“A challenge, but an exciting challenge” was Sydney Thunder coach Trevor Griffin’s verdict when quizzed about his team’s draw for this year’s rebel Women's Big Bash League season.
The sixth edition of Australia’s elite T20 domestic women’s competition will be played entirely in a Sydney hub, after COVID-19 bio and travel restrictions forced organisers to change the schedule.
However, the season remains at a full 59 matches, with the Rachael Haynes-captained Thunder playing in their first match on the opening day of the tournament - Sunday 25 October.
They’ll take on crosstown rivals the Sydney Sixers at North Sydney Oval, before launching into a campaign which Griffin said his support staff would play a crucial role in.
“Compared to any previous WBBL season this is a full-on campaign,” said Griffin, who enters his second season as Thunder’s head coach.
“At one stage we’ll play six games in nine days, so it is going to be important for our support staff to manage the rest and recovery as well as ensuring the player’s skills remain finetuned so they can perform.
“We could see a form of player rotation in this tournament, so that should mean every member of the squad is ready to play.”
The players will be accommodated in the rebel WBBL Village in Sydney Olympic Park. Each of the tournament’s eight teams and staff will be accommodated in the village throughout the tournament. It was created with the support of rebel, the Sydney Olympic Park authority, Accor Hotels, and Cricket NSW. It provides the WBBL with exclusive use of multiple hotels, high performance facilities and dining venues.
Sydney Thunder rebuilt during the off-season following the retirement of club legend Alex Blackwell and crowd favourite Rene Farrell.
However, Griffin said there was plenty for fans - including Thunder Members who will enjoy free entry at their club's WBBL matches - to be excited about with the team that will represent Thunder Nation.
“Something that stood out last year was that we have a number of emerging players who are all exciting prospects,” he said. “Hannah Darlington, Phoebe Litchfield, Tahlia Wilson and Rachel Trenaman proved what they’re capable of last summer.
“Kate Peterson will be pushing for her chance this summer, and we’re pleased to have all-rounder Olivia Porter and batter Anika Learoyd in the squad.”
Griffin said he was looking forward to working with new recruit Sammy-Jo Johnson, who’s accurate seam bowling and power hitting were important factors in the Brisbane Heat winning the last two WBBL titles.
He was also keen to resume working with Thunder skipper Rachael Haynes, who he praised as “a special talent”.
“Rachael’s leadership ability... her knowledge... is second to none,” he said. “She leads by example, and tactically she is one of the best in the world. She’s great to have for the group of players we have.”
Sydney Thunder, who still has two more WBBL player signings to announce, will feature in a total of five matches on the host broadcasters, the Seven Network and Foxtel. Each of this season’s games will be shown on Kayo.
Membership renewals are now open for this summer, with new packages available that will give Members access to a host of new benefits and exclusive discounts. Visit sydneythunder.com.au/membership for more information.