Sydney Thunder’s WBBL team will begin their Championship defence tomorrow night in Hobart when they face the Adelaide Strikers.
The Thunder will go from the hunters to the hunted this season after winning WBBL|06 in unique circumstances last year.
While teams will no longer have to play out of a single hub this season, WBBL|07 matches will only be played at venues in Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia due to COVID impacting NSW, ACT and Victoria.
Speaking with the Weekender, Foundation Thunder player Samantha Bates said not being able to play in Sydney this year is a bitter pill to swallow.
“I think we were blessed last year being able to play all of our games in Sydney in the hub, which helped us immensely in the Final especially having our fans there trying to get us over the finish line,” she said.
“It is gut-wrenching that we can’t play in front of our fans this season, but I know they’ll be watching from home and cheering us on in any way they can.”
The Thunder will be looking to do what the Brisbane Heat and Sydney Sixers have done before them and that’s win back-to-back WBBL titles.
Bates, who enjoyed an outstanding season last year, said she’s hungrier than ever to keep the good times rolling despite a few familiar faces departing.
“Everyone who wins a title wants to keep winning right? So I suppose it puts a bit of a target on our back because teams will be hunting us and wanting to beat us,” she said.
“The challenge for us is we have three new internationals coming in and we unfortunately lost Heather Knight and Tammy Beaumont, who played big roles last year securing the win for us.
“Fortunately we’ve managed to sign a few new local players and others from different states, so I think the challenge for us is gelling like a team again and getting to know each other.”
Studying to be a paramedic away from cricket, Bates has been with the Thunder since 2015. The 29-year-old left-arm orthodox spinner said she’s proud to be part of Thunder Nation and could never see herself leaving.
Sydney Thunder’s season kicks off tomorrow in Hobart.
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.