24/04/2024

After three wooden spoons in four seasons, can the Hurricanes bounce back and be a finals threat? (Photo: Hobart Hurricanes)

After three wooden spoons in four seasons, a huge squad turnover could see the Tassie breeze pick up into gale force winds for the Hobart Hurricanes in WBBL|07.

It’s been four years to forget for the Hobart Hurricanes, adding three wooden spoons to the cabinet since WBBL|03.

Over that time, the team from Tasmania has managed just nine wins from 49 results, the worst record of any side. It hasn’t been a pleasant half-decade for Tassie cricket fans.

However, with big name recruits, experienced campaigners, national expertise, and rising young talent, the doom and gloom is beginning to fade.

There’s been a lot of turnover already, even since WBBL|06. Eight new players make their way into the squad of 15, for a team that’s refreshed and aiming to shake the demons of the past.

With at least the first 20 matches of the season set to take place on home turf, the Hurricanes have prime opportunity to strike hard and fast and get this season off to flyer.

Are the winds swirling once again around Blundstone Arena? The Inner Sanctum previews the Hobart Hurricanes’ WBBL|07 campaign.

Last Season:

WBBL|06 resulted in another dismal last place (eighth) finish for the Hurricanes.

There were some truly miserable results for the girls in purple in their last campaign. Their first game of the year against the Adelaide Strikers saw them out for just 84 runs after 16.3 overs, with young talent Darcie Brown bowling 3/13 off four overs.

It took the Strikers just 14 overs to chase the trivial total while only losing two batters.

That similar story repeated too many times, going 9/89 against the Melbourne Stars, out for 82 after 17.5 overs against the Heat, and 77 after 16.4 overs against the Strikers.

The Hurricanes showed flashes of what they could do at their best in the game against the Melbourne Renegades at Blacktown International Sportspark.

Fielding first, they bowled their best game of the season, downing the last of the Renegades with just one ball left to go in their innings. Nicola Carey bowled 3/14 across 3.5 overs, while four of the seven bowlers used had economy rates of four or under.

Rachel Priest and Naomi Stalenberg cruised along with an easy partnership after that, the opening pair hitting 12 fours off 71 balls faced.

With just three wins though, those performances were few and far between. Priest’s addition to the top of the order was a highlight, and the experienced New Zealander will be looked to again in WBBL|07.

Squad:

Nicola Carey, Maisy Gibson, Rachel Priest (New Zealand), Chloe Rafferty, Naomi Stalenberg, Amy Smith, Molly Strano, Belinda Vakarewa, Tayla Vlaeminck, Mignon du Preez (South Africa), Rachel Trenaman, Sasha Moloney, Ruth Johnston, Angelina Genford, Richa Ghosh (India).

Big Inclusion:

Molly Strano, just. It’s hard to split between the star spin bowler and experienced batter Mignon du Preez, given the struggles of the Hurricanes with both bat and ball in WBBL|06.

Still, you can’t go past the addition of the competition’s leading wicket taker into a side that took an average of just under four wickets per game in their last outing.

The only thing that might be better than Strano’s ability to make the ball move exactly how she wants is her fielding skills. Expect to see plenty of diving catches in WBBL|07, Hurricanes fans.

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The Hurricanes struggled to build momentum tearing through batting orders, with Hayley Matthews (departed for Wales), Nicola Carey, and Amy Smith the only bowlers regularly claiming multiple wickets.

Combining Smith’s leg spin, Strano’s off-spin, and Carey’s pace bowling, the Hurricanes suddenly boast a much more well-rounded group of bowling talent.

Who’s Missing?

Captain Corinne Hall’s departure to the Sydney Thunder will sting for a while. The inaugural Hurricane and Tassie local accepted a one-year deal in New South Wales, departing after six campaigns in purple.

Hall departs Tasmania after 12 years playing in the state, with the Tasmanian Tigers and the Hurricanes.

The all-rounder’s strength is in her batting, but has been utilised as a handy off-break bowler when required. She’s no stranger to a serious hanger of a catch either.

Hall’s versatility in a number of different roles will be missed, but with a slew of all-rounders already, the Hurricanes will hope she doesn’t leave too big a gap in the side.

The leadership void hasn’t yet been filled, with no captain named. With a number of players with international experience, the Hurricanes shouldn’t struggle to find a new leader.

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Wildcard Player:

Look out for teenage Indian recruit Richa Ghosh in the middle order after a strong ODI series with India against Australia in Mackay.

Totals of 44 off 50 balls and 32* showed off the right hander’s ability to shore up the middle and bottom orders.

She debuted in India’s T20 World Cup side at just 16-years-old last year, also taking part in the Tri-Nations series later in that same January.

Ghosh was also a wall behind the wicket in the ODI series, catching Meg Lanning for a duck.

Rookie to Watch:

The youngest ever player to debut in List A cricket, Amy Smith will once again be a player to watch with ball in hand.

She’ll celebrate her 17th birthday just days before the Hurricanes’ second last game of the regular season.

Her most recent campaign with Tasmania probably didn’t go as seamlessly as she might have wanted, failing to take a wicket in six matches.

However, the signs of the leggie’s brilliance shone through as brightly as ever.

In the second outing against Western Australia, she bowled 4/27 off her seven overs for an economy of 3.85, while finding 19 runs of her own.

Smith won the Tasmanian Female Young Player Award before the start of WBBL|06, taking the award out two years in a row.

One of the state’s best young bowling talents, watch for the teenager to take another step up and find her consistency this season.

Squad Strengths:

The addition of du Preez suddenly turns a team that struggled to put up runs into one of the most dangerous top orders in the league.

A long time leader, she holds the 18th most career runs in T20 internationals, has played 108 T20I matches, and has put up seven half centuries.

Playing for the Stars in WBBL|06, she put up some truly impressive totals at the top of the order including 61 off 51 balls against the Strikers, 57* off 37 balls against the Thunder, and 51 off 38 balls against the Heat.

Alongside Priest’s totals from the last campaign including 83* off 64 balls, 92* off 63 balls, and 42 off 37 balls, the two will no doubt start off every innings with at least the threat of a strong partnership where the boundaries roll in quick.

Moving down into the middle order with the likes of Nicola Carey and young Indian international Richa Ghosh, expect significantly bigger targets from the Hurricanes in WBBL|07.

Squad Weaknesses:

Outside of the likely starting XI, the Hurricanes lack bowling depth.

Three of the four players leftover in the current squad are all-rounders, with another pace bowler in Chloe Rafferty backing up the speed that Carey and Vakarewa provide.

It’s a fairly young squad as well, with a lot of the leadership stacked in the opening batters. If du Preez, Carey, and Priest are dismissed early, the Hurricanes could find opposition bowlers ripping through the remainder of the order.

Best XI:

  1. Rachel Trenamen
  2. Rachel Priest
  3. Nicola Carey
  4. Mignon du Preez
  5. Richa Ghosh
  6. Naomi Stalenberg
  7. Sasha Moloney
  8. Tayla Vlaeminck
  9. Belinda Vakarewa
  10. Molly Strano
  11. Amy Smith

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