Consistency is key for the juggernaut that is the Sydney Sixers, with the two-time Rebel WBBL champions maintaining the core of their star-studded squad for the upcoming season.
Ellyse Perry’s team will no doubt be hungry after being pipped by the Brisbane Heat in last year’s final, and they’ve stuck to a successful formula with Australian stars Perry, Alyssa Healy and Ashleigh Gardner again taking their place at the top of the order, followed by recent international debutant Erin Burns.
South African stars Marizanne Kapp and Dane van Niekerk also return, albeit both under an injury cloud, with van Niekerk missing her side’s current tour of India while Kapp sat out the T20I portion before rejoining the squad for the ODIs.
But the Sixers also have five teenagers on their books - Maddy Darke, Emma Hughes, Stella Campbell, Alisha Burns and Hayley Silver-Holmes – with at least one of the youngsters to get a run every game.
Given the experience and star power of the Sixers’ squad, it’s hard to imagine a competition where they aren’t a frontrunner.
WBBL|04 result: Runners-up
Sixers squad: Sarah Aley, Alisha Bates, Erin Burns, Stella Campbell, Lauren Cheatle, Maddy Darke, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jodie Hicks, Emma Hughes, Marizanne Kapp (SA), Ellyse Perry (C), Hayley Silver-Holmes, Dane van Niekerk (SA), Lauren Smith
In: Maddy Darke, Emma Hughes, Stella Campbell, Alisha Burns
Out: Sara McGlashan (retired), Tahlia Wilson (Thunder), Carly Leeson (Renegades), Clara Iemma
The word from Australia great and Fox Cricket commentator Mel Jones:
"They didn’t win it last year but again, I think they’re the benchmark. If they can keep their key players on the park, you’d think they’ll make finals. If there’s some injury issues around any of those (international players) then they’ve got to turn to some youngsters. Hayley Silver-Holmes, Maddy Darke, Stella Campbell. All very young, all very raw, can they step up?"
One to watch: Erin Burns.The domestic journeywoman was finally rewarded for years of consistently improved performances when she was called up for Australia’s tour of the West Indies in August, making her T20 and ODI debuts in the Caribbean. Her off-spin and canny middle-order batting are key for the Sixers and now, with Australian experience under her belt, it will be interesting to see if Burns can find yet another level. There’s also the carrot of a T20 World Cup on the horizon; Burns got her Australian chance due to an injury to Renegades allrounder Sophie Molineux, so she’ll be out to make a case to retain her spot for that tournament in February and March.