20/05/2024
The Sydney Sixers are set for another big season in WBBL|07.

The Sydney Sixers are set for another big season in WBBL|07. Image: Cricket.com.au

The Sydney Sixers are primed for WBBL|07, and will be looking to return to the finals for the first time in three seasons.

The Sydney Sixers struggled in WBBL|06, but will be hoping to turn it around with a number of key additions ahead of the new season.

The Sydney Sixers enter WBBL|07 full of hope that the early form they showed last season will carry forward, and with the new star-studded lineup, that a return to the finals for the first time in three seasons is on the cards.

Ben Sawyer returns as coach for his seventh season, and Ellyse Perry returns as captain for the seventh time. The leadership duo will be hoping to return the club to its esteemed heights, having won two titles, and been in two additional finals campaigns.

Last Season:

Last season, the Sixers missed the finals, finishing fifth on run rate differential. It was the second consecutive season they missed the finals, after making the finals in each of the competition’s first four editions.

The Sixers started the season well, with two washouts and three wins from their first five games. Following that however, the Sixers lost six of the remaining eight matches, including a streak of five in a row, put paid to that strong start.

The Sixers’ season ended with a bang, as they successfully chased down a massive score of 4/178 set by the Melbourne Stars. It was the equal highest successful run chase in WBBL history, but it wasn’t enough to lift the Sixers into the finals.

Alyssa Healy was pivotal with 111 from just 52 balls, and a late cameo from Angela Reakes who scored 21 off just 12 balls late in the innings. Under the Duckworth Lewis system, the Sixers were victorious with two balls remaining to end their season on a positive note, despite missing finals.

Squad:

Ellyse Perry (c), Jade Allen, Nicole Bolton, Maitlan Brown, Erin Burns, Stella Campbell, Lauren Cheatle, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Emma Hughes, Angela Reakes, Hayler Silver-Holmes, Matilda Lugg, Radha Yadav (India), Shafali Verma (India).

Big Inclusion:

The biggest inclusion for the Sixers is the ICC world No 1 ranked T20I player, Shafali Verma. The Indian superstar was the youngest player to debut for India in 2019, aged just 15. Since then, the precocious batter has gone from strength to strength, scoring 191 runs across the recent multi-format series against Australia.

Verma averages 25.44 with the bat in T20Is across her career, with a strike rate of 142.53, putting her in the upper echelon of female cricketers in the world. While her average is slightly lower in Australia, at 22.07, her strike rate is almost identical on Australian pitches, at 142.78.

The other rising Indian star that the Sixers have signed is Radha Yadav. In her young career she has played almost 50 T20Is for India, and has an economy rate of less than a run a ball. As a left arm spinner, her different angle and guile could prove valuable for the Sixers as they chase

Who’s Missing?

The Sixers faced significant turnover at the end of last season, as they sought to arrest a poor two years. Sarah Aley retired, and fellow bowlers Lisa Griffith and Jodie Hicks were also not retained.

From the batting side, Maddy Darke was not retained, while international all rounders Marizanne Kapp and Dane van Niekerk have moved WBBL clubs to the Perth Scorchers and Adelaide Strikers respectively.

Kapp and Van Niekerk brought significant experience to the side, and their international experience and nous will be tough to replace for the young Indian duo who have filled their shoes as international marquee players.

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Wildcard Player:

Experienced allrounder Erin Burns poses as a wildcard for the Sixers. A talented batter, and a cunning offspinner, Burns is known for complementary cricket, mixing her allround talents with elite fielding. After spending last year in the United Kingdom to play The Hundred, Burns can be expected to have picked up a few tricks for the death and will add a new dimension to the Sixers if she gets going.

Burns will miss the opening rounds of the tournament to be with her pregnant wife Anna, who is expecting the couple’s first child in coming months. It is not clear when Burns will rejoin the team, but it is expected to be fairly soon, following a stint in hotel quarantine.

Rookie to Watch:

HSC student Claire Moore was a late addition to the squad. After Hayley Silver-Holmes was ruled out for the tournament with an injury, Moore was added, and will provide batting depth. A childhood teammate of Silver-Holmes, Moore was the leading run-scorer in NSW Women’s Premier Cricket in 2020-21. The 17 year old will be looking to soak up as much as she can from Perry, Healy, Ash Gardner and the other stars of the Sixers.

Honourable mentions also go to Jade Allen, Matilda Lugg and Silver-Holmes. Allen, a young leg spinner, has signed a two year deal with the Sixers, and will likely support Yadav as the leading legspinner. Lugg will provide wicketkeeper depth for the Sixers behind Healy, and will be looking to learn from her idol in her first season with the Sixers.

Squad Strengths:

The Sixers have elite level batting depth in spades in the top and middle orders. With Verma and Healy, the Sixers have a top order that would be the envy of the league. The international players have shown their ability to devastate an innings, and will be hoping to get the Sixers off to a strong start each time.

Slightly further down the order, Ellyse Perry, Ash Gardner, Nicole Bolton and Angela Reakes provide middle order depth as strong as any side in the WBBL. Perry had multiple 50s in WBBL|06, while Gardner’s talent has been on show in the recent multi-format series against India.

Reakes and Burns have shown the destructive ability to end an innings in a firestorm, with Reakes showing it during WBBL|06, and Burns recently in The Hundred. If the Sixers keep wickets in hand, between the middle order and the finishers, they should be able to accelerate late in the innings to post or chase big totals.

Squad Weaknesses:

After the departures last season, the bowling experience is somewhat lacking. With a young spearhead in Stella Campbell leading an inexperienced attack, the Sixers do not have the same depth they had late last season, and no international spearhead, like Aley provided last year. While Perry and Emma Hughes provide some experience, heavy reliance on Campbell will allow for her growth, but also poses a risk for the Sixers.

While Yadav, Allen and Maitlan Brown all ooze talent, they do not necessarily yet have the experience to be sure of how they will handle the high pressure bowling at the depth.

Predicted XI:

  1. Shafali Verma
  2. Alyssa Healy (wk)
  3. Ellyse Perry (c)
  4. Ash Gardner
  5. Erin Burns / Claire Moore
  6. Nicole Bolton
  7. Angela Reakes
  8. Maitlan Brown
  9. Stella Campbell
  10. Emma Hughes
  11. Radha Yadav

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