WBBL – a look at the squads

Updated Saturday night – I’ve updated this post to reflect the final seven players announced for the Adelaide Strikers.

The WBBL starts later this morning with a match in Melbourne between the Melbourne Stars and the Brisbane Heat, followed by a second match later today between the same two teams, and a match between the Sydney Sixers and the Sydney Thunder in Penrith tomorrow.

Most teams have pushed their squad selection right up to the wire. When I was compiling a list of players on Wednesday night, the Sydney Thunder hadn’t yet announced any overseas player signings, and then on Thursday morning they announced their final two players, including West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor.

The Adelaide Strikers announced a large swathe of players on the same day that the competition started, although they have a week before their first match.

In this post I will run through the relative levels of experience in each squad. I’ll return tomorrow with a post on the players’ batting and bowling stats.

Each team can have a squad of up to 14 players, and up to five of those players can have international experience (which is defined as playing at least ten ODIs or T20Is in recent times), so ‘international’ doesn’t include players who have only made a brief appearance representing Australia, or a number of players who have come out of retirement to play, such as Lisa Sthalekar for the Sixers or Shelley Nitschke for the Strikers.

Of those five international players, up to three can be from outside Australia – these slots have been filled by international stars from England, New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies. The Sydney Thunder have only selected a single overseas player (Taylor from the West Indies), the Heat have selected two, and every other team has filled their quota of three players, with the Scorchers sharing one of their slots between two players.

The following table shows the numbers of players for each team who have respectively played in T20Is, played in T20Is since July 2014, and played in the Australian domestic T20 competition, as well as the total number of matches played by the squad in that category. The last column shows the number of players who haven’t got any experience at all in my database.

Team T20I Recent T20I Aus T20 No exp
Heat 7/111 5/30 10/475 2
Hurricanes 4/131 4/34 13/489 0
Renegades 5/178 3/33 9/262 2
Scorchers 7/343 5/55 11/413 1
Sixers 6/345 5/47 12/461 0
Stars 5/180 5/52 8/382 3
Strikers 7/298 5/47 13/433 0
Thunder 5/266 4/50 7/360 5

Overall, every team has 4-5 players who have played international cricket in the last 18 months, except for the Renegades. The number of recent matches varies from only thirty for the Heat to over 50 for the Scorchers, Stars and Thunder.

When you look at each team’s overall experience, the Scorchers and Sixers have much more experienced players, with over 300 matches each. Each team has a large number of international players, but also players who all have a solid number of international matches under their belt. The Sixers have six players who have played at least 40 T20Is, including Ellyse Perry and Sara McGlashan who are getting close to 70. The Scorchers have three overseas players who have each played over 75 matches: Suzie Bates (NZ), Deandra Dottin (WI) and England captain Charlotte Edwards (England).

The Strikers and the Thunder also both have a number of players with extensive international experience, with each team having three players who have played over 50 T20Is.

Interestingly, the Heat have seven players with international experience, but four of them have played eight matches or less, including up-and-comers like Grace Harris.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are 13 players signed for the WBBL who have no playing experience in my database, all of whom are Australian. This includes Ash Barty, who had previously made the final of three tennis doubles Grand Slam tournaments in 2013 before switching to cricket in 2015 and signing with the Heat. It also includes a bunch of players who have presumably only played at the lower level.

In between, I’ve also included the amount of experience each team has playing in the previous Australian domestic Twenty20 competition. My data is patchy on other parts of the world (very good coverage of New Zealand and Sri Lanka, no data for England), so to keep it consistent I’m only measuring experience in Australian domestic matches.

The Heat, Hurricanes and Sixers dominate here, with each team having over 450 matches of experience in domestic conditions. Barely half the Stars and Thunder squads have played in the Twenty20 cup, but those with experience have a lot of it.

One other thing I wanted to note was how smooth the transition has been from the old state teams to the new franchises.

In the former competition, the six states and the ACT each had a team. Effectively the teams in the four smaller states have mapped on neatly to the new franchises, with ACT players scattered to the winds. While in the men’s game we see a lot of players playing for a franchise outside of their home state, that’s not the case here.

This table shows how this year’s squads compare to last year’s squads, divided between overseas and Australian players.

Category # of players
Australian, same state 55
Australian, didn’t play 23
Overseas, didn’t play 15
Former ACT players 8
Overseas, same state 7
Australian, different state 5

Apart from the seven ACT players, who have all gone to Melbourne or Sydney, only five other Australians have switched states.


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