Several big named Australians are out of contract. Who could be of interest when the contract window opens?
Next season's Women's Big Bash League has yet to be given a start date, nor has the contract window ahead of it.
However, when WBBL|06 goes ahead, there is a strong possibility that it could be held without its biggest international stars. With the possible notable exception of New Zealanders, who would be part of the trans-Tasman travel bubble currently being considered, all other nationalities could be prohibited from coming to Australia.
Last season saw numerous foreign stars from England, Ireland, New Zealand Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies. Should the travel restrictions not change, current out of contract Australian players will arguably be of great value for WBBL teams trying to round out their playing squads.
Several big names are currently out of contract and available.
The biggest name is arguably national team captain, Meg Lanning. She spent her two first WBBL seasons with the Melbourne Stars. She has spent the last three with the Perth Scorchers, missing out on WBBL|03 due to a shoulder injury.
In her four active seasons Lanning has made 1982 runs, including 531 last season. It is for this reason that new Scorchers coach Shelley Nitschke has stated that keeping Lanning in Perth is her "No.1 priority". The 11 time WBBL Player of the Match has stated she has yet to make a decision as to her domestic T-20 future.
Going east a big name out of contract for the Adelaide Strikers is Kangaroo Island native Bridget Patterson. She scored 319 runs and two half-centuries during WBBL|05, earning her a call up to the Australia A national team.
Her performances also helped the Strikers reach their highest ever WBBL finish, coming runners up to the Brisbane Heat with a franchise high 10 regular season wins.
Should the Adelaide team want to match or best this record they will want to keep Patterson's hitting power.
In the Victorian capital one name available is Sophie Molineux. The twenty-two year old has been with the Melbourne Renegades since the beginning of the WBBL. She was also the only all-rounder in last year's squad, a squad that counted three non-Kiwi international batters.
Molineux, who was part of the T-20 World Cup Australian winning national team last March, is one of the youngsters with the brightest futures in cricket. With her left-arm spin-bowling all rounder capabilities she comes with a unique set of skills which Melbourne will arguably want to keep.
The Hobart Hurricanes currently have one big name up for grabs in Belinda Vakarewa. The pace bowler, who started her career with the Sydney Thunder, made the move to Tasmania last year.
The move paid off with Vakarewa taking 20 wickets at an average of 15.80, the third highest in the WBBL|05, and resulted in her winning the Hurricanes player of the season. With three overseas all-rounder marquee players most likely missing next season, Hobart may find it important to retain her services.
Perhaps the team with the most to gain or most to loose is the Brisbane Heat. While the only international players the team had were from New Zealand, they have lost the services of their captain Kirby Short who announced her retirement after WBBL|05.
The back-to-back WBBL champions have two out of contract marquee Australian stars as well as two talented locals they could loose. Should they wish to aim for a third consecutive WBBL championship keeping them will be essential.
Beth Mooney will arguably be their biggest target. The twenty-five year old national team member hit 743 runs last season, including nine half-centuries for an average of 74.30. This placed her second only to Kiwi Sophie Devine from the Adelaide Strikers in runs. She also hit 56 from 45 in the WBBL final, winning Player of the Final for the second consecutive season.
A proud Queenslander, she has expressed that she does not see herself at playing for any team other than the Brisbane franchise. However, she has also conceded that the opportunities available within the WBBL make moving a possibility.
As the team's wicketkeeper and most consistent batsmen, it is within the Heat's interest to lock down Moody's services.
Another Australian national team member which the Heat could loose this year is all rounder Jess Jonassen. The left-handed all rounder, who has played with the Brisbane team since its inception, took 21 wickets and made 419 runs during WBBL|05.
The Queensland native has expressed her desire to stay with the Heat, with whom she has played since the beginning of the WBBL. The all around performances she is able to create would be useful to any WBBL team though.
Grace Harris and Sammy-Jo Johnson are two Brisbane Heat local talents who are available. The all-rounder and pace bowler respectively have played with the Heat since the beginning, bar WBBL|02 for Harris.
Harris took six wickets and made 212 runs in WBBL|05. While not her best year, she has shown she is capable of more. Johnson took 18 wickets in the tournament. Both were instrumental in helping the Heat to back-to-back championships. To continue this run, Brisbane will arguably continue to need their services.
In conclusion, the WBBL has gone from strength to strength from year to year. There is currently a lot of local star talent available ahead of WBBL|06. Whether this talent will move once the contract window opens will be seen.