India T20I captain Harmanpreet Kaur and former Australia vice-captain Alex Blackwell are both set to return to Lancashire Thunder, taking up their respective roles as overseas recruit and head coach once again for the Kia Super League 2019.
Harmanpreet, who played her first season in the tournament last year and made 164 runs in seven innings at an average of 32.80 and a strike rate of 151.85, is Thunder's first overseas signing of the season, with two more additions due to be announced. She is the fourth Indian to feature in the league this season, alongside Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma (Western Storm) and Jemimah Rodrigues (Yorkshire Diamonds).
"I am delighted to sign with Lancashire Thunder once again for the Kia Super League. I really enjoyed my first spell in Lancashire, everybody made me feel very welcome and I have some great friends in the dressing room, who I can't wait to play with again," Harmanpreet said in a statement on the team's website.
"It is a very talented squad and I know we will all be hungry to go one further this year, following the disappointment of narrowly missing out on Finals Day in 2018."
Blackwell, who took up the job last year in what was her maiden assignment as full-time head coach following her retirement from international cricket, said her reunion with Harmanpreet, also her team-mate at Sydney Thunder in WBBL, was something she was looking forward to.
"Harmanpreet made a fantastic start last summer, holding her nerve in the final over to hit the winning runs at Surrey after joining up with the squad late," Blackwell said of Harmanpreet's 21-ball 34 not out on debut, against eventual champions Surrey Stars, who had signed her up for the 2017 season but couldn't avail of her services due to an injury Harmanpreet sustained at the 2017 World Cup. For Thunder, she capped off her innings on debut with a match-winning six in the final over, at The Oval.
"She also played a great knock in our Roses victory against Yorkshire in Blackpool and I am certain that she will be determined to showcase even more of her skills this summer," Blackwell said.
The 2019 edition of the KSL begins on August 6, with Thunder taking on Southern Vipers in the season opener at Aigburth, Liverpool.