WBBL 2021-22 – Thunder sign Issy Wong; Linsey Smith joins Stars for WBBL


Wong turned down a holiday in Italy to replace Shabnim Ismail at Sydney Thunder, while Smith adds international experience to a young Melbourne Stars attack

Sydney Thunder have signed 19-year-old England quick Issy Wong while Melbourne Stars have recruited left-arm orthodox spinner Linsey Smith for the upcoming WBBL.

Wong was an extremely late addition to the Thunder squad after Shabnim Ismail was ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury. The 19-year-old, who has been part of England’s training squad, was preparing to go on holiday to Italy when she got a call from Thunder coach Trevor Griffin.

“It was a no-brainer,” Wong said. “When you get such an opportunity you can’t say ‘no’ to it.

“This really is a great opportunity for me. I’m still very young, and to have this sort of exposure, and in such a respected league as the WBBL, is super-exciting.

“I’m grateful to Sydney Thunder for putting their faith in me and giving me this opportunity.”

Meanwhile, the Stars have added the experienced Smith to bolster their attack. Smith, 26, has played 9 T20Is for England and took 9 wickets in just 7 matches in the women’s Hundred for Northern Superchargers, at an excellent economy rate of 5.54.

Stars coach Jarrad Loughman was pleased to add a senior bowler to his young side.

“Linsey will add another level of versatility to our squad this season with her left-arm spin and batting in the middle order. Her experiences on the international stage will be beneficial to our squad, that is diverse in age and experience,” Loughman said.

“She had a terrific English summer, highlighted by a strong tournament at The Hundred.”

The Stars have also signed 20-year-old wicketkeeper Maddy Darke. She has previously played for Sydney Sixers in the WBBL but was starved of opportunity behind Alyssa Healy. Darke toured England with Australia A in 2019 and is currently part of Western Australia’s WNCL squad having moved from New South Wales in 2021.

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