Mere centimetres was all that stood between Melbourne Renegades and a maiden Rebel WBBL final berth last season.
Few will forget the sight of desperate Sydney Sixer Erin Burns diving to save a boundary, before a direct hit from Alyssa Healy sent the semi-final into a Super Over – and you can bet it will have been on the minds of the Renegades players through a long winter.
There’s change at the top for the Renegades this season as they look to go a step further, with Jess Duffin handed the captaincy following Amy Satterthwaite’s exciting news that she would miss season WBBL|05 while pregnant with her first child with wife and teammate Lea Tahuhu.
Coming in for Satterthwaite is gun England bat Tammy Beaumont, who will form a formidable top order alongside countrywoman Danni Wyatt.
Also joining the ‘Gades’ batting line-up is exciting young wicketkeeper-batter Josie Dooley from the Heat, but they’re without Australian speedster Tayla Vlaeminck, who has moved to the Hurricanes.
WBBL|04 result: Semi-finalist
Current squad: Tammy Beaumont (Eng), Makinley Blows, Maitlan Brown, Josie Dooley, Jess Duffin, Erica Kershaw, Claire Koski, Carly Leeson, Sophie Molineux (Aus), Courtney Neale, Molly Strano, Lea Tahuhu (NZ), Georgia Wareham (Aus), Courtney Webb, Danni Wyatt (Eng)
In: Josie Dooley (Heat), Tammy Beaumont (Eng), Makinley Blows (Stars), Carly Leeson (Sixers), Courtney Neale
Out: Tayla Vlaeminck (Hurricanes), Amy Satterthwaite (maternity), Emma Inglis, Anna Lanning, Zoe Cooke
The word from Australia great and Fox Cricket commentator Mel Jones:
"The biggest challenge for them is no Amy Satterthwaite as skipper. Sophie Molineux is key, a real livewire in the field and with the bat and the ball and real cricket smarts as well … Josie Dooley is a really exciting one (too), coming down from the Brisbane Heat. She’ll bring some firepower to the middle order, she can just manipulate field placings and play some funky shots."
One to watch: Danni Wyatt. The electric England opener loves the Big Bash, she loves playing in Melbourne and she’s coming off a stunning England Super League season, which saw her finish on top of the runs table with 466 at 42.36 for the Southern Vipers, with those runs coming at an incredible strike rate of 166.42. Her ability to score big and score quickly will be crucial for the Renegades and she’ll surely welcome the addition of her international teammate Tammy Beaumont alongside her in the top order.
The pressure is on: Pressure probably isn’t the right word as the Australian brain trust clearly regard her highly, but allrounder Sophie Molineux will be determined to put her best foot forward ahead of the T20 World Cup after a year that’s been severely interrupted by a shoulder injury. Molineux missed the ODIs against New Zealand and the start of the Ashes following surgery and while she returned to make a Test debut and play two T20Is, she then found herself back in the recovery ward, missing series against West Indies and Sri Lanka. If fit, she’s a lock for the Aussie squad, but breaking into such a successful XI – particularly given the form of fellow left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen – is another matter, and Molineux will be eager for a strong Big Bash campaign to state her case. Closer to home, the Renegades will also be looking to her to play a major role with both bat and ball if they’re to replicate last year’s finals appearance.
Possible starting XI: Danni Wyatt, Tammy Beaumont, Sophie Molineux, Jess Duffin (c), Josie Dooley, Claire Koski, Makinley Blows, Maitlan Brown, Molly Strano, Lea Tahuhu, Georgia Wareham
October 19 v Strikers, Karen Rolton Oval (2pm)
October 20 v Strikers, Karen Rolton Oval (2pm)
October 23 v Scorchers, Junction Oval (1pm)
October 26 v Thunder, Blacktown (7pm)
November 1 v Scorchers, WACA (5.40pm)
November 2 v Sixers, WACA (12.10pm)
November 9 v Hurricanes, Junction Oval (1pm)
November 10 v Hurricanes, Junction Oval (1pm)
November 17 v Sixers, Drummoyne Oval (2.10pm)
November 20 v Heat, Junction Oval (10am)
November 23 v Stars, Eastern Oval, Ballarat (2pm)
November 27 v Heat, AB Field (1.10pm)
November 30 v Renegades, Junction Oval (10.40am)
December 1 v Thunder, Junction Oval (10.40am)
All times local