Sixers assume usual WBBL favourites status

Sydney Sixers fell short in last year's WBBL but are again favourites to perform well this summer.
Sydney Sixers fell short in last year's WBBL but are again favourites to perform well this summer.

Boasting some of the world's best players, the Sydney Sixers are used to being the hunted in the Women's Big Bash League.

And so, when the WBBL begins its maiden stand-alone season on Friday night, the Sixers will be anointed as firm favourites again.

Last summer's runners-up after a thrilling finals series ended in a loss to Brisbane in the decider, the Sixers will open the tournament against cross-town rivals the Thunder.

So often the champions at international level with Australia and domestic level with NSW, the likes of Ellyse Perry and Alyssa Healy will adopt the rare position of trying to reclaim a trophy.

But as always, they feel like it's not just the Heat most rivals will be rising to challenge, but the Sixers as well.

"I feel like everyone wants to beat the Sixers," Healy told AAP.

"It's like playing for NSW for so long. Everyone really wants to beat NSW just simply because of the success we have had.

"You feel it. You feel it when you are out there playing that people really want to beat you.

"But that's what I love. I'm as competitive as anyone. I like that challenge and I like that battle, so bring it on."

The Sixers have the world's best player in Perry, who averaged close to 100 with the bat for the majority of last summer but who is looking for further improvement with the ball.

Like Perry, Healy has also shown herself to be one of the game's form players this summer, having bludgeoned 750 runs at 83.33 for Australia in the past two months.

Power-hitter Ashleigh Gardner, injured quick Lauren Cheattle and South African stars Dane van Niekerk and Marizanne Kapp also add to their glamour-team status.

"I don't quite think we're the only team being hunted. I think the Heat have put a really strong side together and we'll be challenging," Healy said.

Heat's in-form wicketkeeper-batter Beth Mooney agrees, saying she doesn't see the Sixers as being on a pedestal any longer.

"I don't think anyone's a frontrunner ... every team has world class players and all you need is two or three to have a good game and that's the difference," said Mooney.

"So in terms of this year, everyone's starting from scratch and this year's the most even the competition has been."

The Heat have added exciting New Zealand all-rounder Amelia Kerr while Perth's young squad looks ready to come of age under Australia captain Meg Lanning.

Adelaide also have high hopes with the world's No.1 ranked bat Suzie Bates and top-ranked bowler Megan Schutt, but have only made the finals just once.

Hobart can also lay claim to having recruited the best after raiding the Thunder's stocks and should rise from their wooden-spoon position of the past two years with Aussie quick Tayla Vlaeminck another addition.

Australian Associated Press