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WBBL 06 Preview: Boosted with the Cocktail of Young Guns and Experience, Sydney Thunder Striving for the Lost Glory

Sydney Thunder was the inaugural Champions of the Women’s Big Bash League. They had defeated Sixers in the final by 3 wickets. It was the only time that they had reached the final. They had played semi-final two more times under the captaincy of Alex Blackwell. With the wining percentage of 56, they had won 41 out of 72 matches in the last 5 years. Rachael Haynes will continue her reign as the skipper of the side this year as well.

Played- 72, Won- 41, Loss- 30, NR/Tie- 1, Win%- 56. 94

Best Result: Champion (2015/2016)

Women’s Big Bash League-05 result: 6th

Last Year, Thunders ended in the 6th position, winning 5 out of their 14 matches. The modest performances from the batters didn’t help the cause. They struggled with the opening, and middle-order didn’t live up to the expectation.

Women’s Big Bash League 06 Team Analysis:

Thunders didn’t have a memorable outing last year and they ended in the bottom half. However, to increase their woes their two trusted generals, Alex Blackwell and Rene Ferrel have taken retirement from all forms of cricket and their departure will be hard to fill in for the inaugural champions. Blackwell has been the pillar of the middle order for the last 5 season for Sydney Thunder and she has amassed 1792 runs, highest for them. Apart from the runs younger players find a central figure in her whom they can look up to.

Her presence helped the players like Phoebe Litchfield, who is moving up fast. On the other hand, they will miss Rene Ferrel in the seam bowling department. This veteran fast bowler had claimed 79 scalps and set up the victories for the Thunders. Apart from these two, Rachael Priest and Naomi Stalenberg have scrapped their loyalty and moved to Hobart. Priest has been the go-to person in the top order while Stalenberg along with Harmanpreet Kaur and Alex Blackwell took care of the middle order. Priest and Stalenberg had accumulated 296 and 200 runs respectively in the last season.

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In this condition, Rachael Haynes who has been in good touch for the national side will look to rectify her form from the last season. She had only scored 166 runs in 12 innings. She has batted in the middle order in the national colour in T20’s and has established herself as a dependable one. In recent times we have seen her open the batting in the longer formats for Australia as well. Now in absence of the top three batters from the last season, she needs to take more responsibilities and play a crucial role, being one of the senior members of the side. A lot of will depend on the opening partnership with their new inclusion Tammy Beaumont.

Rachel Haynes
Rachel Haynes ©Matt King/Getty Images

Sydney Thunder coach Trevor Griffin said that without the stalwarts of the game, his side lacked the experience so they had decided to bring in some overseas experience to support the skipper, Haynes. Griffin has won two KIA Super League Title with West Storm in England and asked Heather Knight to join the Thunders. So, Thunders has included two English batters in form of Heather Knight and Tammy Beaumont to strengthen their batting order, which otherwise in the very young side.

Beaumont was the part of Melbourne Renegades last year and  England captain Knight previously played for and captained the Hobart Hurricanes. While Beaumont will go for the blast at the beginning of the innings, the inclusion of Knight will fulfil the gap in the middle order. While Knight topped the batting chart of Hobart with 282 runs with 2 half-centuries, Beaumont scored 277 runs for the Renegades.

Sammy Jo-Johnson has moved to Sydney Thunder this year from Brisbane Heats. Johnson was one of those 4 Heat’s bowlers who have taken more than 50 wickets in the tournament. Her medium pace in the initial or in the dying overs turned out to be crucial while her hitting capabilities in the lower order made her the deadliest prospect in the shortest format of the game. Her experience can turn out to be fruitful among the bunch of young players.

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Sammy Jo-Johnson will boost the Thunders in bowling departments along with Shabnim Ismail. The South African seamer in one of the fastest in the world and her abilities to hit the deck hard along with her swinging deliveries is a nightmare for the batters. Her effectiveness will allow Haynes to use her whenever the team needs the service. While Jo Johnson picked up 18 wickets for the Heats last year and played an instrumental role for their successive victory, Ismail’s economy was 5.88 last season with 13 wickets.

