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WNCL Lowdown

When, Where, Who and What is the WNCL?

As the autumn season officially started in the UK, a little 50 over tournament down under in Australia entered its 27th season. That tournament of course being the Women’s National Cricket League.

This may be the first time you’ve heard of the very thing, or maybe you've heard a commentator drop it in a random match every now and then, either way I'll tell you all you need to know about the comp and this year’s edition!

Let’s start with a basic one.. What is the WNCL?

Well, I've just told you that it's the Women’s National Cricket League, though that gives absolutely no clues as to what the tournament actually is. No worries; I'll help you out here! The WNCL sits at the highest point on the domestic cricket tier system over in Ozzyland alongside the lucrative WBBL (Women’s Big Bash League - I promise it’s as fun as it sounds) which is their T20 tourney.

This is the 50 over-a-side competition, dealing with 7 teams from all around the country, though it wasn't always like this. The Australian Capital Territory side (ACT Meteors) only recently joined in on the WNCL action in the 2009-10 season and the Tasmanian Tigers a year later.

The Meteors are quite a unique team as they don't have an equivalent men’s team in the Marsh Cup. Though the side’s success is limited to a hat-trick of 3rd places in their earlier years, they've done a great job in nurturing talents such as Sam Bates, Maitlan Brown and hosting renowned international stars in Dané van Niekerk and Marizanne Kapp.

Over the years the WNCL has been massively dominated by the New South Wales Breakers, in the 27 seasons the WNCL has run, NSW has won 20 of them. And even when they hadn't won, they came runners up - the only exceptions to this formula being the past two seasons where they recorded their worst ever WNCL results: 4th (2020-21) & 3rd (2021-22).

While there’s been a dip in the Breakers golden and silver form, we've had some spectacular winners to take their place. In the 2021-22 season, Tasmania took a hard-fought & convincing win over South Australia in last year's final to claim their first crown in a heavily COVID & interrupted season. In the season before that, we saw another first time winner in Queensland, who bowled Victoria out for a measly 205 in reply to the Fire’s 317-8 in a spectacular final.

Long story short: this year’s title is as good as anyone’s!

The WNCL has been highly regarded as the premier 50 over competition in women’s cricket due to the fact that its level of professionalism is (most likely) the highest level you can find in the women’s game.

All the way back in 2017, Cricket Australia upped the female payment pool for the WNCL massively, growing from $7.5million ASD (about $1m for each team to spread across a 15+ player squad) to a whopping $55.2million ASD. This breakthrough is majorly recognised as a key role in the development and growth of professionalism in Australian women’s cricket.

But who plays in the WNCL?

We’ve got: the previously mentioned Australian Capital Territory (don't worry, just call them the ACT Meteors if you’re a smidge on the lazy side), Queensland Fire, Tasmanian Tigers, Victoria - a.k.a the Victorian Spirit? Barely any people call them that, but do as you please -, New South Wales Breakers, South Australia Scorpions and Western Australia who used to be called Western Fury, but I'd bring it back if I were WA; every team they’d come against would forfeit in fear.

Does my fave play in the WNCL?

Hm, I’m not too sure on that one, not really a qualified mind reader despite my best efforts. I’ll tell you who's playing this year and you can tell me. (Bold indicates current internationals - last 6 months)

ACT Meteors: Katie Mack ©, Rebecca Carter, Annie Wikman, Angela Reakes, Olivia Porter, Carly Leeson, Matilda Lugg, Kayla Burton, Angelina Genford, Chloe Rafferty, Holly Ferling, Zoe Cooke, Gabby Sutcliffe, Amy Yates, Alisha Bates

NSW Breakers: Phoebe Litchfield, Anika Learoyd, Claire Moore, Ashleigh Gardner, Saskia Horley (Scotland), Erin Burns, Hannah Darlington, Sammy-Jo Johnson, Tahlia Wilson, Alyssa Healy (C & WK), Lauren Smith, Jade Allen, Ebony Hoskin, Stella Campbell, Emma Hughes, Lauren Cheatle, Maitlan Brown

Victoria: Meg Lanning (C), Tiana Atkinson, Olivia Henry, Annabel Sutherland, Sophie Day, Kim Garth, Rhiann O'Donnell, Makinley Blows, Ellyse Perry, Sophie Molineux, Lucy Cripps, Tess Flintoff, Georgia Wareham, Nicole Faltum, Sophie Reid, Rhys McKenna, Tayla Vlaeminck, Ella Hayward, Samantha Bates

