WBBL 2023-24 – Surge boost: Sophie Devine likely to start WBBL season in middle order

Perth Scorchers captain Sophie Devine is set to take on a middle-order role for at least the first part of the WBBL campaign.
Scorchers, who missed finals last season after being champions the summer before, have stacked their top order with overseas signings through England duo Amy Jones and Lauren Winfield-Hill alongside Devine. Winfield-Hill will play the first six games before the arrival of star allrounder Nat Sciver-Brunt with the duo replacing Danni Wyatt who pulled out of her deal having been an original draft pick.
When Sciver-Brunt joins there will be further changes to the batting order, but to start the season Winfield-Hill is expected to open alongside Beth Mooney with Devine coming in at No. 4.
It’s a role she has taken for New Zealand this year, including during the recently completed tour of South Africa where she made 61 off 37 balls in the second T20I, and believes it can help Scorchers exploit the power surge – the latter two overs of the powerplay which can be taken by the batting side after the 10th over.

“That’s certainly one of the options,” Devine said. “Lauren is a world-class opener with a lot of experience. We know she can bat anywhere in the top order as well, but think certainly initially we’ll look to me to drop down the order a little bit.

“Coming off the back of the New Zealand tour, batting in that No. 4 role, it’s a role I’m starting to get a lot more comfortable with. The tempo I play at, especially with the format of the Big Bash with the surge, I think it’s a really important part. We’ve seen teams really dominate last year in terms of clear tactics and think that’s an area we can expose a bit better than we did last year.”

“In tournament like this, you need the ability to change things. We’ve got a lot of bases covered.”

The late signing of Sciver-Brunt has been controversial given she did not originally nominate for the draft due to injury. Meg Lanning has been critical of the move as Melbourne Stars would have had retention rights had she been available. When the ECB cleared her for the tournament, Scorchers had the remaining salary cap to take advantage.

“It’s an interesting one around the draft and the purpose of it,” Devine said. “With Nat’s situation and her knee injury, that’s why she didn’t enter into the draft. We certainly had no contact with her before then. Every club had the opportunity to sign Nat when she became available and she chose the Scorchers which I think shows a lot about this club.

“When a player like that comes around you snap her up with two hands. Think it’s vital we keep getting the best players in the world into his tournament, it’s what makes it so great.”

Devine herself was at the mercy of the draft with Scorchers needing to decide between her and Marizanne Kapp, although it was always felt the likely result that she would return to Perth. Kapp went to Sydney Thunder as the No. 1 pick.

“I was actually quite nervous,” she said. “Scorchers held all the cards with who they were going to retain. I probably didn’t get told too much. I had real hopes I’d come back but was also prepared if things fell the other way. I mean Marizanne Kapp is one of the best, if not the best, players in the world in this format. It’s pretty special to come back here.”

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