The Brisbane Heat come into WBBL|08 looking to go a little bit further than they did last time around when they lost to eventual finalist the Adelaide Strikers in The Eliminator. The Heat found momentum during the first half of the WBBL|07 season, winning their first five matches before falling away slightly towards the end of the year losing three of their last four.
Like many of the teams in the competition, Brisbane was led by their opening batters who are both on the fringes of the Australian team - Georgia Redmayne and the big-hitting Grace Harris. The pair finished with 857 runs between them, both at a strike rate of more than 120. Once again it will be these two players who will need to lead the Heat forwards towards their march to finals this coming season.
With the ball, there was once again a clear standout and that is Australian superstar and possibly the next captain of the national team, Jess Jonassen. Her left-arm spin took 21 wickets at an average of less than 15. If she can chip in a little more with the bat improving on an average of 12.62 with the bat then the Heat's chances of finals success rise exponentially.
Overall though, finishing third on the ladder and losing to the fourth-placed Strikers wasn’t good enough, but the good news for Heat fans is some quality recruiting should see the side improve.
How they did last year
3rd - The Eliminator Final (eight wins, five losses, 17 points)
The Heat had a good season overall but when it came to crunch time, were clearly behind the Strikers and Scorchers when it comes to quality and most importantly, consistency. The Heat may have been unfortunate to not play The Eliminator Final in their home state, instead having to go to Adelaide and the only posting 114 runs in their 20 overs, but with Grace Harris and Redmayne being the only batters to score half-centuries in the season, the inconsistency is obvious.
One particular development that Heat fans will be keen to watch this season is the development of Georgia Voll who scored 282 runs last year and seems to be going from strength to strength. Courtney Sippel was also impressive with 12 wickets at 17.58 and she comes into the season with good form having taken at least two wickets in each of her last five matches.
How can they improve
Consistency is key across a 14-match season and the best way to improve will be for the batters that aren’t named Harris or Redmayne to score more runs. With the power surge coming into the competition the Heat will be looking to capitalise on their power. One way they will be able to do this is through Harris, who struck a record-breaking century in the WNCL only weeks ago.
To improve, the Heat have completely changed their overseas players after a pretty disappointing showing from their pair of South African batters who scored just 105 runs across the 19 games between them. Indian all-rounder Pooja Vastrakar is one of the big names to come in who will provide both bowling skill with her averaging 23 in T20I cricket and batting power that is shown by a strike rate of 126 when playing for her home country, which will be ideal for the power surge in the latter overs.
Returning: Jess Jonassen* (c), Zoe Cooke, Nicola Hancock, Grace Harris, Laura Harris, Mikayla Hinkley, Ellie Johnston, Charli Knott, Georgia Redmayne, Courtney Sippel, Georgia Voll
In: Amelia Kerr (New Zealand), Pooja Vastrakar (India), Danni Wyatt (England), Grace Parsons, Jess Kerr (New Zealand - Replacement Player), Lucy Hamilton (Replacement Player)
Out: Georgia Prestwidge, Anneke Bosch (South Africa), Nadine de Klerk (South Africa), Poonam Yadav (India)
The Heat’s game has one massive stand out and that is their ability to score quickly compared to many of their opponents. Only two of their top seven scores went at slower than a strike rate of 110. And with the power surge coming in, their ability through the Harris sisters to clear the infield and the ropes during that two-over period will be vital.
The Heat passed 150 runs on five occasions last season, more than any other side. But their high-risk high reward game can also come with danger. Twice against the Strikers they were kept to less than 115 runs, while the Stars kept the Heat to just 95 runs in their group match which the Stars then went on to win by eight wickets.
The Heat's important overseas players in Pooja Vastrakar, Danni Wyatt and Amelia Kerr as well as the temporary replacement player Jess Kerr all can clear the rope, as well as providing plenty of middle-order runs, something the Heat were lacking last season.
While the Heat have the ability to score quickly, it will be their ability to take wickets which could be an issue this time around. Jess Jonassen comes back and will be vital and is in good form having taken a wicket in each of her last seven matches dating back to the Commonwealth Games earlier in the year.
However, with Poonam Yadav leaving the squad and being replaced by an all-rounder rather than an out-and-out bowler in Pooja Vastrakar, the Heat could struggle. Last season, Yadav took 10 wickets to complement the 21 by Jonassen.
Perhaps the answer is for Nicola Hancock who had a great season last year with 14 wickets to do the same this time around along with Sippel who took 12. Amelia Kerr will really need to be the difference though as she comes in attempting to rip some massive leg spinners.
Queensland cricket overall is in a great spot and part of the reason is the up-and-coming superstar Georgia Voll. While she hasn’t yet played for Australia, there is no doubt that she will be afforded a chance to go down that road sooner rather than later. With a spot having opened up with Meg Lanning on a break and Rachel Haynes retiring, it could even be this year that we see her in green and gold.
Just under a month ago, Voll posted 145 runs from 161 balls in Queensland's win over New South Wales. Voll also can bowl some underrated off-spin which might get a run in the WBBL. She scored 282 runs last year to prove she can do it at the top level and there is no doubt she will do it again, likely batting at three for the Heat.
1) Grace Harris
2) Georgia Redmayne
3) Georgia Voll
4) Mikayla Hinkley
5) Laura Harris
6) Amelia Kerr
7) Jess Jonassen
8) Zoe Cooke
9) Jess Kerr
10) Nicola Hancock
11) Courtney Sippel
Prediction for WBBL|08
This season really could be anything for the Heat. They have the ability to post a total of 200 if things go well but as they showed last year, also be bowled out for very low scores. That being said, their international imports are a massive benefit this year and much improved over last year’s recruits. The Heat will still be in the top half of the competition and will likely compete for a spot in the finals, though still appear to be a step behind the Scorchers and Strikers.
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