brown, Tahlia McGrath, Megan Schutt
Brisbane Heat - Jess Jonassen
Hobart Hurricanes - Nicola Carey, Tayla Vlaeminck
Melbourne Renegades - Sophie Molineux, Georgia Wareham
Melbourne Stars - Meg Lanning, Annabel Sutherland
Perth Scorchers - Beth Mooney
Sydney Sixers - Ash Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Ellyse Perry
Sydney Thunder - Rachel Haynes

Given this distribution this would certainly suggest that Adelaide Strikers and Sydney Sixers have good depth in marquee players, with the Renegades not far behind. But five players doesn't make a team, so who are the other key domestic players to look out for. Here are a few :-

Adelaide Strikers - Katie Mack, Tegan McPharlin, Maddy Penna, Amanda Jade Wellington
Brisbane Heat - Grace Harris, Laura Kimmince, Georgia Redmayne
Hobart Hurricanes - Maisy Gibson, Molly Strano, Belinda Vakerewa
Melbourne Renegades - Jess Duffin, Carly Leeson, Courtney Webb
Melbourne Stars - Maddy Darke, Tess Flintoff, Erin Osborne, Elyse Villani
Perth Scorchers - Sam Betts, Heather Graham, Alana King, Chloe Piparo
Sydney Sixers - Maitlan Brown, Erin Burns, Nicole Bolton, Stella Campbell, Lauren Cheatle
Sydney Thunder - Sam Bates, Hannah Darlington, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Phoebe Litchfield

On paper Sixers seem to have all bases covered with a strong international batting and spin-bowlng line-up. But with the exception of Ellyse Perry (who seems to having her own struggles of late) their pace attack looks raw, which could leave them exposed at the death of an innings.

Scorchers have three powerful overseas players who could all be potential match winners. They are light on Aussie contracted players, but their "second-string" is full of very experienced WBBL players, who could all contribute when needed. It makes them a strong "team".

Strikers too have two key overseas players in Wolvaardt and van Niekerk. It would be no surprise to see Wolvaardt at the top of the run scorers at the end of the tournament. Their Aussie contingent are also strong, although Schutt missed the Indian tour due to motherhood intervening so may not be at prime fitness. Will she be back to her metronomic and miserly best? Katie Mack and Amanda Jade Wellington both enjoyed the Hundred in England, with Mack excelling in the field and Wellington getting a hatful of wickets at a great economy rate. She will win Strikers games.

Last year's winners, Thunder, have picked up two very useful Indians in Mandhana and Sharma. Skipper Rachel Haynes also missed the Indian tour, and they will need her to add some stability to their batting, where young Phoebe Litchfield could be a key contributor. Perhaps not the strongest team on paper, but they could surprise people again.

Renegades look a bit short on seamers, which leaves the spin of Molineux and Wareham somewhat exposed. With the bat Rodrigues may be their key player, but she may have a lot to do. Kaur and Eve Jones may have to try and hold things together for the team in red.

Much-changed Hurricanes hope that they can do better than they have done in the last few seasons. The veteran Kiwi Rachel Priest will lead them this year, with a new recruit in off-spinner Molly Strano, leading wicket-taker in the WBBL (although WBBL06 wasn't her best with just 8 wickets), in their ranks. They have home advantage for the first set of games, but will it be enough for them?

Heat have performed consistently in the WBBL and have had an uninterrupted preparation for the tournament. They will miss Amelia Kerr and will hope that Jess Jonassen is fully fit after missing the India tour. Georgia Redmayne is the rock with the bat, while the Harris sisters will provide the fireworks, but the question is how often will they fire?

And finally Stars, who have the Aussie captain Meg Lanning in their ranks, but may still struggle to notch up too many wins. Their batting looks solid, but they look light on the bowling front having lost Alana King and Nat Sciver, their leading wicket-takers last year. Left arm spinner Linsey Smith has had a good 2020 in England, and may be needed to steady the bowling effort alongside Aussie veteran Erin Osborne. 

The opening games this week are (UK times) :-

Thursday, October 14
 WBBL - Sixers v Stars
Saturday, October 16
 WBBL - Renegades v Hurricanes
 WBBL - Thunder v Strikers
Sunday, October 17
 WBBL - Scorchers v Heat
 WBBL - Hurricanes v Sixers

You can see all the games in the UK on Sky Sports and Sky Main Event channels. I'd expect the Sixers to be the happiest team on Sunday evening, whilst the Hurricanes may be wondering how to get their season off the ground.

Martin Davies

Friday, 20 November 2020

Who will make the WBBL06 Finals?

With just eight games to play over this weekend there is still only one team who know they have made the WBBL06 semi-finals, and that is Meg Lanning's table-topping Melbourne Stars. Until this year they were the only team never to have made the Finals, and here they are sitting in an unassailable position at the top of the league. The question then is who will join them there?