While we may see Heather Knight rolling her arms, here and there, in the spin bowling department, Sam Bates and Lauren Smith need to share the load. Left-arm spinner Sam Bates will be joined by off-spinning all-rounder Lauren Smith has arrived looking for greater opportunities after playing in two titles for the Sydney Sixers. Bates picked up 15 wickets last season and has the lowest economy rates along with Shabnim Ismail. Young gun, Saskia Horley will be looking for the longer run.

“The plus side is what we might lack in some experience in terms of the competition, they bring in hunger and their desire to want to play,” Griffin told cricket.com.au of the Thunder’s youngsters. In total, the Thunder have eight players aged 20 or younger.

Saskia Horley, Anika Learoyd, Phoebe Litchfield,  Hannah Darlington, Rachel Trenaman, Tahlia Wilson, the young brigade will be joined by another pair of young players in form of Kate Peterson and Olivia Porter. Among them only two players, Phoebe Litchfield and Darlington have the experience of playing the WBBL in the previous season.

Phoebe Litchfield
Phoebe Litchfield ©Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

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.

Anika Learoyd 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.

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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. 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.


As the coach has pointed out the inexperience, the apparent weakness can turn out to be the strength of the side. Thunders has a good mix of seasoned and younger players. While the top order looks solid on the paper, the middle order can play handy roles like domestic matches. With Sammy Jo Johnson and Shabnim Ismail along with Darlington, the pace attack look threatening.


The spin bowling, without any big names, can e area of concern for the Sydney Thunder. Sam Bates has picked up  15 wickets last season, but she needs to be supported well. The young guns have done reasonably well in the domestic circuit, which earned them the spot to rub the shoulders with the bests of the world. However, WBBL is a different ball game and their lesser game experience can turn out to be vital. Thunders need to nurture them carefully to bring out best of them.

WBBL 06 Squad of Sydney Thunder:

Rachael Haynes (C, Aus), Tammy Beaumont (Eng), Heather Knight (Eng), Shabnim Ismail (SA), Sam Bates, Hannah Darlington, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Saskia Horley, Anika Learoyd, Phoebe Litchfield, Kate Peterson, Olivia Porter, Lauren Smith, Rachel Trenaman, Tahlia Wilson


Heather Knight (Hurricanes), Tammy Beaumont (Renegades), Sammy-Jo Johnson (Heat), Anika Learoyd, Olivia Porter, Lauren Smith (Sixers)


Rachel Priest (Hurricanes), Alex Blackwell, Rene Farrell (both retired), Lisa Griffith (Sixers), Naomi Stalenberg (Hurricanes), Nida Dar

Key Players:

Rachael Haynes, Tammy Beaumont, Heather Knight, Shabnim Ismail, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Phoebe Litchfield, Hannah Darlington

Probable XI:

Rachael Haynes (C), Tammy Beaumont, Heather Knight, Phoebe Litchfield, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Tahlia Wilson, Anika Learoyd, Sam Bates, Lauren Smith, Hannah Darlington, Shabnim Ismail


October 25: vs Sixers, North Sydney Oval

October 26: vs Stars, North Sydney Oval

October 31: vs Strikers, Showground Stadium

November 1: vs Heat, Showground Stadium

November 4: vs Scorchers, Blacktown International Sports Park

November 7: vs Renegades, Hurstville Oval

November 8: vs Hurricanes, Hurstville Oval

November 11: vs Heat, Blacktown International Sports Park

November 14: vs Stars, Showground Stadium

November 15: vs Scorchers, Showground Stadium

November 17: vs Renegades, Blacktown International Sports Park

November 18: vs Sixers, Blacktown International Sports Park

November 21: vs Strikers, Drummoyne Oval

November 22: vs Hurricanes, Drummoyne Oval



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