This article was written by Kristy Williams.
WBBL04 was another disappointing season for the Strikers, but with a new coach (former assistant coach Luke Williams) and several promising additions to the squad, things are looking up for this season. The recruitment of West Indian captain Stafanie Taylor, who is the third ranked All-Rounder in the ICC T20I Rankings, is a huge coup (when available) and the astute pickup of Katie Mack from the Stars provides the middle order with some much needed depth. In the past too much has been left on the shoulders of too few, but this Strikers squad now bats very deep in both disciplines and they are primed for a run at the trophy.
Batters: Katie Mack, Annie O’Neil, Bridget Patterson, Tabatha Saville, Lauren Winfield (replacement for Taylor)
Allrounders: Sophie Devine, Suzie Bates, Tahlia McGrath, Stafanie Taylor, Amanda-Jade Wellington
Wicketkeepers: Tegan McPharlin, Winfield
Bowlers: Darcie Brown, Sarah Coyte, Ellie Falconer, Alex Price, Megan Schutt
Ins: Katie Mack (Stars), Stafanie Taylor (Thunder), Darcie Brown (SACA), Lauren Winfield (Eng) | Outs: Danielle Hazell (Eng), Samantha Betts (Scorchers), Katelyn Pope (omitted), Eliza Doddridge (omitted)
Best XI: Bates (c), Devine, Taylor, McGrath, Patterson, Mack, Wellington, McPharlin (k), Coyte, Price, Schutt
Last season (WBBL04)
Inconsistency was once again the biggest problem with the Strikers. They managed a couple of good victories against lower placed teams, but their bowling attack struggled to contain the Heat, Sixers and Thunder. Devine and Bates stood head and shoulders above the rest, with a shaky middle order often struggling to back up their star opening pair.
MVP: Sophie Devine: 13 matches, 556 runs @ 46.33, SR: 136.60 with 55 fours & 19 sixes, HS: 99*. 14 wickets @ 21.71, ER: 8.85, BB: 5/41.
Statistics don’t always tell the story, but in this case- they do. Remarkably consistent in all 3 facets of the game, Devine was a matchwinner with both bat and ball, and the Kiwi also hit the most sixes in the competition
After both internal development and shrewd recruiting, the Strikers batting line-up is looking very strong. Taylor, Devine and Bates are all world class T20 strikers, and their contrasting styles will make life difficult for opposing captains. When Taylor is away on international duties, veteran English batter Winfield is a more than handy replacement. The middle order finally looks to have some power and backbone to it, with McGrath providing a swashbuckling presence (10 sixes last season), Patterson in fine form after the opening 2 rounds of the WNCL (159 runs, 16 fours, one six) and Mack a busy player, who thrives on rotating the strike. The tail has plenty of talent too, with Wellington, Coyte and Price all capable of quick cameos.
The Strikers will certainly rely on a committee approach to containing opposition teams this season, though they will be led by miserly spearhead Schutt, who never has a bad game. Devine can be expensive, but her ability to take key wickets is crucial while Coyte and McGrath will be relied on for their changes of pace. The spin department is small but extremely talented; Wellington spins the ball like no other leg spinner in the competition with exceptional control and Price uses her tall frame to challenge batters with flight.
Patterson, Mack, Bates and Devine are electric fielders, and the whole fielding unit boast strong arms from the outfield. Behind the stumps is where the issue lies for Adelaide, with a number of dropped stumpings and catches last year costing the bowling unit. Could part-time keeper Winfield be called upon when available?
Who else but Sophie Devine? She hits sixes, bowls fast and soothes us with her dulcet Kiwi tones while mic’ed up on the field. Less pressure is resting on her shoulders this year, so could we see an even better season from the dynamo who had three scores over 89 in WBBL04?
With a glut of bowling options, it’s unlikely Darcie Brown will get regular game time and that shouldn’t matter too much, given the tearaway quick is just 16 years of age. Hailing from Kapunda, north of Adelaide, Brown has already been identified by Cricket Australia and may one day challenge Tayla Vlaeminck for the title of Australia’s fastest bowler .
Heart & soul
You’d be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in Australian women’s cricket than Megan Schutt. Her bowling speaks for itself, but the intangibles like leadership, compassion and humour contribute to this squad even more than those deadly inswingers.
Ready to explode
When given the chance, Alex Price proved a miserly off spinner, conceding just 7.16 an over off her 18 overs in WBBL04. With several superstars in the Strikers bowling line-up providing pressure, Price might just slip under the radar (though her singing voice certainly won’t!) and grab some wickets with her flight and turn. Underestimate at your peril.