Whilst mathematically the Renegades and the Hurricanes could still just squeak in, it is statistically almost impossible. The fight therefore for the other three slots will be between Heat, Thunder, Scorchers and Sixers, with the Strikers lurking, but with two massive games to play against teams above them (Thunder and Scorchers). 

So how might the games play out? Let's have a look at each game....

Given that the Stars are already through they might be forgiven for taking their foot off the gas and perhaps resting some of their players. You might expect English pair Brunt and Sciver to only feature in one game this weekend, but Stars still look strong in the batting department even without them. Heat have won five on the bounce, thanks largely to some inspired hitting from Laura Kimmince. But can that sustain them here? It looks doubtful.

Strikers have struggled this season and look destined to miss out (they also play the Scorchers to round off their season). They are a very young team, even their overseas star (Laura Wolvaardt) is only 21! Thunder's big names - Haynes and Knight - have held their batting together and you'd have to back them to do so again here

Canes have struggled with the bat, with four completed innings' totals below 90. Unless Rachel Priest comes good they are unlikely to trouble the Scorchers with Sophie Devine back in their ranks, although early Scorcher wickets could make it a low-scoring thriller!

Sixers just clung on to end their five game losing streak against the Thunder on Wednesday, but they look a nervous team. They are jam-packed with stars, but none have really taken WBBL06 by the scruff of the neck - Healy, Perry, Gardner, Kapp, van Niekerk. But a moderate performance should be enough to beat a Renegades side who have struggled with the bat. 

If the Thunder have beaten the Strikers the day before then playing the Canes gives them an ideal opportunity to cement their place in the Finals. The momentum will be with them and the Canes could buckle.

The Scorchers will be the favourites to take this game out, but the Strikers might just pull off a shock win. If the Strikers' bowlers can keep a lid on the Scorchers top four, then some of the lesser known Strikers' batters might just do what they need for the win.

This is probably the game of the weekend with everything riding on it for the Sixers, who have an inferior run rate to those around them. The Stars might just feel that if they win this won it might keep the Sixers out of the Finals, and thereby get rid of their closest rival. Stars in-form batting line-up of Lanning, du Preez, Villani, Sutherland, and Sciver looks too hot for the Sixers to handle.

The Heat will probably need to win this game to ensure themselves of a place in the Finals. Lose and net run rate might be required to get them through. They will know the calculations before the game starts so winning may not be the be all and end all for them. This could be the Gades' chance to sneak a cheeky win and force everyone to get their calculators out.

If this were all to play out then the top of the table would look like this

Stars               23
Thunder         16
Scorchers       14
Heat               14
Sixers             14

Net run rate would decide the second two teams to qualify for the semi-finals, with Sixers currently significantly in arrears of Heat and Scorchers. 

Is this how it will pan out? Almost certainly not.......but it will be fun to see!!

Martin Davies

Monday, 20 May 2019

WCB R4 MVP Ratings - 19th May 2019

Here are the top 10 players in each of the batting, bowling and overall categories from the fourth round of fixtures in Division One of Women's County Championship. The games were played on Sunday 19th May 2019 and the results were as follows

Hampshire 233/6 lost Kent 235/7
Notts 207/9 beat Warwickshire 203/9
Sussex 176/7 lost to Surrey 177/5
Lancashire 158 all out lost to Yorkshire 160/5

Martin Davies

Monday, 13 May 2019

WCB Cumulative Ratings as at 12th May 2019 (after three rounds of games)

After three rounds of the Women's County Championship here are the current WCB MVP Ratings, taking into account performances by players in those first three games.

Martin Davies

WCB R3 MVP Ratings - 12th May 2019

Here are the top 10 players in each of the batting, bowling and overall categories from the third round of fixtures in Division One of Women's County Championship. The games were played on Sunday 12th May 2019 and the results were as follows

Hampshire 128 all out lost to Sussex 129/9
Lancashire 241/6 beat Notts 195/9
Surrey 148 all out lost to Kent 152/3
Yorkshire 112 all out beat Warwickshire 108 all out

Martin Davies

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

WCB Cumulative MVP Ratings as at 6th May 2019 (after two rounds of games)

After two rounds of the Women's County Championship here are the current WCB MVP Ratings, taking into account performances by players in those first two games.

Martin Davies

WCB R2 MVP Ratings - 6th May 2019

Here are the top 10 players in each of the batting, bowling and overall categories from the second round of fixtures in Division One of Women's County Championship. The games were played on Monday 6th May 2019 and the results were as follows

Yorkshire 190 all out beat Hampshire 131 all out
Warks 232 all out lost to Kent 233/3

Lancs 242/9 beat Surrey 241/7
Notts 150 all out beat Sussex 127 all out