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As Mandhana considers pulling out of WBBL, world No.1 T20 bowler Ecclestone signs up for Sydney Sixers

Sydney, Sep 13 (IANS) Even as India women’s cricket team vice-captain Smriti Mandhana is considering pulling out of the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) in Australia to manage her workload and avoid any injuries and niggles, to keep herself fit for international commitments, the world’s No.1 ranked T20I bowler, left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone, has no such issues as she joined Sydney Sixers for the upcoming season of the lucrative tournament.

Mandhana had played for city rivals Sydney Thunder in the previous edition of the WBBL, enjoying great success with the bat.

Mandhana is currently playing in the international white-ball games against England, which started with a T20I series on September 10. She feels that managing the physical part becomes important considering the volume of cricket. “I have been on the road for a while now post the World Cup. But I have just tried to tell myself that because of Covid we couldn’t play much cricket. We really hoped we could come back and play a lot of cricket. I can’t be complaining that we don’t have a lot of cricket on the platter,” Mandhana had said in a virtual press conference on Monday.

However, England’s Sophie Ecclestone has committed herself to the WBBL for the upcoming season, saying playing alongside the likes of Alyssa Healy, Ellyse Perry and Ash Gardner is something she is looking forward to to improve her skills futher.

Sydney Sixers coach Charlotte Edwards said she was “delighted” to secure a bowler like Ecclestone, 23, for her accuracy and tight economy rate.

“They play in my favourite colour — so that’s a great start,” said Ecclestone on the Sixers website.

“Obviously they have great players with the likes of (Alyssa) Healy, (Ellyse) Perry and (Ash) Gardner, so I’m really excited about going over and playing with them.

“It’ll be nice not to have to bowl at them… it’s nice they’ll be on my team for once! I’m excited (by the thought of getting) to know them and to start training with them and play in the same team,” added Ecclestone.

Since making her international debut against Pakistan in 2016 as a 17-year-old, Ecclestone has forged her reputation as the world’s premier T20I bowler via her 78 wickets from only 58 matches, according to Sydney Sixers.

Edwards said Ecclestone was especially targeted to fill a need in the Sixers line-up, adding the left-armer’s proven record in Australian conditions means she should start the season brimming with confidence.

“Sophie is the (world’s) leading T20 bowler — her record over the past few years speaks for itself — and we’re delighted to have her at the Sixers,” said Edwards. “In my opinion, we have recruited the best.

“She can bowl in all phases of the game; she has the ability to take wickets at crucial times, and she can minimise the run-scoring at all times. I know the WBBL is a competition Sophie wants to play in, and the fact she’s had lots of experience playing in Australia will hold her in good stead.”

Ecclestone’s efforts during the 2019 World T20 Cup indicate she’ll feel at home bowling in Australia. During that tournament she took eight wickets in four matches at a phenomenal economy rate of 3.23 runs per over.

The spin wizard said it pleased her to know that she is headed for a competition she’s always wanted to test herself in.

“It’s been a long time coming,” she said of playing in the WBBL. “I’ve been meaning to go for a few years now. I’m so excited that, this year, it’s worked out well and I can get over there.

“I’ve seen a lot of it. A few of the England girls have been over in the past and they’ve loved the competition. I’ll hopefully enjoy myself.”

Besides her bowling prowess, Ecclestone is also a big-hitting lower order batter blessed with the ability to hit towering sixes. She appreciates coach Edwards will give her a license to thrill with the willow during her time with the Sixers.

“It’s nice (Edwards) backs my batting as well as my bowling,” said Ecclestone. “Hopefully I can contribute as an allrounder.”

–IANS

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