Last year was a year of inconsistencies for the Hurricanes in a season where they finished sixth on the table with five wins and eight losses. One of their major issues was a lack of high-scoring matches with them only passing 160 on one occasion through the year, that being their second-to-last match against the Renegades.

The low scores are easily explained by the fact they relied on Mignon du Preez who scored 414 runs through the season while Rachel Priest was the next best with 262 runs. Almost half of those Priest runs came in a single innings where she posted 107* in a season of 262 runs overall. Molly Strano was the other batter to chip in with 145 runs at an average of 29. The Hurricane’s run rate was the big issue though with only Strano scoring at better than 6.9 runs per over.

The ‘Canes’ started their season with a couple of tight losses in the final over of matches against the Renegades and the Sixers. That was before they bowled out the Stars in their first match within three days for just 89 to win by a massive 63 runs. One of the big questions this season for Hobart is whether they can perform just as well without the eight home games that started WBBL07.

With the ball, it was clear that Tayla Vlaeminck was the best with her 13 wickets coming at an average of just 22 an economy rate of essentially six runs per over. Strano took the most wickets with 15 but even that wasn’t enough to get her in the top ten wicket-takers for the season. On stats alone, it was pretty clear the Hurricanes were just slightly behind the rest of the competition.

The good news for the Hurricanes is that their preparation has been much better this time around with COVID as well as the cold Tassie winter not wreaking havoc on their season. This is something Hurricanes batter Naomi Stalenberg spoke to when she spoke to Edge of the Crowd.

“We are lucky in Tasmania that we weren’t quite as affected by COVID as some of the other states so that didn’t affect our training all that much like it might have done in Sydney or Melbourne.

“We have a marquee that allows us to get training on turf wickets from about July so even if it’s cold and wet in Tassie then we can get out in the middle and work on our skills.”

How they did last year

6th – Group Stage (five wins and eight losses)

There is no doubt that the Hurricane's lineup is full of talent, it’s just been disappointing to not have that talent rise over the last few seasons. When they won they tended to win big with them having two of the top four winning margins last season with wins over the Melbourne teams.

It was their run of five losses in six matches through the middle though that ended any chance of a final appearance.

With wins against the Scorchers and the Renegades the first and second-finishing teams last season they showed clear signs of improvement but in a 14-match tournament, it’s all about consistency.

While a lot of teams in the WBBL rely on a couple of batters, the Scorchers being the obvious example, it’s a strategy that is fraught with danger if those players don’t fire every match. Their reliance on Rachel Priest in particular came back to bite them with the batter making four ducks out of 14 matches.

How can they improve

Consistency is key for the Hurricanes as well as building a larger group of core players who the Hurricanes can rely on rather than one or two. The way they have looked to do this is by bringing in some big-name international players who should provide plenty of skill with both and ball.

The first of these overseas players is the recently retired from international cricket Lizelle Lee who comes to the Hurricanes after also having played some WNCL cricket for Tasmania over recent weeks. She will be key in setting the pace of the innings alongside fellow South African Mignon du Preez who the Hurricanes will once again be wanting to post at least 400 runs.

“We have a really strong batting lineup this year with a lot of power. Lizelle Lee comes into the side, and she provides a lot of experience as well as big hitting. Elyse Villani will also be key as well as Mignon du Preez who had a really good season and comes back for us,” said Stalenberg of the Hurricanes imports.

The bad news for the Hurricanes is that Tayla Vlaeminck has moved out of the side instead of deciding to move to the mainland for a more lucrative offer. England’s Issy Wong was set to be the fast-bowling replacement but pulled out of the tournament late citing an injury. Stalenberg spoke on losing Wong but having the replacement Hayley Jensen coming into the squad.

“I was really looking forward to seeing Issy playing but we have a really good replacement in Hayley Jensen who also bowls really well and can hit the ball hard down the order as well.”

List Changes

Returning: Nicola Carey (CA contracted), Mignon du Preez (SA), Maisy Gibson, Ruth Johnston, Amy Smith, Naomi Stalenberg, Molly Strano, Rachel Trenaman.

