Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL), the leading domestic cricket tournament that has changed the course of women’s cricket in various ways. Not only it has given a domestic league, a global wrap, but at the same time, the professionalism was at its peak. The junior cricketers who were coming out to the age group or the other grade cricket got a platform where they can rub shoulder with the bests of cricket.

Cricket Australia provided their junior cricketers with the same atmosphere that players get at the international arena. And Australia got the desired result. WBBL nurtured the players and produced the like of Ash Gardner, Sophie Moniluex, Georgia Wareham, Anabel Sutherland, Molly Strano, Maitlan Brown – to name a few for the international setting.

So, besides creating a spectacle for Women’s Cricket which attracted a large number of crowd, WBBL  provided a non-stop supply of the cricketers to the national side. Each year young cricketers from age-group cricket, amidst the fanfare of international stars, play their part all silently. But one day people reseal that the perilous youngster has grown up to be the force to reckon with, the assassins.

This year, along with the junior players, who have been the part of the sides for a couple of years, 8 sides have decided to incorporate few more. Sydney Thunders have 8 of their players who are less than 20 years old out of the 15 members side.

In this article, Women’s CricInsight look into the players who are included this year along with the players who were part of the side but didn’t get many chances to prove their worth in the previous season.

Sydney Sixers:

Emma Hughes – Promising pace bowler Emma Hughes signed her first contract with the Sydney Sixers prior to WBBL 05 and has committed to the club until the end of WBBL 07. The right-arm swing bowler was one of three teenagers to sign with the Sixers for WBBL 05 and, in June 2020, Hughes received her first state contract with the NSW Breakers. Hughes was the leading wicket-taker for her club, Penrith, in the McDonald’s Women’s Premier Cricket Limited-Overs competition during 2019-20.

She claimed 11 wickets at an average of 20.6. Her best figures of 4-21 from six overs game against Parramatta. Hughes, who was previously part of the Sydney Thunder Academy, has progressed through the Cricket NSW Pathway, regularly representing ACT/NSW Country at Under 15 and Under 18 National Championships level. While picking up 11 wickets in 8 matches in U15 Championship in 2015/2016 she also rose to the occasion, picking up 10 wickets in  U-18 tournament as well during 2018/19 season.  She was part of the ACT/NSW Country squad that won the Under 18 50-over national title in 2017/18 defeating NSW Metro in the Final. She had played two matches while picked up a wicket this season.

Apart from Hughes, who is yet to make her debut for the two times Championship, 17 years old Hayley Silver-Holmes – who had a breakthrough season last year when she picked up 6 wickets with an economy of 8. She was joined by another teenager Stella Campbell who picked up 5 wickets. Maddy Darke though didn’t have a great outing with the bat for Sixers last season, did well in the domestic circuit. Campbell and Silver Holmes have picked up 10 and 4 wickets respectively this season for Sixers.

Sydney Thunders:

Saskia Horley, Anika Learoyd, Phoebe Litchfield, Hannah Darlington, Rachel Trenaman and Tahlia Wilson – the young brigade will be joined by another pair of young players in form of Kate Peterson and Olivia Porter.

Litchfield made her debut against Sixers and her 26 from 22 and the partnership with Alex Blackwell didn’t go unnoticed. In the next match against Heats, she came out to bat when her team was on 56/3 and her maiden half-century helped Sydney Thunder to go past the winning margin. She became the youngest players to score a half-century in WBBL.

She has scored 187 runs last season and will look to improve her tally this year. In 2019/2020 season for New South Welsh, she has scored 252 runs with an average of 42. On the other hand, 17 years old Hannah Darlington was the highest wicket-taker for Thunders with 18 scalps. Her economy was less than 7 and strike rate was impressive too. Along with Sammy Jo Johnson and Shabnim Ismail Thunders pace attack looks commendable. This season too she had a good outing with the bat scoring 166 runs in 11 innings, out of which she remained not out on 6 times.

The 2019/20 season was a break-out few months for Tahlia Wilson. She scored an impressive 47 not out on debut for the Thunder against the Perth Scorchers and finished the WNCL season as the NSW Breakers’ leading run-scorer with 281 runs at an average a tick over 40. Her contributions in the Breakers top order proving pivotal in their path to a 24th consecutive WNCL Final.

