The Sydney Sixers have landed a major blow on their local rivals before the Rebel Women’s Big Bash League season has even started, luring rising fast bowler Lauren Cheatle away from the Thunder.
Cheatle has become the first player to sign a multi-year Women’s Big Bash deal with the Sixers, committing to the reigning champions until the end of WBBL|05.
The 18-year-old left-arm quick, who made her Australian debut in January 2016, is on the comeback trail after shoulder surgery ruled her out of the Women’s World Cup.
Her exciting performances in the inaugural season of the WBBL saw her make her T20I debut aged 17 and after illness limited her to just seven matches in WBBL|02, Sixers head coach Ben Sawyer is confident Cheatle will produce a successful season in the magenta.
"We are very excited to have secured the services of Lauren for the next 3 seasons,” Sawyer said.
“I have been lucky enough to work with Lauren from a young age and it was evident even back then that Lauren was going to be a success in this game.
“Her skill set, but more importantly, her attitude and personality complement the attacking mindset that this squad has developed over the past two seasons.
“Lauren's left arm swing bowling is a skill that we were looking to add to our attack and we are excited to see her take it up to opposition batters in WBBL|03."
Cheatle is the first official player signing from the Sixers ahead of the third season of the WBBL, but talented allrounder Ashleigh Gardner has also confirmed she’ll remain in magenta this summer despite a move to South Australia in the 50-over Women’s National Cricket League.
Sixers General Manager Dominic Remond said the multi-year deals would bring greater stability to the competition.
“With the ushering in of the new MOU, we can finally offer multi-year contracts that will allow us to build consistency into our team structure and plan for the future,” Remond said.
“Lauren’s signature is a wonderful addition to a very strong squad and we are hopeful of keeping many of our Championship players together for the foreseeable future.”
Sydney Thunder General Manager Lee Germon said the club was disappointed to lose the teenager.
"Lauren was a highly thought of member of our squad and we are disappointed to lose her," Germon said.
"She played a big part in us winning the inaugural WBBL and has a bright future ahead of her and we wish her all the best."
The Thunder will be looking to fill at least four places on their list for the upcoming season, with former Australia spinner Erin Osborne, alongside Stef Daffara and Claire Koski, not offered contracts for WBBL|03.
Cheatle’s cross-town move is the second WBBL signing shock this week, after injured Australia captain Meg Lanning signed with Perth Scorchers following her surprise departure from the Melbourne Stars.
Lanning, who captained the Melbourne Stars in the first two editions of the Women’s Big Bash League, parted ways with the club earlier this week and her deal with the Scorchers will see her in orange until the end of the 2019-20 season.
While the world’s best batter, who led the run scoring in both WBBL seasons to date, has already been ruled out of WBBL|03 after undergoing shoulder surgery, the multi-year deal means Scorchers fans will have the chance to watch Lanning in action in WBBL|04 and WBBL|05.
Beth Mooney (Brisbane Heat) and Sophie Molineux (Melbourne Renegades) are the other two players to sign Big Bash deals this week.
The WBBL season will begin with the opening weekend on December 9-10 at North Sydney Oval.
First ODI Allan Border Field, October 22
Brisbane Charity Partner: Lord Mayor's Charitable Trust
Second ODI Coffs International Stadium, October 26
Third ODI Coffs International Stadium, October 29
Day-Night Test North Sydney Oval, November 9-12
First T20 North Sydney Oval, November 17
North Sydney Charity Partner: McGrath Foundation
Second T20 Manuka Oval, November 19
Third T20 Manuka Oval, November 21
Canberra Charity Partner: Lord's Taverners ACT