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WBBL previews: squad lists and players to watch

The fifth edition of the WBBL - and the first standalone version - begins on Friday with the Brisbane Heat aiming to retain the title they won in thrilling style last year. Here's how the squads stack up with some names to keep an eye on.

Adelaide Strikers

Squad Darcie Brown, Tegan McPharlin, Alex Price, Annie O'Neil, Sarah Coyte, Katie Mack, Sophie Devine, Suzie Bates, Bridget Patterson, Ellie Falconer, Megan Schutt, Tahlia McGrath, Stafanie Taylor, Lauren Winfield, Amanda-Jade Wellington, Tabatha Saville

2018-19 stats

What happened last season?

They began with victory against eventual champions the Brisbane Heat, but struggled for consistency until the backend if the group stage where they secured three victories in a row - including a Super Over win against the Hobart Hurricanes - but it was too late to make the knockouts. That was despite having two of the five highest run-scorers in Sophie Devine and Suzie Bates

Player to watch

Allrounder Tahlia McGrath was part of Australia's Test and ODI side but has not featured since 2017 although is a current member of the national performance squad. Last season she was the Strikers' third-highest run-scorer behind Devine and Bates and if she can increase her output from the 276 runs made in 2018-19 it will help take the pressure off the New Zealand pair.

Brisbane Heat

Squad Kirby Short (capt), Haidee Birkett, Maddy Green, Grace Harris, Laura Harris, Mikayla Hinkley, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Jess Jonassen, Amelia Kerr, Delissa Kimmince, Charli Knott, Lilly Mills, Beth Mooney, Georgia Prestwidge, Courtney Sippel

2018-19 stats

What happened last season?

Ended the Sydney Sixers' quest for a hat-trick of titles with a three-wicket win in the final where Beth Mooney battled the heat for a matchwinning 65 then they held their nerve amid a late wobble. Their semi-final win over the Sydney Thunder had been a thriller as well with Haidee Birkett holding a stunning catch to secure victory. Mooney had an excellent tournament with the bat, making 486 runs, while Delissa Kimmince was the leading wicket-taker with 22.

Player to watch

Last season Grace Harris smashed the fastest WBBL hundred off just 42 balls against the Melbourne Stars and overall she was the Heat's second-highest scorer behind Mooney. Her strike-rate of 148.41 was the highest of the tournament. There were also 16 wickets at an economy rate of under six in a stellar tournament. And that's before we even mention the times she is on the mic in the field.

Hobart Hurricanes

Squad Nicola Carey, Stefanie Daffara, Erin Fazackerley, Katelyn Fryett, Maisy Gibson, Corinne Hall (capt), Brooke Hepburn, Heather Knight, Hayley Matthews, Sasha Moloney, Meg Phillips, Emily Smith, Chloe Tryon, Belinda Vakarewa, Tayla Vlaeminck, Fran Wilson

2018-19 stats

What happened last season?

The Hurricanes made the semi-finals in the first two seasons of the WBBL but have been the competition anchors in the last two years. Last season they won just two matches and also lost two Super Overs. West Indies star Hayley Matthews only managed two games before being injured and India's Smriti Mandhana managed just two half-centuries in 13 games. The Hurricanes did score more runs than any other team but they conceded more runs than any other side as well. They had real trouble containing opposition sides and they have made a concerted effort in the off-season to bolster the bowling stocks.

Player to watch

Tayla Vlaeminck has made the move to Tasmania alongside fellow Australia player Nicola Carey. Vlaeminck hasn't shown her best form at WBBL level yet due to a multitude of injury issues but her performances for Australia recently suggest she could have a huge tournament. She has taken wickets in each of her last five international matches and has conceded under six runs an over. She will be the fastest bowler in the tournament and will give the Hurricanes some real strike-power upfront.

Melbourne Renegades

Squad Tammy Beaumont, Makinley Blows, Maitlan Brown, Josie Dooley, Jess Duffin (capt), Erica Kershaw, Claire Koski, Carly Leeson, Sophie Molineux, Courtney Neale, Molly Strano, Lea Tahuhu, Georgia Wareham, Courtney Webb, Danni Wyatt

2018-19 stats

What happened last season?

The Renegades fell agonisingly short of the final. Sophie Molineux firstly went within millimetres of finding the match-winning boundary off the last ball of the semi-final and then she was inches short of the winning third run after her full stretch dive was just beaten by Alyssa Healy's direct hit. The Renegades did only just scrape into the semis, though, winning seven games for the season. Their attack was their biggest weapon last year with the spin trio of Molly Strano, Georgia Wareham, and Molineux complemented by the speed of Lea Tahuhu and the consistency of Maitlan Brown. But their batting was too heavily reliant on Molineux, who scored three of the Renegades' six half-centuries for the season, including her brilliant innings in the semi-final.

