Indian stars Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana favorites for WBBL teams as tournament mull overseas backups
For the upcoming seventh edition, the confirmed overseas signings are Sophie Devine, Marizanne Kapp and Chamari Athapaththu.
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With the dates of the Women’s Big Bash League season set in stone, teams have started the player hunt, to ensure they have all bases covered and have the best talents included in their ranks. The tournament, set to run from October 14 and conclude on November 27, has multiple challenges, however, given strict quarantine protocols in the Covid-19 times and the league’s clash with multiple international bilateral series.
England’s tour of Pakistan, for instance, is set to be played in the same October-November window, which means that none of the players from the two nations would be available for the tournament. The series majorly troubles Sydney Thunder, Melbourne Stars and Perth Scorchers, who all fielded two England players apiece in the previous edition.
For the upcoming seventh edition, the confirmed overseas signings are New Zealand’s Sophie Devine, South Africa’s Marizanne Kapp and Sri Lanka’s Chamari Athapaththu, all set to represent the Scorchers. Meanwhile, there is an interesting proposition with Indian women set to participate in the league straight after the 4th edition, given they will be in Australia for the multi-format series that ends days before WBBL’s start.
Sydney Sixers is in the front to bag India’s young sensation Shafali Verma, also the current No. 1 T20I batter. “Shafali Verma is on everyone’s list, no doubt,” Lisa Sthalekar told reporters on Thursday. “She loves Australian conditions, we saw that in the T20 World Cup.
“Each club will have some vacancies and (there may be) an Indian player there that could fit that role … I’m sure that they’re picking up the phone and making those calls. It helps that they’re in the country and they’ve already done the two weeks’ quarantine,” she added.
Apart from Verma, Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur, Deepti Sharma, Jemimah Rodrigues and Poonam Yadav are also likely to gain attention.
WBBL Head confident about overseas players presence
Meanwhile, post the announcement of the 7th edition’s fixtures on Thursday, Cricket Australia’s head of Big Bash Alistair Dobson sounded confident about having overseas players for the tournament despite all the Covid-related restrictions.
“It’s inevitable there will be some hurdles but we have great experience from last year and we showed our ability to work closely with governments and players and different stakeholders to get players in,” Dobson said.
“We’re really excited about some of the players being signed to WBBL teams. We understand the challenges but we’re hopeful of being able to work around it again. That said, it is an ever-changing landscape and we’ll have to be nimble and flexible.”
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