The Adelaide Strikers will be without captain Suzie Bates this season Weber WBBL, but have moved quickly to sign a big-name replacement, with South African skipper Dane van Niekerk joining the club.
New Zealand star Bates has been a staple of the blue since WBBL | 02 but has pulled out of WBBL | 07 due to international travel challenges following the closure of the trans-Tasman bubble.
The all-rounder has been on tour in England with the White Ferns, and the team are guaranteed a place in hotel quarantine when they return home to New Zealand this week.
No such guarantee would have been available to Bates if she had instead traveled to Australia for the Big Bash; With a strict cap on managed isolation locations, there are currently over 30,000 Kiwis worldwide waiting to return home, a cohort that includes players stranded in Australia when the NRLW season was postponed last month.
“By the time I had to make the decision I had a seat reserved by New Zealand Cricket to take me back to New Zealand and if I gave it up to fly directly to Australia there was a good chance of being stranded in Australia after the Big Bash, ”Bates explained.
“It wasn’t a risk I was willing to take with what the White Ferns have to come this summer, including a home World Cup (starting in March).
“I love this club; I love playing for the Strikers so it was not an easy decision but I can’t wait to follow and support the team as best I can.”
Bates is not the first New Zealander to withdraw from the tournament; Amelia Kerr had previously given up her contract with the Brisbane Heat to focus on her sanity, while WBBL regulars Lea Tahuhu and Amy Satterthwaite will not appear this season.
Van Niekerk was no deal with the WBBL after parting ways with the Sydney Sixers at the end of WBBL | 06, and after hitting form in The Hundred in July and August, the 28-year-old made an ideal replacement for Bates.
The leg-spinning all-rounder has suffered a series of injuries over the past two years but has played in Britain’s new 100-ball competition. the Oval Originals for the inaugural title.
“It’s no coincidence that Dane has played in winning teams, she leads by example and always performs on the biggest stages,Adelaide Strikers coach Luke Williams said.
“Dane is coming to Australia in incredible form following The Hundred tour and from South Africa to the West Indies and we can’t wait to see her on the pitch as a Striker.“
Van Niekerk joins his South African compatriot Laura Wolvaardt with the Strikers and probably completes their contingent abroad.
Each club can have a maximum of five top players, including Australians under contract with AC. If, as expected, Megan Schutt re-signs, she will take the fifth and final marquee position.
The Strikers also announced a new national signing, with left-arm Orthodox pitcher Nell Bryson-Smith added to the squad.
A replacement for the Hobart Hurricanes last season, signing NSW-based Bryson-Smith provides a point of difference with the Strikers’ offense.
Meanwhile, the Brisbane Heat have confirmed the re-signing of Courtney Sippel and the addition of top-notch thresher Ellie Johnson, who signed her first Big Bash contract.
Sippel, 20, has appeared in seven WBBL games | 06 and participated in Queensland’s final WNCL victory over Victoria, winning three wickets in the decider. Johnson was also part of that triumphant Fire XI after making his debut earlier in the season.
List of WBBL | 07 strikers to date: Darcie Brown *, Sarah Coyte, Tahlia McGrath *, Tegan McPharlin, Katie Mack, Bridget Patterson, Maddie Penna, Dane van Niekerk (SA), Amanda-Jade Wellington, Laura Wolvaardt (SA)
In: Dane van Niekerk (Sixers), Jemma Barsby (Scorchers)
Outside: Suzie Bates, Ellen Falconer (Renegades)
WBBL | 06 players out of contract: Megan Schutt *, Annie Neil, Alex Price, Stafanie Taylor (WI)
* Player under contract with Australia