The stars of the Rebel WBBL have been turning it on in England’s Super League competition, with some of the game’s biggest names impressing in the tournament’s third season.
Surrey Stars upset favourites Loughborough Lightning in Monday’s final in Hove, thanks to a brilliant ton from big-hitting South African Lizelle Lee.
Lee struck 104 from 58 deliveries, clearing the boundary six times as she propelled Surrey to 6-183 – a total that proved well out of Loughborough’s reach, with the Lightning bowled out for 117.
Across the globe, the Melbourne Stars would have been delighted with the display, having signed the 26-year-old for a second Women’s Big Bash season in green.
But the star of the tournament was undoubtedly India T20 vice-captain Smriti Mandhana, who was the competition’s leading run-scorer as she helped Western Storm reach the semi-finals.
Mandhana scored 421 runs in 10 matches at 60.14, those runs coming at the impressive strike rate of 174.68.
The stylish left-hander spent one season with Brisbane Heat in WBBL|02, but is not yet linked to a club for WBBL|04 – although her returns in 2018 to date are sure to have clubs interested.
Also impressive with the bat were England pair Heather Knight (368 at 46 for Western Storm) and Natalie Sciver (362 at 45.25 for Surrey), while Lee and Sydney Thunder batter Rachael Haynes (324 at 46.28) rounded out the top five run scorers.
Sciver made the move west from the Stars to the Scorchers for WBBL|03 and was a key part of their run all the way to the final. The exciting allrounder’s skills with both bat and ball mean Perth are likely eager to have her on their books again in WBBL|04.
Knight was Hurricanes captain for the first two WBBL seasons before sitting out last summer due to injury, and with a new coach in Englishwoman Salliann Briggs, the Tasmanian outfit may be hopeful of luring the England skipper back this summer.
With most Super League clubs opting to use their overseas slots to sign batters, it was largely the locals who shone with the ball.
The exception was New Zealand allrounder Sophie Devine, who captured 16 wickets at 16.18 for Loughborough, adding to the 269 runs she scored with the bat – form that will have her WBBL club Adelaide Strikers excited.
Unheralded local Kirstie Gordon topped the wickets table with 17 scalps, while England players Sophie Ecclestone (14 wickets) and Jenny Gunn (15 wickets) also impressed.
None of the trio hold WBBL deals, but the next two top wicket takers certainly do: Sydney Sixers stars Dane van Niekerk and Marizanne Kapp.
The South Africans, who captured 13 and 11 wickets respectively, will return to the magenta club this season as they eye a third consecutive WBBL title.
Meanwhile, England star Katherine Brunt – who played for the Scorchers in WBBL|03 – was the competition’s most miserly bowler, leaking an average of just 5.42 runs per over in seven Super League matches.
Currently, only Sydney Sixers and both Melbourne clubs have revealed their full complement of overseas players for WBBL|04.
Kapp, van Niekerk and Sara McGlashan will return for the Sixers, while the Stars will again field a line-up of South Africans Lee and Mignon du Preez, and England’s Georgia Elwiss.
New Zealanders Lea Tahuhu and Amy Satterthwaite are locked in again for the Renegades, alongside dynamic England batter Danni Wyatt.
CommBank T20 INTLs v NZ
September 29: First T20I, North Sydney Oval, Sydney
October 1: Second T20I, Allan Border Field, Brisbane
October 5: Third T20I, Manuka Oval, Canberra