Australia head coach Matthew Mott is already plotting new tactics for some of the biggest names in world cricket, while watching them star in the Rebel WBBL.
Much as been said about the opportunities the league provides for overseas players to experience Australian conditions – a factor that could be crucial with the T20 World Cup to be held here next February and March – but Mott said it has likewise given the Australian brains trust a chance to scope out the competition at close range.
WBBL Finals: Allan Border Field
First semi-final: Strikers v Scorchers, Saturday 10.10am (11.10am AEDT)
Second semi-final: Heat v Renegades, Saturday 1.50pm (2.50pm AEDT)
Final: SF1 v SF2, Sunday 1.40pm (2.40pm AEDT)
Tune in to the WBBL finals on the Seven Network, Fox Cricket, Kayo, the CA Live app or listen on ABC radio
"I’ve already had a quiet chat with (assistant coach) Shelley Nitschke about some of the plans we might come up with," Mott told cricket.com.au.
"Everyone sees that it’s a great learning opportunity for the international players to come here and do well.
"But it’s also great for us to be able to see them live and try and construct some plans to counteract them."
New Zealand and Adelaide Strikers allrounder Sophie Devine has taken the league by storm this season, named Player of the Tournament earlier this week after topping the runs tally at the end of the season, while she has also hit a record-breaking 28 sixes and captured 16 wickets.
Australia are in the same group as New Zealand for the tournament, with the teams to meet in Melbourne on March 2.
"Sophie Devine’s had an amazing tournament, I’ve managed to watch her a couple of times and her power is incredible, really," Mott said.
"She’s always been a great player but I think she’s taken her game to another level this year.
"She looks dangerous.
"(Amelia) Kerr is evolving all the time as well, she’s bowled some good spells and played some cameos with the bat as well."
Another player Mott has been surprised by is South African batter Mignon du Preez.
While the big-hitting antics of her international teammates Lizelle Lee and Chloe Tryon are expected, du Preez showed off a new element to her game this season, elevating her scoring rate to 120.59.
"Du Preez in particular has shown real diversity to her game, moving around the crease quite a lot and upsetting the bowlers," Mott said.
"Shelly texted me when she was going berserk and said, ‘is that her twin sister who’s come out here?’
"It feels like she’s out with a lot more intent and really changed the game up."
Imports who impressed ahead of the T20 World Cup
Sophie Devine (Strikers/New Zealand)
M: 14 | Runs: 699 | Ave: 77.66 | SR: 130.16 | HS: 88 | 100s: 0 | 50s: 8
Wkts: 16 | Ave: 20.25 | Econ: 6.35 | BBI: 3-13 | SR: 19.1 | 4wi: 0
Player-of-the-tournament Devine topped the runs tally for the regular season – and hit 28 sixes, nine more than her nearest competitor – in what was her best Big Bash season with the bat yet. The pace bowler also did damage with ball in hand, forming a potent attack with Megan Schutt and collecting 16 wickets along the way.
Danni Wyatt (Melbourne Renegades/England)
M: 14 | Runs: 468 | Ave: 39 | SR: 131.83 | HS: 87 | 100s: 0 | 50s: 4
Opener Wyatt had an enormous impact on the Renegades making the top four, perfectly illustrated in her outstanding 87 against the Heat at AB Field on November 27, which set the scene for an upset win.
Amy Jones (Scorchers/England)
M: 13 | Runs: 391 | Ave: 32.58 | SR: 115.33 | HS: 80 | 100s: 0 | 50s: 3 | Ct: 3 | St: 1
Jones – who has taken over the gloves fulltime for England following the retirement of Sarah Taylor – formed a potent partnership with Meg Lanning at the top of the order for the Scorchers.
Lizelle Lee (Stars/South Africa)
M: 14 | Runs: 475 | Ave: 36.53 | SR: 131.94 | HS: 103* | 100s: 1 | 50s: 4
Lee only just missed out on a place in the team of the tournament and was one of the shining lights for the Stars in an otherwise bleak season, scoring a century and providing stacks of entertainment as she hit 19 sixes for the tournament.
Nat Sciver (Scorchers/England)
M: 13 | Runs: 342 | Ave: 38 | SR: 123.02 | HS: 55* | 100s: 0 | 50s: 2
Wkts: 6 | Ave: 39 | Econ: 6.75 | BBI: 2-18 | SR: 34.6 | 4wi: 0
Mignon du Preez (Stars/South Africa)
M: 14 | Runs: 404 | Ave: 28.85 | SR: 120.59 | HS: 88 | 100s: 0 | 50s: 3
Du Preez, better known for run-a-ball batting, has unlocked a new level in her game this year. Her strike rate is up significantly and she’s accessing new areas of the ground, in promising signs for the Proteas.
Chloe Tryon (Hurricanes/South Africa)
M: 13 | Runs: 248 | Ave: 35.42 | SR: 178.41 | HS: 46* | 100s: 0 | 50s: 0
Tryon potentially didn’t get as much time in the middle as she would have liked this season, batted well down the order. But when she did get a chance, she was explosive. Just look at that strike rate.
Marizanne Kapp (Sydney Sixers/South Africa)
M: 14 | Wkts: 15 | Ave: 20.2 | Econ: 6.01 | BBI: 3-16 | SR: 20.1 | 4wi: 0
Kapp continued her knack for picking up big wickets in the power play, showing off her abilities with the bat as well, scoring two half-centuries during the campaign.
Amelia Kerr (Heat/New Zealand)
M: 14 | Wkts: 12 | Ave: 25.41 | Econ: 6.18 | BBI: 3-8 | SR: 24.6 | 4wi: 0
Teenage leggie Kerr made a splash with three wickets in an over in her Big Bash debut and she remained a threat, finishing as the competition’s most miserly spinner.
Lea Tahuhu (Renegades/New Zealand)
M: 14 | Wkts: 9 | Ave: 35.44 | Econ: 5.9 | BBI: 2-20 | SR: 36 | 4wi: 0
Not Tahuhu’s most prolific season in terms of taking wickets but she has been economical and it’s often paid off at the other end.
Shabnim Ismail (Thunder/South Africa)
M: 13 | Wkts: 10 | Ave: 30 | Econ: 5.88 | BBI: 3-14 | SR: 30.6 | 4wi: 0
Like Tahuhu, Ismail wasn’t tearing teams apart – but she sure was not letting them score easily off her, either.
Other imports in WBBL|05
Suzie Bates (Strikers): 297 runs at 22.84
Rachel Priest (Thunder): 296 at 22.76
Maddy Green (Heat): 252 runs at 19.38
Katey Martin (Stars): 74 runs at 10.57
Heather Knight (Hurricanes): 282 at 23.5
Tammy Beaumont (Renegades): 277 at 23.08
Fran Wilson (Hurricanes): 210 at 17.5
Lauren Winfield (Strikers): 105 runs at 17.5
Dane van Niekerk (Sixers): 9 wickets at 29.11
Kim Garth (Scorchers): 13 wickets at 23.53
Stafanie Taylor (Strikers)*
*Called away on international commitments after two games