WBBL’s India influx and strong South Africa contingent

It has been another challenging year to get overseas players into the WBBL, but India’s presence in Australia has been a huge boost while some familiar faces will return and new names make their first appearance. There are a few spots still available and this list will be updated as any further signings are confirmed

Adelaide Strikers

Laura Wolvaardt (South Africa)
One of the most fluent stroke-makers in the game – especially with a cover drive that often goes viral – Wolvaardt returns to Strikers after being comfortably their leading run-scorer last season with 347 at 26.69. She arrives on the back of an impressive tour of West Indies where there were signs that she will be able to lift last-season’s strike-rate of 104.83. In the second T20I she finished the innings with four consecutive sixes.

Dane van Niekerk (South Africa)
Wolvaardt will be joined by her international captain with allrounder van Niekerk making the switch from Sydney Sixers as they refreshed their list. She enjoyed a productive tour with the ball in West Indies which followed on from her being Oval Invincibles’ top scorer in the Hundred with 259 runs at 43.16, alongside eight wickets, which earned her the Player of the Tournament.

Brisbane Heat

Anneke Bosch (South Africa)
The allrounder missed the tour of West Indies due to injury having made a promising return earlier in the year. This will be her first experience of the WBBL.

Nadine de Klerk (South Africa)
De Klerk, who made her mark in the T20 World Cup semi-final against Australia, returns for her second season at the Heat and can expect more work with the ball having bowled just 16 overs in nine matches last year.

Hobart Hurricanes

Richa Ghosh (India)
The 18-year-old wicketkeeper-batter impressed in the recent ODI series against Australia, where she made her debut in the format, bringing power to India’s middle-order. Her glovework remains a work in progress.

Rachel Priest (New Zealand)
Priest stood head and shoulders above a poor Hurricanes batting line-up last season with 354 runs at 35.40 – nearly 200 more than the next best – and a strike-rate of 118. Overall, her spell in the Hundred with Trent Rockets was less successful although she did hit 76 off 42 balls against London Spirit.

Mignon du Preez (South Africa)
It’s a switch from the green of Melbourne Stars to the purple of Hurricanes for the experienced batter who scored 380 runs last season. She did not have a prolific Hundred but finished the recent tour of West Indies strongly.

Melbourne Stars

Kim Garth (Ireland)
Garth is now settled in Australia but remains classed as an overseas player and returns to the WBBL having not been part of it last season. Earlier this year she was named Ireland’s female player of the decade (2011-2020).

Maia Bouchier (England)
With England initially having a tour of Pakistan overlapping with the WBBL their senior names won’t appear this season. Bouchier made her debut against New Zealand having shown promise for Southern Brave in the Hundred. She made 25 off 24 balls on her international debut.

Linsey Smith (England)
The left-arm spinner has not played for England since 2019 but comes off a strong domestic season which included nine wickets in the Hundred – with an economy rate of just 5.54 – 10 wickets in the Charlotte Edwards Cup with an even better economy of 4.87 and 12 wickets in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.

Melbourne Renegades

Harmanpreet Kaur (India)
India’s T20I captain returns to the WBBL having previously represented Sydney Thunder across three seasons where she averaged 35.65. Was struggling with a thumb injury during the current multi-format series which saw her miss the ODIs and Test but has now recovered.

Jemimah Rodrigues (India)
Rodrigues had an impressive Hundred for Northern Superchargers where she finished as the competition’s second-highest run-scorer with 249 runs in just seven innings with a stand-out strike-rate of 150.90. She is a livewire in the field and keep an eye on her social media.

Eve Jones (England)
The uncapped English player has enjoyed a breakout domestic season and is, perhaps, an early indication of the impact of the Hundred in creating more visibility. She was named the PCA’s Women’s Player of the Year. For Central Sparks, Jones was the leading run-scorer in the Charlotte Edwards Cup with 276 runs at an average of 55.20 and third-highest on the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy charts with 299 runs at 42.71

Perth Scorchers

Sophie Devine (New Zealand)
The New Zealand captain has claimed back-to-back Player of the Tournament titles, the first with Strikers and then having moved to Scorchers who reached the semi-finals last season. Across the last two campaigns, she has made 1229 runs and struck one of the two individual centuries made in the 2020-21 competition.

Marizanne Kapp (South Africa)
The allrounder, who has moved from Sydney Sixers, will bolster both departments. Last year she was Sixers’ leading wicket-taker with 13 scalps and an economy rate of 6.14. She capped off the Hundred with 26 off 14 balls and figures of 4 for 9 to lead Oval Invincibles to the title.

Chamari Athapaththu (Sri Lanka)
Although Athapaththu’s previous returns for Renegades have been underwhelming, she has a superb international record in Australia where she has scored two of her six centuries: 113 off 66 balls at North Sydney Oval in 2019 which was followed by an ODI 103 in Brisbane.

Sydney Sixers

Shafali Verma (India)
Verma could form one of the most exciting opening partnerships in WBBL history alongside Alyssa Healy, which would mean breaking up the long-standing top-order pairing with Ellyse Perry as Sixers aim to revive themselves after two disappointing seasons. Her fielding, which is a noticeable weak point, could come under pressure in a tournament that generally has high standards.

Radha Yadav (India)
The 21-year-old left-arm spinner, who has played 40 T20Is, will bring a different dynamic to the Sixers’ attack and help fill the hole created by the departure of van Niekerk. Her career-best 4 for 23 came in Melbourne, against Sri Lanka, in the 2020 T20 World Cup.

Sydney Thunder

Smriti Mandhana (India)
Mandhana, who has previously played for Heat and Hurricanes, is enjoying a superb tour of Australia which was so far included 86 in the third T20I and the magnificent 127 in the day-night Test. She will have a critical role to play in Thunder’s title defence, especially during the first part of the tournament where they are expected to be without captain Rachael Haynes.

Deepti Sharma (India)
The allrounder will be key in balancing Thunder’s side and her offspin will help fill the overs that were previously taken by Heather Knight. She was London Spirit’s leading wicket-taker in the Hundred and has shown promising batting form during the series against Australia. One of her strong options is the slog-sweep against the spinners.

Issy Wong (England)
Although still uncapped, Wong is among the fastest bowlers in the English game – tipped as someone who could break the 80mph/128kph mark – and has been signed to fill the significant absence of Shabnim Ismail who was a central figure in the title success last season.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

(With Inputs from ESPN)

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