Thursday, January 26, 2023

SACA: SA Scorpions WNCL Season Preview

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The SA Scorpions will be determined to back up a strong 2021-22 campaign when the Women’s National Cricket League season begins this week.

The WNCL returns to a full fixture for the first time in more than a decade with all seven teams scheduled to play each other twice over the summer.

South Australia will host six matches at the picturesque Karen Rolton Oval, including the Scorpions’ two opening games against Victoria on Friday and Sunday – both beginning at 10am.

International star Megan Schutt has been reappointed to captaincy duties this season, resuming the role after missing the 2021-22 summer to play a vital part in Australia’s stunning surge to secure the Ashes, World Cup and Commonwealth Games gold.

Schutt spoke of the excitement felt within the group ahead of their season opener.

“I’m so excited to pull on the red, I didn’t get to last season, so it has been a while,” Schutt said.

“I watched a lot of the season on my phone while travelling and so now to be jumping on the field, it’ll be so exciting and hopefully we can put out strong performances.

“To be able to start the season at home is a real cracker for us, especially against a strong side in Victoria, I think we can really show our worth. Hopefully the weather holds out and fans can enjoy some really good cricket.”

Head Coach Luke Williams said the players were eager to attack the new season.

“We can’t wait to get out there with an expanded WNCL fixture, which everyone is super excited about,” Williams said.

“Coming off a good season last summer, everyone is looking forward to putting the red uniform on and getting out there at Karen Rolton Oval on Friday.”

The Scorpions soared to last summer’s WNCL decider but were unable to overcome Tasmania at Blundstone Arena, despite a brilliant 88 from 2021-22 leading run-scorer and McCauley Medallist Courtney Webb against her old side.

The squad’s core group remains largely the same, although the retirement of South Australian stalwart Tegan McPharlin will be a significant change after her stellar 15-year stint behind the stumps.

Big-hitting right-hander Madeline Penna headlines this year’s inclusions and will add power and depth to the side’s middle order after crossing from the ACT Meteors.

Local duo Ella Wilson (Glenelg) and Paris Hall (West Torrens) signed their first state contracts and will be in contention for WNCL debuts when the squads depth gets tested once the Australian contracted players take to the international stage.

With the bat, the ever-consistent Bridget Patterson will again be key at the top of the order and she has set the tone during the Scorpions’ pre-season practice matches in Perth. Opening partner Emma de Broughe, who scored three half-centuries last season and 48 in the Final, has put a promising hockey career on hold and will be eyeing another big summer.

South Australia’s bowling attack is world class at full strength, spearheaded by Schutt, McGrath, Brown and spinners Amanda-Jade Wellington and Jemma Barsby, who led the squad astutely as captain last season.

Seamers Ellie Falconer (14 wickets) and Samantha Betts (11) were the team’s two top wicket-takers last year and underline the exciting depth available to Williams.

“Competition for spots is a good thing, that pressure for selection drives training standards and only makes us better as a whole,” he said.

“I feel like we’ve got a good mix of experience and youth this year. Our new players have brought real energy to the squad and we’re looking forward to seeing what they can bring this season and beyond.

“If you look through the seven WNCL squads, there’s a lot of talent on paper. We’re under no illusions as to how well we’ll have to play to perform strongly in this tournament.”

Entry is free to all WNCL matches this summer.

South Australia 2022-23 contract list: Jemma Barsby, Sam Betts, Darcie Brown (Cricket Australia contract), Emma de Broughe, Josie Dooley, Ellie Falconer, Paris Hall, Brooke Harris, Tahlia McGrath (Cricket Australia contract), Annie O’Neil, Bridget Patterson, Madeline Penna, Kate Peterson, Megan Schutt (Cricket Australia contract), Courtney Webb, Amanda-Jade Wellington, Ella Wilson.

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