Every year, Melbourne Stars fail to live up to the expectations. They are yet to play a final, though they had pitched in versatility players, every year. Stars with the inclusion of big names look good on papers. And this year they have repeated the same old story. They had brought back the likes of Lanning, Sciver and Brunt this year while Meg Lanning will lead the side once again, after the break of 3 seasons. They have played 70 matches, and out of which, they won 26. However, they had a good record against Sydney Sixers, winning 6 out of 10 matches.

Played-70, Won-26 , Lost-43, NR/Tie-1, Win%-37.68

Women’s Big Bash League 05 Result: 8th

Under the leadership of Elyse Villani, Melbourne Stars had a horrible season last year. They won only two matches in their 14 encounters. They defeated Perth Scorchers by 20 runs based on Lizelle Lee’s unbeaten 103 and Melbourne Renegades by 7 wickets.

Best Result: 5th (2015-16, 2016-17)

Team Analysis of Women Big Bash League 06: Lizelle Lee, the highest run-getter for the team, last year and the 2nd highest run-getter for Stars, overall, has found a new home this year. One of the brutal openers in T-20 cricket in recent times, Lee has scored 1100 run in 39 innings with 2 centuries for Stars and has been a dominant batter in the top order.

Stars won 2 out of the 14 matches last year and within that colossal failure, Lee amassed 475 runs at a strike rate of 131. Her exclusion will be a huge set back for the Stars. Apart from her, New Zealand’s wicket-keeper and middle-order bat, Katie Martin didn’t find her place in this years squad. While leg spinner Kirsten Beams has taken retirement, Emma Inglis failed to secure her place this year.

However, Meg Lanning will return to her old mates, after a break of two years. Her inclusion will be a plus point for the Stars in the top of the order, in absence of Lee. Meg Lanning has scored more than a thousand runs for Stars at an average of more than 50, in her previous stint with the team. Last year, Lanning scored 531 runs for the Perth Scorchers and played an instrumental role to take the team to the semi-final.

Meg Lanning

Meg Lanning of the Melbourne Stars ©Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Meg Lanning, who bats at number three or four for Australia in the shorter format of the game, has opened the batting with Amy Jones for the Scorchers. If Trent Woodhill, the new head coach for the Stars stick with the same strategy, then Meg Lanning with open the bat with Elyse Villani. Villani has scored more than 300 runs in her first year with the stars and will look forward to continuing the same form with year too. She has lost her side in the national team. And a breakthrough year might just open up another possibility for her.

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Mignon Du Preez, the loyal Star of the Melbourne, is the all-time highest run-scorer for them. She, in the middle order, has been rock solid and in the last couple of years, her strike rate has increased too. A cricket who loves to play the copybook cricket will look forward to carrying on her reputation o bold the innings in the middle, whenever in required. She has scored more than 400 runs with a strike rate of 121. Her importance in the side has been reflected through the words of coach Trent Woodhill, “We were always keen to retain her experience and versatility in being able to play a range of roles through the batting line-up.”

Natalie Sciver who had a great time last year for Perth Scorchers too moved to Stars and her all-round abilities will boost the team in several departments. Sciver, who represented the Stars in the first two seasons of the WBBL before joining the Perth Scorchers, follows the lead of former Perth captain Meg Lanning in returning to Melbourne. Sciver was the Scorchers’ third most prolific run-scorer, with 342 runs at 38.

She also collected six wickets at 39 before international duty called and she was required to depart Australia just before the finals series. Along with Sciver, her partner, Katherin Brunt has joined Starts too. Brunt in first three seasons has played for the Perth too and was the highest wicket-taker in the third season. Though she failed to find herself in the top league of Australia in the next two years, she will be looking forward to starting afresh for the new team.

Melbourne seam attack which consists player like Holly Ferling and Annabel Sutherland was needed an experienced hand at their back, and Brunt’s inclusion could not have better timing.  Brunt can bat too and her hard-hitting can fetch useful runs in the last few overs of the match.

Tess Flintoff, Nicole Faltum and Annabel Sutherland will take care of the lower middle order. All of them have the abilities to send the ball out of the park. Last year, 17 years old Tess Flintoff was impressive and has batted with a strike rate of 120 and Sutherland’s rise to the national side has been the talk of the town for a year or so.

Melbourne Stars

Melbourne Stars ©Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Melbourne Star management signed Lucy Cripps and Sophie Day, two young prospects that they found impressive. 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. Sophie Day, who 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. If the side decides to bat Meg Lanning at number 3, Day is the to take care of the opening along with Villani.

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While the spin bowling department will be spearheaded by Alana King and Erin Osborne. Inclusion of Bhavisha Devichand, the leg spinner who has played for the Western Fury and Gloucestershire Women is a plus point too. Melbourne Stars had a strong contingent of pace bowlers. Apart from Brunt and Ferling, who has represented their national side, allrounders like Sciver, Sutherland, Tess Flintoff are there to share the workload.

Strength:

Melbourne Stars looks good on paper. It’s a good culmination of international experience along with the local talents. Meg Lanning, Ellyse Villani, Natalie Sciver and Mignon du Preez- Melbourne Stars’ top order will earn respect from the opposition bowlers at any given day. They have depth in the batting, though inexperienced.  And at the same time, the options they have in the all-round category can give them a space to breathe. Even in the probable XI that we have prepared, they have 7 bowling options which are pretty dissent in a 20 overs game. Depending on the given day, if they can perform according to their potential, they can overcome the last year’s sorrow story this year.

Weakness:

While the inclusion of the likes of Meg Lanning, Natalie Sciver will provide more depth, the inexperience in the lower middle order can turn out to be crucial at times. If Stars lose a few early wickets it will be too much to ask for the lower middle order to post a respectable total. The top-heavy batting order will make the side more vulnerable as the tournament progress.

Apart from King and Osborne, the side lack any other quality spinner. Though they had a number of seam bowling option, not much has been tested in the high profile tournament like WBBL, apart from Ferling and Brunt and that will be an area where Stars management needs to look into.

WBBL 06 Squad of Melbourne Stars:

Meg Lanning (C, Aus), Annabel Sutherland (Aus), Katherine Brunt (Eng), Natalie Sciver (Eng), Mignon du Preez (SA), Lucy Cripps, Sophie Day, Bhavi Devchand, Nicole Faltum, Holly Ferling, Tess Flintoff, Georgia Gall, Alana King, Erin Osbourne, Elyse Villani

Ins: Meg Lanning (Scorchers), Natalie Sciver (Scorchers), Katherine Brunt, Georgia Gall, Sophie Day, Bhavi Devchand

Outs: Lizelle Lee (Renegades), Nicola Hancock (Heat), Madeline Penna (Strikers), Angela Reakes (Sixers), Kristen Beams (retired), Katey Martin (NZ), Emma Inglis

Probable XI:

Meg Lanning (C), Elyse Villani, Natalie Sciver, Mignon Du Preez, Tess Flintoff, Nicole Faltum (WK), Annabel Sutherland, Alana King, Erin Osbourne, Katherine Brunt, Holly Ferling

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