This article was written by Kristy Williams.
After coming within a whisker of a maiden Grand Final, the Melbourne Renegades will be out for revenge in WBBL05. There are a couple of big omissions from last season, with young speedster Tayla Vlaeminck off to Hobart and skipper Amy Satterthwaite off to have a baby. Their loss will be offset somewhat by the addition of English opener Tammy Beaumont, but they’ll be relying on their stingy bowling line-up to keep up with the top teams. How much of a loss will the veteran skipper be in the field?
Batters: Tammy Beaumont, Jess Duffin, Danni Wyatt, Courtney Webb
Allrounders: Makinley Blows, Claire Koski, Sophie Molineux
Wicketkeepers: Josie Dooley, Erica Kershaw
Bowlers: Maitlan Brown, Carly Leeson, Molly Strano, Courtney Neale, Lea Tahuhu, Georgia Wareham
Ins: Josie Dooley (Heat), Tammy Beaumont (Eng), Makinley Blows (Stars), Carly Leeson (Sixers), Courtney Neale (Cricket Victoria) | Outs: Tayla Vlaeminck (Hurricanes), Amy Satterthwaite (maternity); Emma Inglis (omitted), Anna Lanning (omitted), Zoe Cooke (omitted)
Best XI: Wyatt, Beaumont, Molineux, Duffin (c), Koski, Kershaw (k), Dooley, Brown, Strano, Wareham, Tahuhu
Last season (WBBL04)
The poor Renegades were a mere 1 centimetre off a Grand Final appearance. Who could forget that desperate Erin Burns dive than denied Sophie Molineux! They were never going to beat the Sixers in the Super Over after that, but you absolutely would consider their season a success. Strano and Wareham were easily the best spin duo in the competition, papering over the cracks of a batting group that was more adept at patiently building a score than smashing sixes (the entire side had less than half the amount Sophie Devine had on her own). An even side, who got valuable contributions from many- an admirable trait.
MVP: Mollie Strano: 15 matches, 51.5 overs, 19 wickets @ 17.52, ER: 6.42, BB: 4/21.
Sophie Molineux was terrific with bat and ball towards the end of WBBL04, but it was Strano, whose miserly offspinners took 19 wickets, who was the Renegades most valuable player from WBBL04. Often opening the bowling, Strano constantly probed the stumps, and as a result, the most runs she conceded in an innings was 29.
The line-up is steady, if unspectacular, and the lack of genuine power hitters stands out. Wyatt can be explosive, but has lacked consistency in the past. Perhaps her recent performances in the Kia Super League have assuaged those fears. Her Vipers opening partner Beaumont won’t quite make up for losing Satterthwaite (though what a coup for the Satterhuhu family!) as she is more of an accumulator. Much will rest on the shoulders of Molineux, and hopefully that oft injured shoulder holds up. Koski and Kershaw have been in solid form for the Meteors, but after prioritising AFLW it remains to be seen how consistent the new skipper Duffin can be. She only managed just over a run a ball in WBBL04. Dooley is another middle-order accumulator, but a hugely promising youngster.
In Tahuhu and Wareham, the Renegades boast two of the four bowlers who finished with an economy rate of less than six RPO in WBBL04. The former is one of the few bowlers to ever have Meg Lanning’s measure through her extreme pace and accuracy; while the latter is a stump-to-stump legspinner. Strano usually opens the bowling with Tahuhu and her offspinners are fantastic at building pressure, while Brown’s medium pacers continue to come on in leaps and bounds. Molineux was very expensive last year, and the ‘Gades will be hoping she brings her Ashes form.
They lack the eye-catching fielding exploits other sides might have, but Strano and Wareham are very reliable in the ring, and capable of affecting a few run-outs. Kershaw, Dooley and Beaumont can all keep, though the latter is probably more effective in the deep, like her English compatriot Wyatt, who is quick on the boundary.
Hobbled once again by a shoulder injury, Sophie Molineux returned during the Ashes and claimed a remarkable 4-95 in the test that ensured Australia would retain the Ashes. She looked threatening every over in an otherwise dull match, and added a vital 62 runs as well. Despite another frustrating injury setback, she will be vital for the top order, and was a matchwinner towards the end of WBBL04. She can hit 360 degrees, and provides a valuable point of difference for the three-pronged spin attack.
After a couple of match-winning knocks for the Heat in their Championship season, Josie Dooley makes the move down south to shore up the middle order for the ‘Gades. There is plenty of improvement left in the 19 year old, who will be in competition for Kershaw for the gloves- but that doesn’t mean she won’t contribute late in the innings. Great at manipulating the field, the youngster shows maturity beyond her years.
Heart & soul
For every Victorian and Renegades side she has been a part of, Molly Strano has been the glue holding it together. Her bubbly exterior masks a fierce competitiveness, and you know that in all three disciplines, whenever she steps on the field, you will get nothing less than 110% from the proud Victorian.
Ready to explode:
By no means did Danni Wyatt have a poor season in WBBL04- far from it. She does however, have another gear and another layer of consistency that could be the difference between finals and failure for the Renegades. She would love to improve on her strike-rate of 111 from last season, and during the recent Kia Super League she showed signs that she’ll knock that number out of the park. Wyatt topped the runscorer list, and pocketed the Player of the Tournament award, after scoring 466 runs @ 42 with an average strike-rate of 166.
With the competition as open as it has ever been, a lot will have to go right for the Renegades to return to the finals. Often affected by injury, the ‘Gades look short for power with bat in hand, and their depth will be severely tested if one of their top order goes down. That said, they will undoubtedly be aiming for the top, and the pain of defeat could drive them a long way when it counts.