They may have collected last year's wooden spoon, but Tahlia Wilson believes Sydney Thunder have the tools to be among the frontrunners in the upcoming Women's Big Bash League.
There is a fresh air of anticipation at Cricket Central as the Thunder prepare to enter a new era under head coach Lisa Keightley and recently-signed captain, English international Heather Knight. The women in green have also recruited South African star Marizanne Kapp and English quick Lauren Bell.
The 2023 WBBL kicks off on Thursday night with the Sixers hosting the Melbourne Stars, while the Thunder's campaign begins against their cross-town Sydney rivals on Sunday.
Despite only being 23, Wilson is one of the most experienced figures in the Thunder outfit, as the Albion Park wicketkeeper prepares for her sixth WBBL season. It shapes as one of her most important campaigns with the franchise as they aim to drastically improve on finishing last in 2022.
"We've met up for the first time today and everyone is really excited. Our squad is fairly similar to the last few seasons, with a few fresh faces as well," Wilson told the Mercury.
"We're really confident. Sometimes you have a season like last year, but with a new coach in Lisa Keightley and Heather Knight being our new skipper, we're all raring to go. I think Lisa will bring a refreshed style of play for us and when she spoke to us this morning, she's definitely got us all excited for the season ahead.
"And I think Heather will be really important for us. I know that a few years back, she came across and we won the title, so no pressure on her. But she's been an awesome leader for England for the last six or seven years, not only with the tactics that she has, but bringing the team together off the field as well.
"I'm looking forward to being around her again this season."
Meanwhile, Wollongong's Erin Burns will also have high expectations as she returns to the Sixers for the 2023 season. Burns re-committed to the franchise on a two-year deal in July 2022, before going on to enjoy a near-perfect campaign just months later.
The veteran was a key figure in Sydney's middle order, averaging nearly 33 at a strike rate of 145.32, as she was named in the best WBBL side of the tournament.
Burns' good form also translated in good form for her side, with the Sixers claiming the minor premiership before losing to Adelaide in heart-breaking fashion in the final, falling by 10 runs. The 35-year-old, alongside the likes of Australian stars Ellyse Perry, Ash Gardner and Alyssa Healy, is set to play a crucial role as Sydney aim to go one step further this season.
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