Last season was a total disappointment for the Sixers. With a star-studded lineup, hopes were high that the Sixers could return to hot form, as the most successful side in the history of the WBBL.

Instead, injuries, COVID-19 and chaos wreaked havoc on a side that underachieved and was left at the bottom of the table, prompting major changes, including a new coach, Charlotte Edwards.

On the road for the entire season, they finished with more losses than wins, including finishing with six consecutive losses.

Lauren Cheatle (with the ball) and Ellyse Perry (with the bat) were the Sixers' best, but it was not enough to take them anywhere near the finals.

How they did last year

Eighth - Four wins, nine losses, 9 points)

The Sixers jumped out of the blocks for the first two matches of their season, despite the fact that Erin Burns was ruled out at the last minute, after being unable to secure an exemption to cross the border into Tasmania.

As the tournament started to hit its straps, the Sixers sandwiched an abandoned match into a three-match losing streak, as they struggled to score more than 120 runs in most innings.

Alyssa Healy and Ash Gardner briefly hit a rich vein of form, giving the Sixers back-to-back wins, before a six-match losing streak kicked off. In that streak, the Sixers batted first each time and were unable to defend a score well enough to secure the points.

How they can improve

Tight bowling will make a huge difference. Lauren Cheatle was the only bowler the Sixers had that went for less than a run a ball, and each of the rest of the regular bowlers conceded closer to eight runs an over than six.

When you look at the fact that the Sixers were unable to defend a target late in the season, the ability to slow down the opposition batters, push up the run rate and stifle the chase was clearly lacking. For the Sixers to be a force this season, that will need to change.

There is also a tactical element to suggest that if you are batting first six times in six matches, and lose all six, maybe winning the toss and electing to bat is the wrong move. With a new coach, Sixers fans will be hoping that the team either holds its nerve better or takes a different tact.

List changes

Returning: Ellyse Perry (c), Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jade Allen, Nicole Bolton, Maitlan Brown, Erin Burns, Stella Campbell, Lauren Cheatle.

In: Sophie Ecclestone (England), Suzie Bates (New Zealand), Angela Genford (Hurricanes), Kate Peterson (Thunder)

Out: Hayley Silver-Holmes (Hurricanes), Shafali Verma, Radha Yadav, Matilda Lugg

Biggest Strength

The Sixers' batting lineup is loaded with international superstars. Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy, Nicole Bolton, Erin Burns and Ashleigh Gardner are all household names in Australian cricket.

Aside from Gardner, they have all been such dominant names that they are synonymous with women's cricket in Australia, and have helped carry the most dominant international team ever seen.

Gardner has become a household name herself in recent years, winning the Belinda Clark Medal last year, and catapulting herself into cricket's stratosphere with her pyrotechnics at the World Cup.

Adding Suzie Bates into that list, with more than 130 T20 Internationals to her name, and more than 5000 runs across T20Is and WBBL, and the Sixers shouldn't struggle to score runs.

Biggest Weakness

Despite all the experience of the batting lineup, the bowling lineup almost completely lacks that experience. Sophie Ecclestone is the only specialist bowler with recent international experience, and otherwise, it will be a heavy reliance on the allrounders for experience.

Maitlan Brown, Stella Campbell and Lauren Cheatle have all shown great promise (and express pace) as young bowlers, but they all lack experience. Knowing how last season ended, with failed defences, and calm heads at the bowling crease late in matches was something missing.

The Sixers will be forced to rely on those young players and will be hoping they can step up in big moments this season.

Rising Star

It's almost a lottery of young fast bowlers to pick as a rising star. Stella Campbell and Maitlan Brown have both shown plenty of promise as part of Australia's battery of future international bowlers. Each has some impressive WNCL performance behind them as well.

Lauren Cheatle was a breakout star for the Sixers last year, leading the team with 10 wickets, and this season will have a chance to take it to another level.

As a young left-arm quick, her angle, action and ability to swing the ball are a point of difference not seen in the Australian women's side for a long time. Australia has a proud history of left-arm fast bowlers in men's cricket, and Cheatle has the chance to be the next great Aussie pace bowler of that ilk if she can get things going again this season.

Predicted Lineup

1) Alyssa Healy
2) Erin Burns
3) Suzie Bates
4) Ellyse Perry (C)
5) Angela Reakes
6) Nicole Bolton
7) Ashleigh Gardner
8) Maitlan Brown
9) Stella Campbell
10) Sophie Ecclestone
11) Lauren Cheatle

Prediction for WBBL|08

Under a new coach, the Sixers have too much talent to fall to the bottom of the ladder again. Charlotte Edwards and the chance to play in front of home crowds again will give the Sixers the boost that they need, and their talent will come to the fore.

Expect the most successful team in competition history to return to its rightful place amongst the heavyweights of the competition.

Prediction: 4th

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