WBBL|07 Season Preview – Melbourne Renegades: New-look squad seeing red for redemption

WBBL Melbourne Renegades Season Preview
The Melbourne Renegades will be hoping for a better season in WBBL|07. (Photo: Cricket Australia)

After missing finals last season, the Melbourne Renegades will be searching for a better performance, though will be required to juggle many list changes ahead of the start of their WBBL|07 campaign.

The changes to the Renegades’ WBBL|07 setup has begun from the top, with former men’s inaugural coach Simon Helmot taking charge of the team and Renegades stalwart, all-rounder Sophie Molineux taking the reigns as captain.

Bolstered by some international stars from India in Harmanpreet Kaur and Jemimah Rodrigues, and Eve Jones from England, the Renegades will look to contest well and improve on last season’s seventh-placed finish to make an attempt at claiming a maiden WBBL title.

Last Season:

The Renegades spent all of last season in a biosecurity bubble in Sydney due to the COVID-19 limitations in Melbourne, and thus never played a game in their home state. This in turn seemingly affected the team as they fell to their lowest finish since WBBL|02 – seventh – and missed finals for the first time in three years.

Winning just four of 12 completed games for the season – including a super-over victory against cross-town rivals, the Stars -, the Renegades would complete the regular season with the second-worst net run rate, and only two points clear of the eighth-placed Hurricanes on the ladder.

Across WBBL|06, the Renegades were dealt many blows in the lead-up to, and during the season, including captain Jess Duffin stepping away following the birth of her first child. First-choice bowling options Maitlin Brown and Georgia Wareham suffered season-ending injuries five and seven games into the season, respectively prompting a shuffle of the lineup and the need to bring in cover.

Nonetheless, the Renegades found strength in their batting through South African import Lizelle Lee, who topped the run tally in her first season the club, scoring 261 runs for the season including 79 off 45 balls in the win against the Sydney Sixers late in the campaign.

All-rounders Carly Leeson and Sophie Molineux each lead the club in wickets, each of them taking 11 wickets and finishing with an economy rate of 7.00.

Squad:

Sophie Molineux (c), Georgia Wareham, Eve Jones (England), Harmanpreet Kaur (India), Jemimah Rodrigues (India), Makinley Blows, Josie Dooley, Jess Duffin, Ellen Falconer, Holly Ferling, Poppy Gardner, Ella Hayward, Carly Leeson, Rhiann O’Donnell, Courtney Webb

Big Inclusion:

India’s T20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur looms as the biggest signing for the Melbourne Renegades ahead of WBBL|07 and is one of a few Indian players who have previous experience in the competition under their belt. Kaur had spent three seasons with the Sydney Thunder from WBBL|02 to WBBL|04, the all-rounder playing 35 matches and impressing with both the bat and ball.

In 32 innings, Kaur averaged 35.65 runs at a strike rate of 116.89 with a high score of 64* – one of three times she celebrated the half-century. With the ball, she took 12 wickets across 14 innings, with an economy rate of 7.53 and best-figures of 3/18 against the Melbourne Stars in WBBL|03.

Former captain Jess Duffin also returns to the side after spending a season out following the birth of her first child. Having spent four years in the WBBL (one year with the Stars and three years at the Renegades) from WBBL|02 to WBBL|05, Duffin will slot right back into the team’s starting 11.

Across 51 WBBL matches, Duffin has been at the crease 49 times and averages 32.33 with the bat with a strike rate of 113.92 and a highest score of 81 against the Sydney Thunder in WBBL|03. Already showcasing her batting capabilities in previous seasons, her latest turn with the Renegades in WBBL|05, she was the league’s third-highest run-scorer, scoring 544 runs at an average of 68.00 and was presented the club’s Player of the Season award.

Who’s Missing?

The WBBL’s leading wicket-taker Molly Strano has left the team she’s been a part of since inception, going south to Tasmania to play with the Hobart Hurricanes (and the Tasmanian Tigers in the WNCL).

The off-spinner, who hasn’t missed a game in the WBBL for the Renegades since their first game of WBBL|01, Strano has netted 104 wickets across 85 games, holding an economy rate of 6.53.

