Perth Scorchers WBBL|08 Preview: Can they defend their title?

After winning their maiden title last season, the Perth Scorchers will be looking to back up their performance in WBBL|08, retaining a core group of players from the Championship-winning team.


The Perth Scorchers won their maiden WBBL title last season on their third attempt, after finishing runners-up in WBBL|02 and WBBL|03. The side finished first and won automatic qualification to The Final, beating the Adelaide Strikers by 12 runs.

The Scorchers have retained much of their Championship-winning side, with Heather Graham, the fourth-highest wicket-taker from last season the most notable absentee, having left during the off-season to join the Hurricanes. However, the Scorchers have added a couple of new faces in Maddy Darke, Maddy Green, and Charis Bekker to try and cover the hole left by Graham.

How they did last year

1st - Champions (nine wins, three losses, 20 points)

The Scorchers won four of their first seven resulted matches to begin the season - including two super over victories against the Heat and Strikers. In the second half of the season, the side won five matches in a row to finish on top of the table and go straight into the decider, adding a WBBL trophy to their cabinet for the first time in franchise history.

Opening pair Sophie Devine and Beth Mooney were destructive at the top of the order. Devine was named captain in the WBBL|07 Team of the Tournament and took the honours as the Scorchers' MVP, while Mooney was the top run-scorer of WBBL|07, scoring 547 runs at an average of 49.72 with four half-centuries and a century - scoring 101* in a win against the Renegades.

How they can improve

The Scorchers are a mostly complete team, with strong contributors with the bat and the ball. The likes of Mooney and Devine with the bat, and Kapp and King with the ball is almost enough to get the Scorchers over the line in most cases.

The room for improvement for the Scorchers though is to see the continued development of, and consistent contributions from their remaining squad members to complete a more rounded team in terms of output and not see a reliance on a few known contributors, no matter if they're match-winners still.

Giving opportunities to other up-and-coming players, and having them take advantage of their opportunities when it comes time to perform, will place them in a great position down the line, and give them the confidence to perform in bigger moments when it matters.

List changes

Returning: Sophie Devine (c) (New Zealand), Marizanne Kapp (South Africa), Alana King, Beth Mooney, Mathilda Carmichael, Piepa Cleary, Amy Edgar, Lilly Mills, Chloe Piparo, Taneale Peschel

In: Maddy Green (New Zealand), Holly Ferling (Melbourne Renegades), Maddy Darke (Melbourne Stars), Charis Bekker, Georgia Wyllie

Out: Heather Graham (Hobart Hurricanes), Chamari Athapaththu (Sri Lanka), Samantha Betts, Ashley Day, Lisa Griffith

Biggest strength

The bowling stocks the Scorchers have at their disposal puts them above many other teams in the competition, with the variety and versatility of their options being used to great effect throughout a game, and across the season.

First-year Scorchers Lilly Mills and Alana King were the equal-fifth-highest wicket-takers of WBBL|07, each picking up 16 wickets. Mills had the second-best average in the competition with 12.81, while King went for under six runs an over (5.84).

Last season, Devine wasn't afraid to bowl the likes of Mills and King amongst the more established duo of Graham and Kapp, even if it was one over spells, to keep the opposition guessing and on their toes in terms of who was bowling and what type of style of delivery, a strategy that worked to great effect and may work again in WBBL|08.

Biggest weakness

Relying on Devine and Mooney at the top of the order can be a blessing for the Scorchers if the pair get going and last deep into the game. However, the remainder of the batting lineup, without being afforded many chances to go to the middle themselves, can sometimes see their own game falter due to a lack of opportunities.

Mooney (547 runs) and Devine (442 runs) combined for 61 per cent of Perth's total runs scored in WBBL|07. The next best hitter for the Scorchers was Piparo, who scored 216 runs.

While the middle order were able to spend some time in the middle, the limited minutes and deliveries often meant they were unable to get their eye in for long, or build a score for themselves. If on the off chance that the openers do fall, the attention will be on the ability for the middle order to pick up the bulk of the runs, something they weren't required to do all too often last season, which could be a detriment.

Rising star

After not being afforded many opportunities in two seasons at the Heat - playing just one game -, Mills impressed in her first season with the Scorchers. With more chances to showcase her skillset, she became one of the game's bright stars, contributing well to her side's tilt at the title, stepping up and performing in games where it mattered.

The 21-year-old was the competition's equal-fifth-highest wicket-taker with 16 scalps to her name, being her team's top wicket-taker in three matches, including best figures of 4/25 against the Renegades.

This current WNCL season has seen her slowly coming into her role for Western Australia, picking up five wickets in four matches so far.

Predicted lineup

1) Sophie Devine
2) Beth Mooney
3) Maddy Green
4) Mathilda Carmichael
5) Marizanne Kapp
6) Maddy Darke
7) Chloe Piparo
8) Alana King
9) Lilly Mills
10) Taneale Peschel
11) Piepa Cleary

Prediction for WBBL|08

The Scorchers have kept what is a competitive list this season, and the talent of a championship-winning side coming together again should put the team in a good position to contend again in WBBL|08. It will be head coach Shelly Nitschke's final season in the role, as she was made the head coach of the Australian women's team, and it's not out of the realm of possibility she can lead them to another title before she departs.

Prediction: 3rd