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WBBL|03 preview: Adelaide Strikers

01 December 2017

A key signing could lead the charge as the Strikers look to make their first finals appearance in WBBL|03.

The squad: Rhiannon Dick, Annie O’Neil, Ellie Falconer, Tammy Beaumont (Eng), Suzie Bates (NZ), Sophie Devine (NZ), Megan Schutt, Amanda-Jade Wellington, Samantha Betts, Tahlia McGrath, Katelyn Pope, Alex Price, Tabatha Saville, Tegan McPharlin, Bridget Patterson.

In: Suzie Bates (Scorchers), Rhiannon Dick (Sixers), Ellie Falconer, Annie O’Neill

Out: Sarah Coyte, Charlotte Edwards, Sarah Elliot, Shelley Nitschke (all retired)

Mel Jones previews WBBL|03: Adelaide Strikers

The inside word with coach Andrea McCauley: “Certainly we want to make finals, that’s always our goal. I think we’ve got the best-balanced group that we’ve had in terms of skill set, et cetera. I’m quietly confident that we’ve got the right mix. Suzie Bates was targeted to be captain as she’s certainly one of the best captains going around in the female game. (We’ve got) Amanda Wellington, Tahlia McGrath who are coming off experience of representing Australia, which obviously makes them better players, and players like Bridget Patterson who are performing well for us (SA Scorpions) in the WNCL. Every game they play, they get more experience.”

The talking point: After dwelling in the cellars of the Rebel WBBL ladder the first two seasons, the Strikers will be desperate to see finals action in WBBL|03. Key signing Suzie Bates, who previously captained Perth Scorchers, shapes as a key cog. The damaging allrounder, who scored the most runs for New Zealand in this year’s ICC Women’s World Cup, will be hoping to build on a solid WBBL|02 campaign, where she made 310 runs and took 13 wickets. She will join fellow White Fern Sophie Devine and England opener Tammy Beaumont as a formidable overseas trio in the 15-player squad. Add to that the form of Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes strike bowler Megan Schutt, spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington and young quick Tahlia McGrath, and the Strikers look like a team that could be a force in the newest edition of the WBBL. But can they deliver on that potential?

Sharp Schutt snares two wickets against Gades

The WBBL|02 result: Eighth. There were some promising signs for the Strikers in WBBL|02, but ultimately it was another season of disappointment as they finished with the wooden spoon. They mustered up just three wins from 14 completed matches. Batting was a sticking point for the Strikers, who failed to reach a century as a team on four occasions. Devine was impressive in her nine matches, making 276 at 38.57 and boasting the best strike rate of any player to front up for more than three innings with 135. But from a team perspective, having also endured a bottom-two finish in the inaugural WBBL season, it was not the second-up result the club would have been hoping for.

The one to watch: Megan Schutt. A dependable seamer for Australia in their Ashes campaign, she claimed 18 scalps across seven matches. Particularly pleasing for the Strikers would be her form across the T20s. Schutt played a key role in the Southern Stars’ win in the first T20I, claiming 4-22, including the prized wicket of first-drop Sarah Taylor, and cleaning up the tail to keep England’s total well within Australia’s reach. Schutt followed up with 2-16 in the second match.

Amanda-Jade Wellington will be looking for a big WBBL|03 // Getty
Amanda-Jade Wellington will be looking for a big WBBL|03 // Getty

The rising star: Amanda-Jade Wellington. Fresh off her Test and Ashes debuts, the 20-year-old leg-spinner will be champing at the bit for WBBL|03. Her impact at the Strikers has been solid over the opening two seasons, with 20 wickets and a handy 53 runs and strike rate of 103.92 to her credit. With a year of international experience now under her belt, it will be interesting to see how Wellington’s WBBL game has advanced. Her form across four T20Is to date has been impressive, claiming nine wickets with a scintillating strike rate of 9.3.

The changes: The retiring quartet of Sarah Coyte, Charlotte Edwards, Sarah Elliot and Shelley Nitschke have paved the way for a slight changing of the guard at Adelaide, opening the door for Sydney Sixers allrounder Rhiannon Dick and teenagers Ellie Falconer – who was a rookie with the Strikers last summer – and Annie O’Neill. The Strikers have also lured Bates across from the west, completing a nice mix of youth and experience coming in to complement the Strikers’ core group. But the team in Blue will be looking at its retained players to drive its improvement and lead the charge up the ladder.

The fixtures:

December 9 v Hurricanes – Gliderol Stadium, Glenelg

December 10 v Hurricanes – Gliderol Stadium, Glenelg

December 16 v Renegades – Gliderol Stadium, Glenelg

December 17 v Renegades – Glideron Stadium, Glenelg

December 29 v Heat – Adelaide Oval

December 31 v Heat – Adelaide Oval

January 5 v Stars – Casey Fields, Cranbourne East

January 9 v Stars – Adelaide Oval

January 13 v Scorchers – Traeger Park, Alice Springs

January 14 v Scorchers – Traeger Park, Alice Springs

January 20 v Thunder – Robertson Oval, Wagga Wagga

January 21 v Thunder – Robertson Oval, Wagga Wagga

January 27 v Sixers – Hurstville Oval, Hurstville

January 28 v Sixers – Hurstville Oval, Hurstville