None more important than the 95 not out that steered NSW to victory over South Australia in the opening match. Wilson toured South Africa with the Women’s Australian Under 19 team in April 2018. During the past three seasons, Wilson has made 1,024 First Grade runs at 51.2 in both One-Day and T20 matches, opening the batting for St George-Sutherland.

Rachel Trenaman has been part of the Sydney Thunder since she was 15, joining the squad as an ACT and Regional rookie. A proud Riverina girl, like Thunder great Alex Blackwell, a 17-year-old Trenaman made her WBBL debut during WBBL 04 against the Sydney Sixers. The promising batter made an impact from the outset but not with the bat.

Her more than handy leg-spin claimed 2-11 from four overs at Sydney Showground Stadium and was pivotal to the win She has been the part of NSW Breakers form the very young age ad made her debut at the age of 15 during the 2016/17 season. During the winter of 2019, Trenaman toured England with an Australia A women’s team. Her 73 from 92 balls in a practice match against England was a stand-out.

Apart from them, there are also few who didn’t appear in Lime Green but have tremendous possibilities.

Anika Learoyd – She has been phenomenal in the age group cricket for the last couple of years. In 2029/2020 season she amassed 384 runs in the U-18 championship. It was better than her previous season where she had scored 282 runs for ACT with an average of 36. She can be Thunders one of the biggest prospects in the next couple of years and WBBL provides the perfect stage for that. Wicket-keeper, Tahlia Wilson too has been in good touch in WNCL as she was the highest run-getter for NSW in 2019/2020 season. She scored 281 runs with the best came against  South Australia where she scored 95. Though she had made her debut, both the matches got washed out.

Kate Peterson – The right-arm swing bowler has picked up 27 wickets in last two season in U-18 Championship. This 17 years old product of Thunder WBBL academy has picked up wickets with an average of 12 which earned her the two years contract with the Sydney Thunder.

Saskia Horley – She had made her debut in 2019, played four matches in WBBL 05 after making her debut against the Hurricanes in Tasmania. Horley has progressed through the strong Cricket NSW Pathway system as a teenager with Rebel WBBL 05 Young Gun Hannah Darlington and Thunder wicket keeper-batter Tahlia Wilson. This right-arm off-spinner is the highest wicket-taker (37) overall in U-15 Championship with an average of 8.51. Along with that, she has also scored 245 runs in the same category. In 2017/28 this 20 years old she had scored 254 runs at an average of 60 and in the very next year, she scored 237 with an average of 64 for Gordon Women’s Cricket Club in NSWWPC cricket tournament.

Melbourne Renegades:

Courtney Neale – a newcomer to the Renegades for WBBL|05, Neale hails from Dandenong in Melbourne’s south-east and broke into the Victorian Women’s Team for the first time last November. Aged 21, Neale is a fast bowler who has juggled her cricketing duties with her part-time studies as a paramedic, while she has previously worked as a lifeguard. Neale first began playing cricket as an 11-year-old in the Officer U-13s. She was a vice-captain that season, a move that foreshadowed her rise up the cricketing ranks in the decade that followed.

Ella Hayward – Ella made her debut for Victoria U-15 side at the age of 13. After making more than 400 runs in U-15 Championship with two half-centuries over 3 years she found her place in the under -18 team. 17 years old Ella Hayward showed her form in last years U-18 Championship which earned her the place in the Renegades side. This off-spinner was the 2nd highest wicket-taker with 15 wickets at an average of 11.73. Along with this, the all-rounder has scored 233 runs with an average of 47. However, in 2018/19 she also was the highest wicket-taker for Victoria with 10 wickets while scored 269 runs in U-15 categories. Hayward got 5 wickets in 7 matches with her off-spin with a best of 4/16 against table topper Melbourne Stars.