Player to watch

Allrounder Sophie Molineux is again the Renegades key player and with the absence of Amy Satterthwaite her runs will be even more important. She will get more support at the top of the order with the signing of senior England batter Tammy Beaumont. Molineux will be pushing to be part of Australia's T20 World Cup squad and runs and wickets will put her right in the frame.

Melbourne Stars

Squad Kristen Beams, Lucy Cripps, Mignon du Preez, Nicole Faltum, Holly Ferling, Tess Flintoff, Nicola Hancock, Emma Inglis, Alana King, Lizelle Lee, Katey Martin, Erin Osborne, Angela Reakes, Annabel Sutherland, Elyse Villani (capt)

2018-19 stats

What happened last season?

The Stars started the season with a bang thanks to Lizelle Lee's stunning century on the opening day, and they won their first two matches, but their batting really fell away badly as they struggled to make winning scores. The South African pair of Lee and Mignon du Preez reached 50 just once each which meant their relatively inexperienced attack didn't have much to work with. Legspinner Kristen Beams, who has announced she will retire after this season, was only available for six games which made their task even harder and they only managed five wins for the season.

Player to watch

Elyse Villani returning home to Melbourne after a stint in Perth is a huge boost for the Stars. She takes over as captain and is very highly regarded as a leader but her batting will be where she can make the biggest impact. She was the sixth leading runscorer in the WBBL last season and only played 11 games. She has also been out of favour at international level and will be looking to push her case for the T20 World Cup having not played a T20I since the 2018 World Cup final in the West Indies.

Perth Scorchers

Squad Jemma Barsby, Samantha Betts, Nicole Bolton, Mathilda Carmichael, Piepa Cleary, Kim Garth, Heather Graham, Kath Hempenstall, Amy Jones, Emma King, Meg Lanning (capt), Taneale Peschel, Chloe Piparo, Georgia Redmayne, Nat Sciver

2018-19 stats

What happened last season?

The much-vaunted Scorchers were arguably the biggest disappointments of WBBL04. Despite the star power in the top-order, they were unable to make the finals for the first time. Meg Lanning, Elyse Villani and Nicole Bolton missed 13 games between them which did test the Scorchers' depth from a batting perspective, but they really struggled with the ball. Heather Graham took 22 wickets in a season where she was named domestic player of the year but Bolton's 12 wickets from 11 games with her part-time offspin was the next best contributor, and she was the only bowler with an economy rate under seven.

Player to watch

Nicole Bolton will be important for the Scorchers. She has taken a step back from international cricket for the time being to focus on her mental health and she has enjoyed the domestic environment with Western Australia, scoring two WNCL half-centuries to start the season. Lanning will be the key wicket for opposition teams and that may allow Bolton to play with some freedom. Her offspin will be useful again, as she is particularly adept at bowling in the powerplay.

Sydney Sixers

Squad Sarah Aley, Alisha Bates, Erin Burns, Stella Campbell, Lauren Cheatle, Maddy Darke, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jodie Hicks, Emma Hughes, Marizanne Kapp, Ellyse Perry, Hayley Silver-Holmes, Dane van Niekerk, Lauren Smith

2018-19 stats

What happened last season?

Pipped in the final by the Heat after the semi-final for the ages against the Renegades when the relay run out between Erin Burns, Sarah Aley and Alyssa Healy became one of the moments of the season. A stellar top order produced three individuals hundreds - two from Ellyse Perry and one for Healy - supplemented by further international class in Ashleigh Gardner, Erin Burns and Dane van Niekerk. Perry's tally of 777 runs was a new WBBL record.

Player to watch

It may seem obvious to pick out Ellyse Perry, but the strength of Australia's top order means she hasn't been needed much with the bat in recent times. Back on the domestic scene she can expect to be at the top of the order with the chance to set the tone for the innings. The Sixers aren't short on bowling options, either, but Perry will be looking to increase on her return of 10 wickets in 16 matches at last year's tournament.

Sydney Thunder

Squad Rachael Haynes, Sam Bates, Alex Blackwell, Nida Dar, Hannah Darlington, Rene Farrell, Lisa Griffith, Saskia Horley, Shabnim Ismail, Phoebe Litchfield, Rachel Priest, Kate Peterson, Naomi Stalenberg, Rachel Trenaman, Tahlia Wilson

2018-19 stats

What happened last season?

Finished second in the league stage and when Nicole Carey connected with her swing into the leg side off the final ball of the semi-final against the Heat it looked as though they were destined for the final, only for Haidee Birkett to grab the brilliant catch on the boundary. Rachael Haynes led the batting impressively with 376 runs with Stafanie Taylor, who this season will play for the Strikers, taking 19 wickets and contributing 212 runs.

Player to watch

It remains to be seen how often she makes the startling XI, but 16-year-old Phoebe Litchfield is an undoubted star of the future. Earlier this year a video posted by the NSW Breakers of her batting in the nets gained considerable attention and over the last 12 months she has scored her maiden first grade century, made her debut for the Breakers and been selected for Australia Under-19s and the Governor General's XI.