English players could miss WBBL final for India trip

Heather Knight, Sydney Thunder's captain, is the most significant of the potential departures

11-Nov-2023 • 4 hrs ago
Heather Knight has been a key part of Sydney Thunder's revival  •  Getty Images

Heather Knight has been a key part of Sydney Thunder's revival  •  Getty Images

WBBL clubs are facing the prospect of being robbed of marquee English players for the competition's final due to a scheduling clash.
England named their squad for a looming multi-format series in India on Friday night, with nine WBBL players included ahead of the first T20 on December 7.
The majority of those will be able to skip a team camp in Oman, but England officials have confirmed to AAP they will be expected in Mumbai by December 2. That is the same date as the WBBL final.
AAP has been told that players will be able to remain in Australia through to the end of November, meaning they would be available for all games bar the final.
Sydney Thunder captain Heather Knight headlines the list of potentially impacted players, along with Perth Scorchers pair Nat Sciver-Brunt and Amy Jones.
Thunder quick Lauren Bell, Adelaide Strikers allrounder Danielle Gibson and Brisbane Heat batter Bess Heath are among other players who would be scheduled to return.
Melbourne Stars would be the club most impacted with Maia Bouchier, Alice Capsey and Sophia Dunkley all in England's squad, but at this stage look unlikely to make finals.
Clubs were aware of the possible scheduling clash when players were signed. Exemptions have been made in the past for players to stay on longer, and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that a similar push could be made in coming weeks for the English to feature in the final.
The loss of Knight in particular would come as a significant blow to the Thunder. The club have been the feel-good story of this summer's WBBL, going from winning one game last year to dropping just one of their opening eight this season.
They are now the frontrunners to automatically qualify to host the final, after sitting at the top of the ladder at the halfway mark.
Knight has been a pillar of Thunder's top-order this season in capitalising on big starts from their openers, hitting 168 runs at an average of 42 and strike-rate above 140.
Thunder coach Lisa Keightley does have strong links to the English setup, having previously coached the national side.
Scorchers would also be desperate to hang onto their English pairing if they reach the final. Sciver-Brunt is one of the most dangerous players in the competition, and while she was only signed for part of the season, the 31-year-old is expected to play out the rest of the tournament until England calls.