Perth’s hopes of hosting the fifth Ashes Test is no longer a lock, with WA Cricket chief executive Christina Matthews now rating it as just a 50-50 chance.
At just 21 years of age, Courtney Webb from the Melbourne Renegades is just one of a host of younger players that have been given increased opportunity as part of WBBL07.
At the Sydney Thunder, 19-year-old Hannah Darlington has assumed the captaincy and Phoebe Litchfield has been elevated up the order, to third.
Tahlia McGrath has been a standout at the Adelaide Strikers following her Player of the Series-winning performance against India.
For Webb, she has also been given increased responsibility this year. Generally Webb was a middle-order batter being used by the Renegades to finish matches. But this year has seen Webb elevated up the order to third.
“It’s a pretty different role to what I have played over the last few seasons,” said Webb.
“I had felt really comfortable in that fifth or sixth spot and coming in to finish the innings, but I have really enjoyed having a go closer to the top of the order.
“Hopefully I can make the most of the opportunity over the next few games.”
Webb’s view is that the strength of Australia’s domestic competitions, particularly the WNCL and WBBL have given increased opportunity to younger players to play cricket against not just the best talent in Australia, but also the world.
“There are so many young women coming through and getting good opportunities to play cricket,” said Webb.
“It’s a really exciting time for a lot of us and it’s good to see so many younger players being included in the Aussie team too.”
While this WBBL will see the Renegades travel to five different locations including Hobart, Perth, Adelaide and Mackay, Webb was particularly excited about returning to Launceston.
Webb grew up in Launceston and her club was South Launceston CC.
“Given the pandemic, we have to be adaptable,” said Webb.
“Last year was a shock for everyone and again things haven’t been easy this year, so it’s certainly been difficult for everyone around the country and meant some scheduling changes to the WBBL.
“But it is so good to be playing cricket again and being from Tasmania, it has been great to start the tournament here.”
Rumour has it that Webb even had her own personal cheer squad when the Renegades played in Launceston.
“There’s a famous fan club among the Renegades group made up of some friends of mine from school and from my old cricket club,” said Webb.
“They came to watch last Saturday when it was pouring with rain. They waited a couple of hours for the game to start and even when the game was called off, they waited until we left the rooms to see me.
“I have some awesome friends down here and it was so special to play in front of them again.”
The Renegades have had a positive start to the WBBL season, winning three out of their first four games (with their fixture against the Perth Scorchers being abandoned due to rain).
But for Webb, one of those victories in particular stands out. That was the Renegades’ seven-wicket win over the Sydney Sixers.
Some tight bowling from the Renegades saw the Sixers restricted to just 118 runs and meant that when it came to their batting innings, the Renegades were firmly in control.
“That game against the Sixers was a big one to set the tone for how we are planning to play this season,” said Webb.
“They are a quality side so to get those key early wickets and to be in control after we got their top three out meant we didn’t feel too much pressure for the rest of the game.
“It was a huge win for us and hopefully we can carry that momentum into our next couple of games.”
But it wasn’t just the Renegades bowlers that put on a show that day. Opener Eve Jones scored 38 runs off 30 balls and Harmanpreet Kaur ended up on 35 not out with two 6s to finish off the innings.
Webb is also relishing the opportunity to learn from the Renegades internationals.
“Harmanpreet is an incredible player, just unbelievable.”
“She seems like she gets her eye in at the start and then backs herself 100 per cent to clear the rope.
“You can’t give her too many balls; once she has faced eight balls she is in and ready to explode.
“I love watching her play whether it’s from the sidelines or at the other end of the crease.”