Tasmanian Tigers: Elyse Villani ©, Naomi Stalenberg, Emma Thompson, Rachel Trenaman, Heather Graham, Maisy Gibson, Nicola Carey, Sasha Moloney, Emma Manix-Geeves, Hayley Silver-Holmes, Amy Smith, Molly Strano, Clare Scott, Julia Cavanough, Callie Wilson

South Australian Scorpions: Emma de Broughe, Annie O'Neil, Courtney Webb, Bridget Patterson, Tahlia McGrath, Amanda-Jade Wellington, Madeline Penna, Jemma Barsby ©, Kate Peterson, Ella Wilson, Josie Dooley, Paris Hall, Ellie Falconer, Samantha Betts, Darcie Brown, Megan Schutt, Brooke Harris

Western Australia: Mathilda Carmichael, Amy Edgar, Chloe Piparo, Ashley Day, Georgia Wyllie, Piepa Cleary, Lisa Griffith, Alana King, Charis Bekker, Lilly Mills, Maddy Darke, Beth Mooney, Poppy Stockwell, Taneale Peschel, Sheldyn Cooper, Zoe Britcliffe

Queensland Fire: Laura Kimmince, Mikayla Hinkley, Charli Knott, Grace Harris, Georgia Voll, Jess Jonassen, Ellie Johnston, Ruth Johnston, Caitlin Mair, Georgia Redmayne, Lucy Hamilton, Georgia Prestwidge, Grace Parsons, Courtney Sippel, Nicola Hancock

Where do they play?

But where do they actually play? If you find yourself in Australia wanting to catch some of this exciting 50 over action, where do you go?

Western Australia find themselves finally hosting home games again after tricky COVID restrictions last year prevented them from doing so, taking place at the WACA Ground, Perth.

If you happen to find yourself rooting for the Southern side, you can watch South Australian Scorpion’s home games at the Karen Rolton Oval, Adelaide, named after the iconic Aussie legend who’s won more “Player of the Tournament” awards in the WNCL then I have fingers and toes to count them with.

The New South Wales Breakers are spoilt for choice in terms of home grounds for this year. They’ll spend the first half of the tournament playing their home fixtures at the North Sydney Oval, no guesses as to which city that's located in, and their final two games at Wade Park, Orange.

2021-22 Title defenders Tasmanian Tigers will aim to please home fans at the Blundstone Arena, Hobart.

The ACT Meteors who are also fairly rich in cricket grounds have to wait until December for their first home appearance, which will first be at the Manuka Oval, Canberra, then their final four at the EPC Solar Park, Canberra.

The Queensland Fire have by far the most choice in grounds, with a stonking 3 venues to play their home games at! They’ll first find themselves at the Bill Pippen Oval, Gold Coast in October, the Allan Border Field, Brisbane in January and then the Ian Healy Oval (also in Brisbane) later on in the month.

And finally, Victoria. They play all theirs at the CitiPower Centre, St Kilda.

What’s so special about this season? Why’s there so much hype?

This season is the first season back from COVID-19 restrictions, which heavily impacted last year's season, and is playing to its allocated schedule. Last year, there were doubts about whether there would actually be any running of the 26th edition! It was postponed due to the COVID outbreaks in Australia - which then had a knock on effect on all sports down under.

Teams like Western Australia suffered the wrath of the COVID restrictions; they were unable to enter their state meaning they had to make a complete revision of their schedule. This led to them being on the road more often than not as they had to squeeze in 7 fifty-over matches in 21 days - less than ideal for all involved.

The rescheduled tournament ended up clashing with the Women’s Cricket World Cup, meaning states were without their standout Aussie stars but made for an amazing display of Australia’s great domestic talents.

This year the internationals finally return to their teams - captains of Victoria and New South Wales Meg Lanning and Alyssa Healy, handy allrounder Ellyse Perry and WA’s newest recruit Beth Mooney are just a few of the mega stars competing this year.

Will we see New South Wales return to their winning ways? Will we see Western Australia recover from their winless last season going from worst to first? Will one of the first time winners upgrade the count to 2?

We'll just have to wait and see!

Where can I find this year’s fixtures?

Good ol’ has got you all sorted for this year’s WNCL Fixtures!

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