The ECB’s new flagship domestic cricket competition is due to get underway this summer, as eight new sides do battle for the inaugural trophy- but which team boasts the best squad so far?
The Phoenix will have England opening batter and wicket-keeper Amy Jones in their ranks, whilst another England international Georgia Elwiss has also been signed. Elwiss in truth, is perhaps better suited to the ODI format, having scored just 29 runs in 14 T20 internationals, but could still be vital with ball in hand. The most exciting acquisition to this Birmingham side however, is New Zealand international Sophie Devine, who will captain the side. Devine is one of the greatest T20 players to ever play the game, and will undoubtedly be one of the best all-rounders in the competition.
It is fitting that recently engaged England internationals Nat Sciver and Katherine Brunt, will take to the field on the same team. Both can bat, both can bowl and both will be crucial to the Rockets chances. Sciver is undoubtedly the better with bat in hand, whilst Brunt edges it with the ball. Whilst these two are the standout names on the team-sheet, the Nottingham based side have also signed two overseas Australian internationals in Sophie Molineux and T20 veteran Elysee Villani.
Perhaps the weakest side in terms of England internationals, Welsh Fire have an embarrassment of overseas riches this year. Australian Captain Meg Lanning, T20 World Cup player of the tournament Beth Mooney, and all-rounder Jess Jonassen have all joined the Welsh Side. They are yet to announce their captain, but it doesn’t seem likely to be anyone other than Lanning at this point.
The Brave are my pick to win the tournament based on their current squad. They seemingly have the perfect blend of pace, power and experience that is vital for a successful limited overs side. One of the nation’s most decorated bowlers Anya Shrubsole and opening batter Danni Wyatt offer a strong English core, whilst Suzie Bates has been one of the top limited overs batters for some time, as has Stefanie Taylor, who continued carried the West Indies for many years now.
The Surrey based team certainly look far from invincible this year, but once again, their overseas signings look to be threatening. Rachael Haynes and Marizanne Kappy are seasoned internationals for Australia and South Africa respectively whilst Dane Van Niekerk has scored over 4000 international runs and was pivotal for the South African side which reached the T20 World Cup semi-finals recently.
The experienced Lauren Winfield will captain the Superchargers, having played for Yorkshire all of her career. Nicola Carey is another useful Australian signing, but it is Alyssa Healy who is the standout name on the list. Few could forget the devastating half-century she hit at the MCG just weeks ago in the T20 World Cup final, whilst she also boasts other records, including the highest T20 score ever recorded, scoring 148 not out against Sri-Lanka last year. If Healy has a good tournament, the Superchargers could go far.
Sophie Ecclestone is already ranked as the number one T20 bowler in the world aged just 20, and her spin will be crucial to Manchester’s chances. The Originals also have two of South Africa’s most experienced players in Mignon Du Preez and Lizelle Lee. Between the pair, they have amassed almost 10,000 international runs and many will remember Lee for her recent century in the T20 World Cup. She is undoubtedly one of the World's most destructive hitters and is a fantastic acquisition.
England Captain Heather Knight will also skipper the Spirit, as the London based team has established a strong English contingent. Tammy Beaumont is an exciting name, and is a proven match winner, but has struggled for form in recent times. It will be interesting to see whether or not she is deployed as an opener or a middle order finisher, but the former would probably be more suited given the format.
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