The Melbourne Stars and Sydney Sixers have today finalised their 15-player squads for this season’s Rebel Women’s Big Bash League, just nine days out from the competition’s opening weekend.
Former Renegades batting allrounder Annabel Sutherland and medium pacer Chloe Rafferty have joined the Stars for WBBL|03, while the Sixers have signed a past Under-18 National Championships player of the tournament Clara Iemma.
Sutherland was the youngest player to debut in the WBBL when she represented Melbourne Renegades as a 15-year-old last year and went on to play four games. She has represented both her state and the Cricket Australia XI at various underage levels, and is currently playing for Victoria in Under-18 National Championships in Canberra.
"I've been working hard on all areas of my game and feel like I'm hitting the ball well," said Sutherland, the daughter of Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland.
"I'm excited and hopeful that I get the opportunity to play more games, and feel confident that I can make a strong contribution.
"Regardless of game time, I'm sure I'll love being around the team and I know I'll learn a lot from the experience."
Chloe Rafferty, who is in her second season with Women’s National Cricket League side Commonwealth Bank VicSpirit, will add depth to a Stars bowling line-up featuring the likes of new captain Kristen Beams, Emma Kearney and recruit Erin Osborne.
“I’m so thrilled to be picked up by the Melbourne Stars,” Rafferty said.
“Playing club cricket with ‘Beamsy’ (Kristen Beams) and under (coach) Karen Rolton, I’ve been able to tap into some great resources and really develop as a player over the past couple of seasons.
“They’ve been wonderful supporters and made all the travel and hard work worthwhile. I love the challenge of T20 cricket because you’ve got to draw on your skill, have good plans and nail your execution. I can’t wait for it to start.”
Melbourne Stars WBBL coach David Hemp said the "emerging talents" had strongly-developing skill sets and also praised their character.
Iemma, meanwhile, will play her first WBBL season with the Sixers, having been contracted by Abode Hotels ACT Meteors this WNCL season.
The former NSW Metro's Under 18's representative player rounds out the reigning champions' squad less than two weeks out from the start of the third season.
Sixers head coach Ben Sawyer said he was happy to have Iemma on board, labelling her "an exciting young player".
"Last season, Clara was named as player of the tournament at the Under-18 Australian Championships and recently signed with the ACT WNCL team," he said. "I am looking forward to working with Clara and seeing where she can take her T20 game."
Five of the eight WBBL clubs have confirmed their 15-player squad lists,= with the Renegades, Perth Scorchers and Sydney Thunder yet to reveal their final signings.
Stars final WBBL|03 squad: Kristen Beams (C), Makinley Blows, Hayleigh Brennan, Mignon du Preez, Georgia Elwiss, Nicole Faltum, Emma Kearney, Alana King, Anna Lanning, Lizelle Lee, Katie Mack, Erin Osborne, Chloe Rafferty, Annabel Sutherland, Gemma Triscari
Sixers final WBBL|03 squad: Ellyse Perry (C), Sarah Aley, Erin Burns, Lauren Cheatle, Ash Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jodie Hicks, Clara Iemma, Marizanne Kapp, Carly Leeson, Emily Leys, Sara McGlashan, Ange Reakes, Lauren Smith, Dane Van Niekerk.