The Australian cricket summer has kicked off. It was the Australian women’s team that squared off against their Trans-Tasmanian rivals New Zealand women’s in three ODIs and as many T20Is in late September and early October. The men’s game has returned in Australia too as the domestic season is underway with the Sheffield Shield.
And now, the sixth edition of the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) is all set to kick off. With only a few days to go for one of the best and premier Women’s T20 leagues in the world, here is all you need to know for the WBBL 06.
What does the schedule look like?
The tournament was supposed to kickstart on the 17th of October. However, due to the COVID-19 issues, the WBBL organisers decided to push it by eight days and now, the sixth season of the WBBL will start on the 25th of October (Sunday).
All eight teams play their first game of the tournament on the opening day itself. The tournament will go on for five weeks and the final is scheduled to be played on the 29th of November (Sunday). There are 56 league stage games and that will conclude on the weekend of November 21-22. The semi-finals will be played on the 25th of November (Wednesday).
As far as the league stage games are concerned, there are either double-headers or four games in a day. There is not a single day in the WBBL schedule which has only one game (or two teams) playing. Every weekend, all eight teams will play on both Saturday and Sunday which means there are eight games scheduled every weekend.
What about the venue and travelling?
Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, travel is restricted and hence, movement from one city to another will be an issue. Hence, for the sixth edition of the WBBL, only one city has been picked as the venue. Sydney will host all 59 matches of this season of the WBBL season. Sydney has an Olympic-style sports village which will help in maintaining a bio-bubble during the entire duration of the tournament.
There are as many five ground in Sydney that will host these games. They are namely, North Sydney Oval, Hurstville Oval, Drummoyne Oval, Showgrounds Stadium and Blacktown International Sports Park. The North Sydney Oval and the Hurstville Oval will host the first set of games (on the first Sunday and Monday) before the other venues come into play.
Who are the previous winners?
The first season of the WBBL season was played back in the 2015-16 home summer. It was the Alex Blackwell-led Sydney Thunder who emerged as the inaugural winners of the WBBL.
However, Sydney Sixers who lost the final in the first season won back to back titles in 2016-17 and 2017-18. It was Alyssa Healy who led the Sixers to the title in the second season while Ellyse Perry was at the helm when the Sixers won the title in the third season.
In the last two seasons, it’s been all Brisbane Heat as they’ve gone on to win the title twice in a row. Kirby Short was the captain in both seasons.
What about the overseas stars in the WBBL 06?
The WBBL 06 was struck by a jolt when that the BCCI announced the Women’s T20 Challenge (Women’s IPL) will be played in the first week of November alongside the Playoffs Week of the men’s Indian Premier League (IPL). And it was despite the announcement of the 2020 season of WBBL long ago.
Now, that means, there will be no participation of the Indian players in this edition of the WBBL. However, there is no shortage of star attraction in the WBBL this year. Big overseas stars from England, South Africa, New Zealand and West Indies have been signed and will be taking part in the WBBL this season.
Some of the biggest names in world cricket and from their respective countries have flown down to Australia for this WBBL 06. There are seven players from New Zealand, eight from South Africa, six from England and two from West Indies who will be taking part this season.
How the teams stack up and key players?
The defending and two-time champions have had a slight rejig. Although the core of the side has been retained, the departing Beth Mooney (moved to Perth Scorchers) and Sammy-Jo Johnson (moved to Sydney Thunder) have created some big holes to fill. Skipper Kirby Short has announced her retirement as well. However, the Heat are bolstered by the inclusion of the South African all-rounder Nadine de Klerk who will play a key role alongside New Zealand duo of Amelia Kerr and Maddy Green. Australia’s all-rounder duo of Delissa Kimmince and Jess Jonassen will play vital roles this season.
Overseas stars: Maddy Green (New Zealand), Nadine de Klerk (South Africa), Amelia Kerr (New Zealand)
The runners-up from the last edition have a huge void to fill as Sophie Devine moved to Perth Scorchers ahead of this season. The Strikers have signed up South Africa international Laura Wolvaardt and might partner skipper Suzie Bates at the top of the order. Megan Schutt will lead the bowling attack while the likes of Stafanie Taylor and Tahlia McGrath will be the key all-rounders. Leg-spinner Amanda Jade-Wellington and retired Australian all-rounder Sarah Coyte will be central figures in the Strikers line-up as well.
Overseas stars: Suzie Bates (New Zealand), Stafanie Taylor (West Indies), Laura Wolvaardt (South Africa)
The Scorchers have made a couple of huge signings. They have acquired two of the biggest superstars in the women’s game in Sophie Devine (from Adelaide Strikers) and Beth Mooney (from Brisbane Heat). In fact, Devine has also been named as the captain of the side. Young England leg-spinner Sarah Glenn will be making her WBBL debut this season while Amy Jones was retained and she will be a key player.
Overseas Stars: Sophie Devine (New Zealand), Sarah Glenn (England), Amy Jones (England)
Amy Satterthwaite returns to the Renegades line-up after having missed the WBBL 05 owing to pregnancy. She will be a key player. Meanwhile, Lizelle Lee and Lea Tahuhu will be vital cogs as well. Molly Strano, Sophie Molineux and Georgia Wareham will be the big Australian players in this Renegades squad.
Overseas Stars: Amy Satterthwaite (New Zealand), Lizelle Lee (South Africa), Lea Tahuhu (New Zealand)
The Stars finished with the wooden spoon last season and seem to have started afresh this time around. While Kirsten Beams has retired, the signing of Meg Lanning would lift the spirits and she is going to be a huge player for them. The England all-rounder duo of Natalie Sciver and Katherine Brunt was also signed and they will play key roles in the Stars line-up. Annabel Sutherland, Elyse Villani and Mignon du Preez are the others who are going to be vital.
Overseas Stars: Katherine Brunt (England), Nat Sciver (England), Mignon du Preez (South Africa)
The two-time champions haven’t really made any significant changes to their squad. They’ve only made a couple of local changes and are the only team with only two overseas picks. Marizanne Kapp and Dane van Niekerk will be huge for the balance of the side. Alyssa Healy and Ashleigh Gardner are a part of that formidable top-order. The veteran off-spinner Sarah Aley will also be a key component in the bowling department.
Overseas Stars: Marizanne Kapp (South Africa), Dane van Niekerk (South Africa)
For Thunder, two of the veterans and legends Alex Blackwell and Rene Farrell bid adieu to the game. However, they have got in some quality replacements. Australian all-rounder Sammy-Jo Johnson was signed (moved from the Heat). Tammy Beaumont and Heather Knight are some big international signings and they will be the big players in the line-up. Rachael Haynes is going to spearhead the batting line-up while South African pacer Shabnim Ismail will lead the pace attack.
Overseas Stars: Tammy Beaumont (England), Shabnim Ismail (South Africa), Heather Knight (England)
New Zealand stars Rachel Priest and Hayley Jensen were the big signings this season. Jensen was called in as a replacement to their marquee player Tayla Vlaeminck who was ruled out due to injury. West Indies all-rounder Hayley Matthews and batter Chloe Tryon continue to remain with the side and will play key roles. Pacers Nicola Carey and Belinda Vakarewa will be crucial, especially in the absence of Vlaeminck.
Overseas Stars: Hayley Matthews (West Indies), Rachel Priest (New Zealand), Chloe Tryon (South Africa)