James Vince’s masterful 95 and magnificent catch have delivered defending champions Sydney Sixers a 27-run win over Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League final.
The Sydney Sixers reached the first four WBBL finals, winning the WBBL02 and WBBL03 titles.
In WBBL05, the season went off the rails when Ellyse Perry injured her shoulder acrobatically and somewhat ambitiously trying to stop a six in a game against the Renegades and the Sixers finished fifth. In WBBL06, the Sixers finished fifth again.
After missing the finals two seasons in a row, the Sixers have had some changes in their squad. South African power couple Marizanne Kapp (Perth Scorchers) and Dane van Niekerk (Adelaide Scorchers) have both left.
The Sixers have also lost the experience of retired bowler Sarah Aley, the fourth leading wicket taker in WBBL history.
Maddy Drake (Melbourne Stars), Lisa Griffith (Perth Scorchers) and Jodie Hicks will also not be wearing magenta in WBBL07.
The Sixers do still, however, have a nucleus of Australian players at the top of their order. Captain Perry has scored the second most runs in WBBL history with 3,002 and has also taken 40 wickets. In the second T20 against India recently, Perry surpassed Alex Blackwell (251 matches) to become the player to have played the most matches across all formats for Australia.
Wicketkeeper and opening batter Alyssa Healy will also return to the Sixers. Healy has scored the fifth most runs in WBBL history with 2415, with four 100s and 12 fifties. Healy has also taken 46 catches and made 34 stumpings for the Sixers.
Ash Gardner has scored over 1679 runs and taken 35 wickets for the Sixers and is a wonderful fielder on the midwicket or cover boundary. Gardner has played almost 50 T20 internationals. She has scored over 800 runs and taken more than 25 wickets in T20s for Australia.
The club have signed two Indian stars for WBBL07. Shafali Verma should form a dynamic opening partnership with Alyssa Healy. Verma has scored over 600 T20 runs for India, with a highest score of 73. In just two Tests, Verma has scored 242 runs with a 52, 63 and 96.
Left-arm orthodox bowler Radha Yadav has taken over 50 wickets in T20s for India. Yadav will bring extra variety to the bowling attack.
A very astute piece of recruitment by the Sixers was to recruit Maitlan Brown from the Melbourne Renegades. Brown has taken 44 WBBL wickets and has continued to improve her consistency and variations.
After six seasons with the Perth Scorchers, experienced batter Nicole Bolton has made the move east. Bolton has scored almost 1500 WBBL runs and has played more than 50 matches across all formats for Australia, with most of those matches at ODI level. Bolton has also taken more than 40 WBBL wickets with her spin bowling.
The Sixers also have a number of other players returning. Erin Burns will continue to bring her all-round abilities, having scored 1311 WBBL runs and taken 38 WBBL wickets. Burns’ highest score is 60 not out and her best bowling is 3/20. All things going welll Burns will notch up her 100th match this season.
Left-arm fast-medium bowler Lauren Cheatle, who has had some injury issues in recent seasons, is still only 22 years of age and has taken 34 WBBL wickets.
Stella Campbell, who has taken 15 WBBL wickets, also returns. Campbell made her Test and ODI debuts in the recent series series against India.
Angela Reakes adds experience to the Sixers’ squad. She has scored over 500 WBBL runs playing for the Sixers and the Melbourne Stars.
Promising young pace bowler Emma Hughes from Dubbo signed with the Sixers for WBBL05 but is yet to make her debut.
After spending three seasons with the ACT Meteors, Matilda Lugg will be Healy’s understudy with the wicketkeeping gloves.
The Sixers have also signed teenage leg spinner Jade Allen, who hails from Cobargo.
Young all-rounder Hayley Silver-Holmes has a hip injury, and Claire Moore has been signed as Silver-Holmes’ replacement. Moore was the leading run scorer in NSW Women’s Premier Cricket last season.
There have been more changes to the Sixers’ roster than in prior seasons. It is exciting to have Australian stalwarts Perry, Healy and Gardner joined by Indian stars Verma and Yadav. The recruitment of Brown and Bolton will also add experience to the Sixers squad.
Burns, Campbell, Cheatle and Reakes will contribute when required.
Based on the star power and experience in this squad, you would expect the Sixers to return to the semi-finals.
Predicted finish: Semi-finalists.