Can the Sydney Thunder overcome their worst finish to a WBBL tournament? (Photo: Sydney Thunder; Design: Will Cuckson)

After recording their worst finish in WBBL history, the Sydney Thunder will be looking to redeem themselves after finishing the season in seventh as the WBBL|06 defending champions.

Without key players Heather Knight, Tammy Beaumont and Shabnim Ismail, the Thunder failed to replicate the magic of the season prior in their absence, only able to manage just four wins for the entire season.

Having once again lost key players during the off-season, the Thunder look to be in for another tough tournament.

Last season:

Having been crowned champions in WBBL|06, last season was a stark contrast as the franchise struggled for most of the season. Without their key stars, signs were ominous early for the Thunder, and eventually what played out was their worst season in their WBBL history.

The aforementioned English duo of Knight and Beaumont didn’t recommit, having been key components to the side’s success due to being away on international duty. They’d be handed another blow before the season kick-off, with South African marquee Ismail pulling out due to injury.

To make matters worse, their leader and championship-winning captain Rachael Haynes missed the entirety of the season last summer due to an ankle injury and pandemic border restrictions following the birth of her first child.

Lacking firepower, the Thunder recruited Indian batter Smriti Mandhana, who was stellar in her return to the WBBL. She’d make 377 runs in 13 appearances for the side, leading the way on the batting front as the side’s top scorer while Phoebe Litchfield was also solid with 263 runs.

On the bowling front, youngster Hannah Darlington and Indian marquee Deepti Sharma led the wicket-taking, recording 16 and 13 wickets respectively.


Samantha Bates, Hannah Darlington, Jess Davidson, Corinne Hall, Rachael Haynes, Anika Learoyd, Phoebe Litchfield, Olivia Porter, Lauren Smith, Tahlia Wilson, Tammy Beaumont (ENG), Chloe Tyron (RSA), Amy Jones (ENG)

Big inclusion:

In a late coup just days out from the season starting, the Thunder have signed acting English captain Amy Jones to strengthen their batting line-up.

Jones has been a regular behind the wickets across all formats since 2018 and was given the nod as national captain while Knight was injured and Nat Sciver was on a break from cricket.

She’ll likely be the first-choice keeper for the Thunder in the WBBL|08 campaign while shoring up the middle order with her depth of experience.

Jones is fresh off a mixed T20I and ODI series against India, where she hit 28 off 50 balls and 39 off 51 balls in the last two one-day matches.

While her batting form was spotty in the T20 matches, she had also been performing strongly with the bat for the Birmingham Phoenix in The Hundred.

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Who’s missing?

The Indian duo of Mandhana and Sharma didn’t re-sign for WBBL|08, with the former set to miss the tournament entirely.

They were both shining lights in what was a down season for the Thunder, and they will be sorely missed.

English international Issy Wong is another notable omission, having shown signs of promise last season, while Kate Peterson has joined the Sydney Sixers.

Wildcard player:

Having shown encouraging signs across her first two WBBL seasons, batter Phoebe Litchfield could break out in the upcoming campaign.

Having made 623 in 38 WBBL matches thus far and having put in a modest season for New South Wales in the batting last summer, Litchfield should be expected to have more of an impact with their top run scorers departing.

Rookie to watch:

The youngest player in the squad aged 19, Jessica Davidson will be looking to have an impact in what will be her first season in the WBBL after not registering an appearance in WBBL|07.

The quick bowler is one of the best young bowling prospects in the country, having been a part of the NSW pathways program for the past four years. She is a two-time recipient of NSW Cricket’s Basil Sellers scholarship, whose alumni includes Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy and Ashleigh Gardner.

With Darlington set to miss the early part of the season with a knee injury, Davidson should get ample opportunity to shine in the upcoming campaign.

Squad strengths:

The Thunder’s bowling will be their biggest strength, with Sydney forming a line-up of Sam Bates, Hannah Darlington, Jessica Davidson and Lauren Smith.

Darlington is the standout of the bunch, with the 20-year-old coming off an incredible season in which she led the side for wickets taken with 16 wickets, the equal fourth most in the competition.

She was also named in the WBBL|07 team of the season, with a best outing of 3/21 for the tournament.

Bates will once again line up for the Thunder and will bring valuable experience to the side. She’s been part of the franchise since WBBL|02 and was brilliant on the bowling front in their championship win two seasons ago.

In addition to boasting one of the best economy rates in the squad, Bates has had no issues finding the wickets in the past, recording 83 wickets in her 88 career total WBBL games.

The aforementioned Davidson and Smith will also be a threat to opposition batters and should continue their development this tournament.

Squad weaknesses:

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

Without their two of their top leading run-scorers from the WBBL|07 season in Mandhana and Sharma, the Thunder’s batting ranks have taken a hit.

Though the return of their captain Haynes and retaining Litchfield – who stepped up last season scoring 263 runs – will provide some firepower, the Thunder have done very little to remedy their batting woes from last season and find replacements for their departing run leaders.

Predicted XI:

  1. Rachael Haynes
  2. Phoebe Litchfield
  3. Tammy Beaumont
  4. Amy Jones
  5. Anika Learoyd
  6. Jess Davidson
  7. Corinne Hall
  8. Olivia Porter
  9. Lauren Smith
  10. Hannah Darlington
  11. Samantha Bates

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