Australia batter Elyse Villani has joined the Melbourne Stars while young quick Belinda Vakarewa is the latest to join the Hobart Hurricanes as big moves continue ahead of the next Rebel WBBL season.
Villani, who was born in Victoria and is based in Melbourne, moves to the Stars following a four-year stint with the Perth Scorchers where she amassed 1706 runs, making her the league’s third-highest run scorer.
"It’s exciting to come home to Melbourne for the WBBL. I feel as though the Stars is a good fit for me as I really like the culture they have developed,” Villani said.
"I can’t wait to join up with the entire squad come the start of the season and I am eager to see where this team can go, both on the field and how we can continue to build on a strong culture off the field.”
Villani, a member of Australia’s Ashes squad, will have plenty of international commitments on her plate before the WBBL rolls around.
She will depart for the Ashes series in England at the end of June and can also expect to be in action in an away series against the West Indies, followed by a home series against Sri Lanka before the WBBL.
The Melbourne Stars will be hoping the presence of Villani adds some much-needed flair and experience to the side after finishing the WBBL|04 season in second-last position on the ladder.
"Elyse is a world-class cricketer and we are very happy to gain her signature. I’m sure she’ll come in and have an immediate impact,” Melbourne Stars coach David Hemp said.
"We’re looking forward to seeing what Elyse will bring to the team, not only on the field but the influence she’ll have on the younger players in helping them to develop their games,” Hemp said.
Down in Hobart, 21-year-old fast bowler Belinda Vakarewa is the third new signing for the Hurricanes, following their recruitment of Nicola Carey and Tayla Vlaeminck.
Vakarewa has one ODI cap, is a member of the Australia’s National Performance Squad and moves to the Hurricanes after four seasons with the Sydney Thunder.
"The move to Tasmania is a great opportunity to further my development," Vakarewa said.
"I know that I'm joining a program that is on the rise and I'll be doing all I can to contribute as much as possible."
The standalone WBBL starts October 18 at North Sydney Oval and will be highlighted by seven consecutive festival weekends around the country that will culminate in a Finals Festival Weekend on December 7-8.