20/04/2024

Adelaide Strikers look poised to bounce back in WBBL|07 (Photo: Adelaide Strikers)

After a disappointing season last year, the Adelaide Strikers will be looking to bounce back in the upcoming WBBL.

After finishing runners-up in the WBBL|06 of the Big Bash, the Strikers were unable to go one step further last season just narrowly missing out on the top four.

With the club’s captain and best player Sophie Devine departing to the Scorchers in the off-season, the Strikers were dealt another heavy blow in the opening game of the season with captain Suzie Bates ruled out of the tournament with an injured shoulder.

The Strikers struggled in her absence, but with a bolstered squad, the Strikers will looking to be one of the big improvers this season.

Last Season:

The Adelaide Strikers finished the WBBL|06 season outside of the top four winning just six games for the season. Failing to get out the gates strong, the Strikers won just one of their opening five games of the season which included a four-game winless run.

They’d have a sniff to make finals in the final two games of the season but a loss to the Sydney Thunder ensured the end to their season.

Adelaide’s best performance would come in the opening game of the season with a demolition over the Hobart Hurricanes. The Strikers were bowled out for just 86 runs as Darcie Brown took an impressive 3/13 to decimate the Canes line-up.

With Sophie Devine leaving in the off-season of 2020, the Strikers needed star power in the batting ranks and brought in South African international Laura Wolvaardt.

She’d score the most runs for the side with 347 runs with an average of 25 runs, while Katie Mack was solid finishing the season with 251 runs at an average of 18 runs.

On the bowling front, Sarah Coyte was the club’s leading wicket-taker taking 18 wickets while all-time leading Strikers wicket-taker Amanda-Jade Wellington was solid finishing the season with 17 wickets.

Squad:

Jemma Barsby, Nell Bryson-Smith, Darcie Brown, Sarah Coyte, Ellie Falconer, Katie Mack, Tahlia McGrath, Tegan McPharlin, Annie O’Neil, Bridget Patterson, Alex Price, Megan Schutt, Stafanie Taylor (West Indies), Amanda-Jade Wellington, Dané Van Niekerk (South Africa), Laura Wolvaardt (South Africa)

Big Inclusion:

South African women’s captain Dané Van Niekerk joined the South Australian outfit during the off-season, moving across from the Sydney Sixers where she was influential in helping the side achieve back-to-back championships in the WBBL|02 and WBBL|03 seasons.

A leg-spinner by trade, she has proved to be reliable with the bat as well, scoring 961 runs and taking 74 wickets since her first appearance in the WBBL in its inaugural season. Van Niekerk is one of the best all-round players in the competition and will prove to be important in helping the Strikers push for finals in the upcoming season.

Left-arm bowler Nell Bryson-Smith and all-rounder Jemma Barsby are also notable additions for the Strikers this season.

Who’s Missing?

Missing the finals last year has not deterred the playing squad, with most of the playing squad having re-signed for Adelaide in the past weeks.

The only omission so far is the New Zealand veteran Katie Perkins with the 33-year-old yet to re-sign to the Strikers having been called up as a top-up player last season.

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Wildcard Player:

Having played just the one game for the Strikers last season, Annie O’Neil could be poised for a breakout season in WBBL|07. The 21-year-old put in a modest season in the batting for South Australia last summer and should be expected to have more of an impact in the competition this year.

Rookie to Watch:

The youngest player in the squad aged 18, Darcie Brown will be looking to build on an encouraging first season in which she took 10 wickets.

The South Australian is one of the fastest bowlers in the state, and having represented the Australian U19s side at just age 15 and already part of the Australian national women’s team, there are big expectations for Brown.

Squad Strengths:

Adelaide’s bowling will be its biggest strength, with the Strikers boasting a solid line-up of bowlers in the side. The four main bowlers of Sarah Coyte, Amanda-Jade Wellington, Megan Schutt, and Darcie Brown should make for a formidable force.

While Sarah Coyte is the standout of the bunch, Wellington was impressive taking 17 wickets, including a 4/24 as her best performance for the season. With Coyte, Schutt, and Brown all pace bowlers, Wellington adds a different dimension bowling leg-spin.

Megan Schutt will once again line up for the Strikers and will bring valuable experience to the side having been part of the Strikers set up since WBBL|01.

In addition to boasting one of the best economy rates in the squad, Schutt has no issues finding the wickets in the past recording 74 wickets in her 85 career total WBBL games.

The aforementioned Darcie Brown will also be a threat to the opposition as one the fastest pace bowlers in the side.

Squad Weaknesses:

An obvious weakness heading into the new season is the Strikers batting with the side struggling to pile on the runs in the competition last season.

Without their two leading run-scorers in the WBBL|05 season in Sophie Devine and Suzie Bates, the Strikers’ batting ranks took a hit while other players’ season averages were below last season.

The most notable drop-off was from Bridget Patterson who made just 82 runs despite making an impressive 319 runs in WBBL|05, while Tahlia McGrath made 100 fewer runs last season than in WBBL|05.

Though South African Laura Wolvaardt was impressive and West Indie marquee Stafanie Taylor stepped up in the batting, the side was largely underwhelming though new recruit Dané Van Niekerk will look to remedy the batting issues in the upcoming season.

Predicted XI:

1. Tahlia McGrath

2. Katie Mack

3. Laura Wolvaardt

4. Stafanie Taylor

5. Bridget Patterson

5. Dané Van Niekerk

6. Annie O’Neil

7. Sarah Coyte

8. Amanda-Jade Wellington

9. Ellie Falconer

10. Megan Schutt

11. Darcie Brown

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