Perth Scorchers:

Georgia Wyllie – 17-year-old has been touring with the Western Australian Cricket Association’s (WACA) female development squad and was in the Asian country when multiple suicide bombings at churches and hotels killed at least 290 people. Mandurah’s Georgia Wyllie has been upgraded to a senior WA contract following a strong performance in the WACA Female High-Performance program. The 18-year-old all-rounder who put on a solid performance at the Cricket Australia Under 18s Championships will be one to watch. Her 222 runs in last years U-18 Championship earned this left-arm medium-pacers, her maiden call for the Scorchers.

Melbourne Stars:

Stars found Lucy Cripps and Sophie Day, two young guns as impressive this season. Though Lucy Cripps made her debut for the Stars in the previous season, she didn’t get the opportunity to show her skills in the field. With a secret strength of completing Rubik’s cube faster than Makinley Blows, Cripps has scored more than 250 runs and took 8 wickets in U-18 Championship.

Sophie Day – She has played for Plenty Valley Bats in Premier Cricket has scored 1,070 runs in four seasons but her talents as a spin bowler yielded 42 wickets at an average of 24, confirming her status as a reliable all-rounder. She has been included in the Victorian state side for WNSL. Day, also was the part of Berkshire side in the County Championship in 2019 and has played along with England skipper Heather Knight. Day has been phenomenal this season, picked up 10 wickets in 11 innings, with an economy of 6.75.

Georgia Gall – 16 years old left-arm seaming all-rounder has scored 161 runs and took 6 wickets in last two years. In Youth Premier League, Gall has batted with an average of 75. Gall signed with the Stars ahead of WBBL|06 as just a 16-year-old. Georgia hails from Euroa and was selected to represent the Cricket Australia XI in 2019 – a squad of 15 young cricketers who compete in the national Under 18 championships.

Tess Flintoff had a good outing with the bat last season while she batted with a strike rate of 120 and amassed 75 runs. With this year’s domestic performances, Flintoff can eye for a breakthrough season. Lanning has trusted her in the death overs and Flintoff with 10 wickets has stood up to the expectations this season.

Brisbane Heat:

Brisbane Heat has included promising youngsters in form of Georgia Voll and Charli Knott. Knott was the part of the Governor-General XI that played India before the World Cup. Knott was captain of the Queensland Under-18 women’s team that finished second in the T20 competition and joint champions in the one-day component of the National titles in Hobart earlier this year. She has scored 214 runs in the U-18 Championship while took 13 wickets. Knott too has 435 runs and 16 wickets in her U-15 tally. Knott who did not do much with the bat with limited opportunity, she got her maiden WBBL for Heats in form of South African Mignon Du Preez,

Her teammate Voll was the 2nd highest scorer in that tournament and the Player of the Tournament with 314 runs and 12 wickets in 2019/2020. 16 years old Voll, the batter is also good with her spin, is also the second leading runs-scorer in the Katherine Raymont Shield, hitting 709 runs at 59.08 with two centuries. Voll loves to play rugby but at the same time has made her debut for the Queensland in this year’s Women’s National Cricket Championship took two wickets against Victoria. In her 3 overs, she took the wicket of Molly Strano and Alana King. Voll scored 145 runs in 9 innings this seasons fro Heats, after the group stage.

Lilly Mills came under the radar of cricket experts after her 17 wickets for Queensland in U-15 Championship in 2015. After her prominence in U-15 tournaments where she picked up 28 wickets, she was handed the state cap in 2017. This 19 years old fast bowler belongs to that category of players who have both half-centuries and a five-wicket haul at any form of cricket. She has played all forms of grade cricket and in Katherine Raymont Shield she has picked up 32 wickets last year for Sandgate Redcliff Cricket club, last season.

Courtney Sippel – The left-hand bat and right-arm fast had made her debut for Heats two years back as a 17 years old prospect. In 2018/2019 season she picked up 11 wickets while scoring more than 300 runs, in U-18 Championship. Her tally of 529 runs in U-18 format put her in the list of all-time run-getter in that championship. In Katherine Raymond Shield she has been the go-to bowler for the Western Suburb District Cricket Club, picking up 60 wickets for them in 61 matches at an average of 15 for last four years. Apart from her bowling, she is a handy bat too. Her unbeaten 111 came against Gold Coast in 2017/2018 season. This year she has picked 4 wickets in 7 matches for Heats.

