On the eve of Saturday's opening clash with the Perth Scorchers, we preview the upcoming WBBL04 season for our Hobart Hurricanes.
Heather Knight (England), Smriti Mandhana (India), Rhiann O'Donnell (Renegades), Ash Day, Alex Hartley (England/International replacement).
Nicola Hancock (Stars), Veda Krishnamurthy, Celeste Raack, Lauren Winfield.
Salliann Briggs (Head Coach), Dan Marsh (Senior Assistant Coach), Ben Rohrer (Assistant Coach),
There will be three weekend double headers played in our home state for Tasmania's Team, kicking off with back-to-back games in Burnie on the 8th and 9th of December. Hobart (15th and 16th of December at Blundstone Arena) and Launceston (30th and 31st of December at UTAS Stadium) will round out the trio of state-wide weekends of WBBL.
The WBBL03 campaign was a tough one for the Hurricanes, with injuries to key players and an early-season losing streak making consistent performances difficult to put together.
A ten-wicket win over the Melbourne Renegades and a thrilling victory over the Melbourne Stars gave fans of 'Tasmania's Team' a glimpse of what the side is capable of.
The majority of the squad will head into the WBBL04 season fresh off the back of some strong form representing Tasmania in the Women's National Cricket League, with the state's local talent continuing to grow in stature.
Georgia Redmayne and NSW expat Stefanie Daffara have both compiled strong knocks in the WNCL in recent matches, as has top-order batter Corinne Hall.
The Hurricanes boast a number of in-form all-rounders, led by newly-named captain Sasha Moloney, Meg Phillips and the ever-reliable Veronica Pyke. Developing quick Erin Fazackerley and Brooke Hepburn both remain dangerous options as they head up the bowling attack.
The return of English captain Heather Knight, who missed the WBBL|03 season with a foot injury, is a big plus. Knight made 334 runs in the WBBL02 season, averaging 25 with the bat including a high score of 69, and brings leadership qualities and experience to the squad.
Smriti Mandhana is the name on everyone's lips, with the Indian opener recently smashing 83 from 55 deliveries against Australia in the ICC World T20. Mandhana is expected to wow audiences as an opener for the Hurricanes, and currently holds the record for the fastest 50 in a T20I.
Hayley Matthews will return for her fourth season as a Hobart Hurricane after representing the West Indies in the recent World T20. Matthews has shown she's capable of dominating with both the bat and ball, highlighted by her 297 runs across WBBL|03 and 20 wickets in the WBBL|02 season.
Rhiann O'Donnell, Ash Day and Alex Hartley (international replacement for Game 1) will add depth to an exciting line up, with Hartley a member of the English side which claimed the 2017 Women's World Cup.
The Coach Says:
Salliann Briggs has spoken of her excitement ahead of her inaugural season as Head Coach. Passionate about attracting females to the sport, Briggs is hoping that the performances of the team will encourage more women to take up cricket. While she sees the Hurricanes being successful in WBBL|04, that's not the only concern of the group.
"We're not focused solely on winning, but on sticking to our plans," she said.
"If we do that, then we are competitive as a whole and believe we can beat anyone."
The return of overseas players Knight and Matthews, coupled with the coup of signing Mandhana, has Briggs confident the Hurricanes can upset a number of more-favoured sides in the upcoming WBBL campaign.
"We want to play in the finals, especially after the disappointment of last year," she said.
"When we're at full strength, other teams should fear us."