After five years with the Renegades, fast bowler Maitlin Brown has made the move to the Sydney Sixers for WBBL|07, and like Strano, it coincides with her return to the WNCL’s NSW Breakers.

After not featuring in the final nine matches of the team’s WBBL|06 campaign after suffering a hamstring injury, claiming 44 wickets in 59 matches across her WBBL career, Brown will be missed by the Renegades.

Last season’s captain, New Zealand international Amy Satterthwaite, along with her countrywoman pace bowler Lea Tahuhu and wicketkeeper/batter Lizelle Lee are among the players who won’t be returning to Melbourne either this season. All-rounder Erin Fazackerley and fast bowler Courtney Neale weren’t offered contracts for the new season, also.

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Wildcard Player:

Jemimah Rodrigues is a welcome addition to the Renegades lineup, the Indian batter cementing her place on the world stage with a breakout campaign in The Hundred earlier this year.

The 21-year-old is one of the world’s rising stars and in seven innings of The Hundred, Rodrigues scored 249 runs – 10 fewer runs than the leader, South African Dane van Niekirk who had played two games more than Rodrigues.

Rodrigues began the tournament off with a blistering 92 off 43 balls to guide the Northern Superchargers to victory in their first game of the tournament, the opener taking control when the side was down 4/19, chasing 131.

Rookie to Watch:

Ella Hayward looms as a good chance to nail down a spot in the Renegades’ starting 11 more this season with the departure of fellow off-spinner Molly Strano. The 18-year-old played eight matches for the Renegades in her debut season last year and is set to take the next step in her game, and her career.

Across seven games where she was tasked with bowling, she was able to take five wickets, including a haul of 4/16 against the Melbourne Stars. Hayward had one chance to use the bat, making 12 runs from 17 balls against the Brisbane Heat.

Her promise as a developing off-spinner will compliment a Renegades lineup looking to cover holes but also to have as an option to continue to create eye-catching moments and performances for the club as seen throughout her first year in the red.

Squad Strengths:

The Renegade’s quality that shines throughout their top six batters is an enticing thought for the team, each having the ability to bat deep and for long periods of time. While it wasn’t always on show during WBBL|06, once the team gets going and gets into a rhythm, it could be a dangerous prospect, and a way to post, or chase down large totals.

The international imports in Harmanpreet Kaur and Jemimah Rodrigues from India, and Eve Jones from England will be lethal at the top of the order and set the framework for a Renegades lineup looking to make the most of their powerplays with each capable of big hits, and big scores.

Squad Weaknesses:

While the Renegades have added pace bowlers to their lineup in former Heat and Stars fast-medium quick Holly Ferling and medium pacer Ellen Falconer, they might still feel the brunt of quality losses in that department from previous seasons and the change it brings.

Lea Tahuhu and Maitin Brown fronted the attack for the team last season but with their departures now, it leaves the new additions to the squad needing to step up, and in their first seasons with the Renegades, might first struggle to adjust to a new team in the opening stages of the tournament. Harmanpreet Kaur has shown her capability with the ball and would be good for a couple of overs a game too.

The Renegades have plenty of spin options in Sophie Molineux, Georgia Wareham, Carly Leeson and Ella Hayward leading the charge, but can’t rely on them for the bulk of the overs, needing to remain wary of the low number of quicks at their disposal, and the priority to also use them.

Predicted XI:

1. Eve Jones

2. Sophie Molineux (c)

3. Jemimah Rodrigues

4. Harmanpreet Kaur

5. Courtney Webb

6. Jess Duffin

7. Georgia Wareham

8. Josie Dooley (wk)

9. Carly Leeson

10. Holly Ferling

11. Ellen Falconer

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About Jason Irvine 139 Articles
Jason is a sports journalist for The Inner Sanctum, based in Melbourne. They primarily focus on baseball, softball and Aussie Rules with an interest in cricket, basketball and netball also. They enjoy covering stories not just from Australia but takes delight in highlighting the successes of athletes worldwide as well.

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