They may be without Heather Knight, but there’s still plenty of belief circulating in the Hobart Hurricanes camp ahead of their third WBBL campaign starting on Saturday.
The Hurricanes have retained star West Indian all-rounder Hayley Matthews and replaced Knight (injured) and Amy Satterthwaite (Renegades) with Indian Veda Krishnamurthy and England’s Lauren Winfield.
The Examiner spoke to the Hurricanes’ coach and international and local players ahead of the side’s season opener against Adelaide.
Former Test cricketer Price has enjoyed a solid two seasons as Hurricanes coach, leading her side to successive semi-finals.
The 45-year-old knows she faces a tough ask to take the Hurricanes a step further this season but is confident her troops are up for the challenge.
“Our plan is just to make the semi-final initially and then we’ll worry about getting into the final,” Price said.
“With the change of team it can change the balance a little bit, so we’re just trying to work on how everyone will fit in the team and where they slot in and hopefully a few of our local players who have been playing for the last few years can step up and maybe fill in for a few of those players we’ve lost.”
Key to her plans will be Indian recruit Veda Krishnamurthy, who impressed against Price’s Ireland side in last year’s T20 world cup.
“Veda’s had a great impact with the Indian team in the last couple of years, particularly in that T20 format, so we’re hoping she’ll be that middle-order destroyer for us and a big hitter and she also bowls some pretty handy offies and leggies, so we’re really excited about what she can bring to the team.
“With the loss of Heather Knight through injury and Satterthwaite that’s two of our spinners who have gone... but Veda’s another international and it’ll be a great experience to have her around the group showing us what she can do.”
The 19-year-old West Indian was one of the stars of the WBBL last season, scoring 185 runs and taking 20 wickets across 14 matches.
Matthews said she wasn’t approached by other clubs in the off-season and wouldn’t have wanted to move even if she had.
“I love it down here and playing every year so I don’t reckon I’d even think about moving anywhere else,” she said.
“Every game you see the standard of the competition getting better and better… so coming down here and being able to play helps improve my game as well.”
Despite the loss of Knight, Satterthwaite Erin Burns and Julie Hunter from last year’s squad, Matthews was bullish about her side’s prospects in WBBL03.
“We have a really good squad.
“We’ve lost a couple of players this year but we’ve also gained quite a few players as well and looking at the team I think we have a really good squad.
“We got into the semi-finals the previous two years and I think we have the firepower this year to push it one step further.”
The Hurricanes’ first-ever Indian international was so keen to play Big Bash she jumped at Hobart’s offer before she’d even seen the contract.
The 25-year-old said she hoped the competition would give her the freedom to play her natural game and work on her bowling.
“Here I think I can be more of myself and be more comfortable,” she said.
“I’ve played as more of a finisher for my country for all these years so I’m looking forward to batting a little higher up here and get some bowling in which I don’t usually get to do in India.
“(Hopefully) I can get some skill up so the coach back home gives me some bowling.”
Krishnamurthy said her new Hobart teammates had been noticeably more hospitable than the Southern Stars on game day.
“I knew Hayley because I’ve played against her a lot of times and Lauren, but the local girls I’m getting to know them, they’re trying to make me feel really comfortable and being really nice to me - unlike the Aussies.”
The newly-appointed Tassie Roar skipper took 11 wickets last campaign and was her side’s third most-used bowler behind Matthews and Satterthwaite.
Hepburn will likely be asked to shoulder even more responsibility with the ball this season.
“I took a lot of confidence from last season,” the 27-year-old said.
“I felt like I bowled well consistently and I think my game’s suited better to T20 cricket, I like to bowl a lot of slower balls and change-ups and those sort of things which I think is really important in the Big Bash League when you have batters going really hard.
“I’m looking forward to the season and feeling really excited to get started.”
Few will be more prepared for the WBBL season than Fryett.
The Bracknell fast bowler spent the winter plying her trade in Ireland, playing club cricket as well as the country’s premier competition, the Super 3s.
“I was able to work on a lot of things over there and get a bit more consistency in all different parts of my game,” she said.
“I’m looking forward to changing from the 50-over stuff into the Big Bash and continuing the form we’ve had in the first couple of years of WBBL.”
An injury-free pre-season has given Phillips her best run into a Big Bash season yet and the former Launceston all-rounder has her sights set on cementing a spot in the Hurricanes lineup.
The 21-year-old said she was expecting the team to flourish under new skipper Corinne Hall.
“Corinne’s been in and around the Tasmanian setup for quite a few years now so I think she’s got a lot of respect from the group and she’s going to step up and do a really great job as captain,” Phillips said.
“I’m sure that she’ll get the most out of us and I’m sure as well she’s going to really want to step up and try and keep performing in with the bat and also in the field where she’s a real standout for us.”