Ins: Elyse Villani, Heather Graham, Hayley Silver-Holmes, Emma Manix-Geeves, Lizelle Lee (SA), Hayley Jensen (NZ), Julia Cavanough.

Outs: Tayla Vlaeminck (Renegades), Sasha Moloney (Stars), Angela Genford (Sixers), Belinda Vakarewa (Thunder), Rachel Priest, Richa Ghosh, Chloe Rafferty, Emma Thompson

Biggest Strength

The Hurricanes have certainly sure up their batting lineup with the additions of Lee and Villani as well as some lower-order hitting with Heather Graham and Hayley Jensen coming over from New Zealand. With the Power Surge coming into the WBBL for the first time it will certainly be interesting to see who they use and how they use them to capitalise on that two-over stretch in the back end of an innings.

“I’m not sure what the batting order is going to look like as of yet. But I really like batting in the middle order and now with the Power Surge coming into the competition, there is a chance to come in during that powerplay and score nice and quickly,” Stalenberg said of the power surge and the possibility of her playing in that period.

Nicola Carey is also one who goes under the radar quite often and will be key through the middle order for the Hurricanes as well as taking crucial wickets. Her 181 runs at 14 last year were nothing special but she has sown in the past an ability to find the rope.

With the ball though she will likely take the new ball and attempt to swing the ball around corners, especially in the early games in Mackay where swing will certainly be on show.

Biggest Weakness

The Hurricanes squad is certainly top-heavy this season with so many of their bowlers going to the mainland while bringing in quality batters from other teams as well as from overseas. There is a chance that Dan Marsh who is now the full-time coach has done too much to try and sure up the batting and by doing so has neglected the bowling.

Issy Wong missing out on the season is a massive loss with her set to be the x-factor player for the Hurricanes. That isn’t to be though so instead they will be looking to be slow and steady with the ball trying to keep the economy rates low and focusing less on taking wickets.

Molly Strano really will be the key with the ball this time around, last year it was 15 wickets at 24 so she will be wanting to improve those numbers going into a season where DRS is finally making an entrance, something that Stalenberg spoke down about.

“Hopefully we can get more and more games on live TV going forward, but 24 this year is really good. It’s obviously good to have DRS in the competition to eliminate some of the howlers we saw last year. But having said that I don’t think we need to put too much emphasis on it, it is what it is, but we won’t be focusing on it too much outside of the decision-makers.”

Rising Star

In a team with a weaker bowling lineup than others, the Hurricanes will be hoping that the 17-year-old Amy Smith stands up and bursts into the first XI. Having debuted in the WBBL at just 14 she has been promising a lot for a long time and now at 17 she is ready to take that next step into the limelight.

Having just taken four wickets in her 12-bowling innings last season it was far from a happy season. However, she took 11 wickets in the WNCL last year in her seven matches at an economy of just over four per over. Her ability to spin the ball a long way will be key this season. Perhaps the only thing she needs to do now is getting a little stronger and bowl slightly faster.

Likely starting XI

1) Mignon du Preez
2) Lizelle Lee
3) Elyse Villani
4) Ruth Johnston
5) Naomi Stalenberg
6) Heather Graham
7) Nicola Carey
8) Hayley Jensen
9) Hayley Silver-Holmes
10) Molly Strano
11) Amy Smith

Prediction for WBBL 08

The Hurricanes are a really talented team that has loaded up on batting talent and could simply blast away the opposition team by piling on the runs. Having said that they will struggle to defend totals with a bowling lineup that doesn’t jump off the page. Stalenberg suggests it’s just about hitting the goals and playing good cricket that will allow them to go better than last year.

“We just need to stick to our plans, hit our KPIs and we should be okay. We have a really good bowling lineup with Heather Graham Nicola Carey who bowl really well and accurate as well as Molly Strano and then young players like Amy Smith as well who I’m really looking forward to seeing.”

Prediction: 6th

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