Hobart Hurricanes:

Amy Smith – Smith, who made her debut in the 2018/2019 season for Tasmania in WNCL, became the youngest ever person to play for the Tasmanian Tigers in First-Class and List A cricket, in both the men’s and women’s category. This 14 years old leg spinner took two wickets in two matches and proved the then Tigers Women’s Head Coach Salliann Briggs’s decision right. Two years later, she has been handed the contract with Tasmanian Tigers fro 2020/2021 season.

Smith who got the advice from Hurricane skipper Corinne Hall, most of the time, was the recipient winner of the Tasmanian Female Young Player of the Year for the past two seasons, after her impressive performances at the National Championships in the State Squad and Cricket Australia XI Squads. Hobart Hurricanes Head Coach Salliann Briggs who two years earlier noticed the talent in her and was pleased to have brought local young talent, Amy Smith, into the squad.

“Amy is an exciting young cricketer who made her WNCL debut at the age of fourteen, having a leg-spinner is crucial in T20 cricket and she gives us an option with the bat lower in the order. We’ll have a large focus on supporting her throughout the tournament,” the Head Coach said. Smith who has taken 14 wickets in 10 matches with an impressive average of 9.5 was the third-highest wicket-taker in U-18 National Championship in 2019/2020. Besides she was the highest run-scorer with 213 runs.  She has impressed everyone with her craft and has picked up 8 wickets this season,  which include the names like Ash Gardner and Erin Burns.

Adelaide Strikers:

Darcie Brown – 4-0-13-3. It was the figure of 17 years old fast Darcie Brown in her debut in WBBL. And one of her victims was Australian star, Nicola Carey. Brown with her immaculate line and pace stunned e batting line up of Hobart Hurricanes in her debut. Armed with swinging deliveries as well as nasty short balls she sizzled the opposition along with her skipper Megan Schutt. She is one of the most promising young fast bowlers in the country who became the youngest player to ever sign as a Striker at just 16 years of age.

Brown is a gifted athlete who is already one of the fastest bowlers in the State, consistently reaching speeds of up to 116 kilometres per hour. Brown was selected for the Under 19 Australian side at just 15 years of age and travelled to New Zealand to play a series against the New Zealand development squad. She has picked up 18 wickets in 24 U-15 matches while learnt a lot from Tahlia McGrath. She has picked up 10 wickets in 12 matches with an economy less than 6.

Ellen Falconer – Born and raised in Clare, 21 years old Ellie Falconer is a gifted young cricketer with a competitive streak. She progressed through the South Australian State system and was regularly recognized for her quick bowling ability, hard-working nature and resilience. Falconer was invited to train with the Strikers in 2016-17 as part of the nation-wide Community Rookie program and went on to earn her first WBBL contract with Adelaide for WBBL 03.

She made her Women’s National Cricket League debut for South Australia last summer and held her spot for all six matches. The young quick who has picked up 12 wickets in her U-15 tournaments, finished as the leading wicket-taker of the Statewide Super First Grade competition claiming 17 wickets for West Torrens in another sign of her rising talent.

Annie O’Neil – was included in Strikers squad, last year, but this right-handed opener and leg spinner didn’t get the chance to bat or bowl. Annie O’ Neil rose to the occasion from the age group cricket who took 19 wickets and 195 runs in U-15 cricket and 239 runs in U-18 Championship. Her prominence soon included her in the South Australian side in WNCL in, but before that she captained the South Australian Under 18s side for two consecutive National Championships.

Top-scoring for the Scorpions with a gritty 30 in her first match, O’Neil starred in what was a tough contest against New South Wales. O’ Neil helped Sturt clinch the Statewide Super First Grade title in 2018-19, with a quick-fire 29 in the final. O’Neil blasted the biggest score in Sturt Cricket Club’s long history with an incredible unbeaten 242 in 2017 to secure her maiden Strikers contract. This hard-hitting, aggressive middle-order player and a really good fielder, opened the batting in absence of veteran Suzie Bates for Strikers. But was bowled for 2 off the bowling of Belinda Vakarewa.

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