Final squads announced for Women's Super League
The finalised squads for the inaugural Women's Super League have been announced by the England & Wales Cricket Board, with a pool of more than 200 potential players having been narrowed down to six squads of 15.
The tournament, sponsored by Kia, will feature a mix of talent from English cricket and abroad, with each squad comprising three or four established England women's players, three overseas players, two or three England Women's Academy players, and six or seven players who have been selected through a county talent identification process.
The big overseas signings include the hard-hitting teenager, Hayley Matthews, whose 66 from 45 balls set up West Indies' remarkable World T20 victory against Australia in Kolkata earlier this month. She will be playing for Lancashire Thunder, as a replacement for Australia's Jess Jonassen who was ruled out of through injury, and will compete alongside her fellow West Indies batsman, Deandra Dottin, and the Australian Sarah Coyte.
Meg Lanning, the Australia Women's captain who is widely considered to be the best current batsman in the world, has joined Surrey Stars, where she will play under the England allrounder Natalie Sciver, while New Zealand's captain, Suzie Bates, recently named by Wisden as the leading women's cricketer in the world, will be a team-mate of the England captain, Charlotte Edwards, at Southern Vipers.
Six former England players have also been tempted out of retirement to take part in the tournament. Arran Brindle, Beth Morgan and Laura Newton, who retired from international duty in 2014, 2011 and 2007 respectively, will bring 330 international caps and a wealth of Ashes and World Cup winners' experience to the Southern Vipers, Surrey Stars and Lancashire Thunder.
Meanwhile Rosalie Fairbairn (née Birch), a 2005 Ashes winner, has been selected in the Western Storm squad, while left-arm seamer Laura Spragg and wicketkeeper Lauren Griffiths have been included in the Yorkshire Diamonds and Loughborough Lightning squads.
"The momentum behind the new Kia Super League continues to gather pace," Clare Connor, the ECB director of England Women's cricket, said. "Today marks another important piece of the jigsaw as we get set for the competition's launch later this summer.
"The six squads are well balanced and full of quality, talent, youth and experience. Having former World Cup winners and Ashes winners involved will not only strengthen the standard of the competition on the field, it will also bring another level of insight and knowledge, which will assist with meeting our overriding objective for the Kia Super League to bridge the gap between domestic and international cricket.
The first match of the tournament, between Yorkshire Diamonds and Loughborough Lightning, will take place at Headingley on Saturday, July 30.
Lancashire Thunder Kate Cross (EW), Sarah Taylor (EW) (capt), Danielle Wyatt (EW), Sarah Coyte (O), Deandra Dottin (O), Hayley Matthews (O), Sophie Ecclestone (EWA), Emma Lamb (EWA), Ellie Threlkeld (EWA), Natalie Brown, Georgia Holmes, Laura Marshall, Natasha Miles, Laura Newton, Nalisha Patel
Loughborough Lightning Georgia Elwiss (EW), Rebecca Grundy (EW), Amy Jones (EW), Beth Langston (EW), Sophie Devine (O), Ellyse Perry (O), Dane van Nierkerk (O), Evelyn Jones (EWA) Alex MacDonald (EWA), Georgie Boyce, Thea Brookes, Amy Gauvrit, Lauren Griffiths, Sonia Odedra, Paige Scholfield
Southern Vipers Charlotte Edwards (EW) (capt), Natasha Farrant (EW), Lydia Greenway (EW), Suzie Bates (O), Sara McGlashan (O), Megan Schutt (O), Georgia Adams (EWA), Ellen Burt (EWA), Katie George (EWA), Arran Brindle, Isabelle Collis, Daisy Gardner, Alice Macleod, Fi Morris, Carla Rudd
Surrey Stars Tammy Beaumont (EW), Laura Marsh (EW), Natalie Sciver (EW) (capt), Rene Farrell (O), Marizanne Kapp (O), Meg Lanning (O), Sophie Dunkley (EWA), Alex Hartley (EWA), Bryony Smith (EWA), Aylish Cranstone, Grace Gibbs, Cordelia Griffith, Raveena Lakhtaria, Beth Morgan, Kirstie White
Western Storm Heather Knight (EW) (capt), Anya Shrubsole (EW), Fran Wilson (EW), Lizelle Lee (O), Rachel Priest (O), Stafanie Taylor (O), Freya Davies (EWA), Sophie Luff (EWA), Amara Carr, Jodie Dibble, Rosalie Fairbairn, Georgia Hennessy, Sophie Mackenzie, Cait O'Keefe, Izzy Westbury
Yorkshire Diamonds Katherine Brunt (EW), Jenny Gunn (EW), Danielle Hazell (EW), Lauren Winfield (EW) (capt), Alex Blackwell (O), Beth Mooney (O), Shabnim Ismail (O), Hollie Armitage (EWA), Steph Butler (EWA), Alice Davidson Richards, Teresa Graves, Katie Levick, Anna Nicholls, Laura Spragg, Katie Thompson
EW = England Women O = Overseas EWA = England Women's Academy