Finals Days: 0
Coach: Mark McInnes stepped up from his assistant role to take over the head coach position this week after former Australia captain Alex Blackwell took up a job offer from a Sydney hospital. The changeover should be seamless with McInnes and Blackwell having worked together extensively for New South Wales and Sydney Thunder.
Captain: England fast bowler Kate Cross takes over from Danielle Hazell, who has retired and will coach arch-rivals Yorkshire Diamonds this summer. Talisman Cross, 27, is closing in on 40 appearances for England across all formats. A regular for the Thunder since the Kia Super League’s inception in 2016.
Overseas signings: Harmanpreet Kaur (India), Sune Luus (South Africa), Tahlia McGrath (Australia).
The narrative: Lancashire were heartbroken at missing out on a maiden Finals Day last season. A win in the final round of group games against Southern Vipers was not enough to pip eventual champions Surrey Stars to third place in the table. This year, their last chance with the KSL to end after this season, they want to put that right.
The Star: Sophie Ecclestone, the England spinner, was named as the ICC’s Emerging Player of the Year for 2018. Now an international regular across all formats, the Chester-born left-armer claimed 15 wickets in last season’s Super League – the third best haul by any bowler.
Consistent performer: Alex Hartley, an England one-day World Cup winner in 2017, returned home to Lancashire colours from Surrey Stars last season and claimed 10 wickets. Has taken 27 wickets in three Super League seasons in all with her left-arm spin. Missed out on the Ashes and will feel she has a point to prove.
Under the radar: Emma Lamb, an all-rounder with England experience, is the brother of Lancashire men’s player Danny. A top order batter, the 21-year-old starred with her rapidly improving off-spinners last year, claiming 10 wickets.
Killer stat: Harmanpreet Kaur is only 90 runs away from reaching 2,000 career runs in T20 internationals. Only seven other players have achieved that feat, including England duo past and present Charlotte Edwards and Sarah Taylor.
Opening fixture: The Thunder host former champions Southern Vipers at Liverpool’s Aigburth ground on Tuesday August 6, starting at 2.30pm. The Vipers, who boast England batting pair Tammy Beaumont and Danni Wyatt amongst their squad along with New Zealand all-round star Suzie Bates, won the inaugural KSL title in 2016.
Finals Days: 2
The Narrative: Aiming to go one better than 2018, when their dominant form over the regular season saw them finish top of the KSL table with seven wins from 10 matches and earn a place in the final, only to lose out to Surrey Stars in the trophy match.
Coach: Rob Taylor – A left-arm seamer and a capable batsman, Taylor made 100 appearances in county cricket for Leicestershire and 68 in international cricket for Scotland, for whom he secured a place in national folklore when his unbeaten 46 against Kenya in Christchurch secured Scotland’s place at the 2015 World Cup. Head coach of Loughborough MCCU as well as Lightning.
Captain: Georgia Elwiss – An experienced all-rounder with more than 50 England caps to her name, the 28-year-old fast-medium bowler and middle-order batter has been Lightning’s captain since the launch of KSL in 2016. She has represented Melbourne Stars in the last two editions of the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia.
Chamari Atapattu (Sri Lanka)
Sri Lanka’s captain brings the experience of more than 150 international appearances in 50 and 20-over cricket. A strong top-order batter and useful medium-pace bowler, she made a sensational 178 not out against Australia at the 2017 World Cup, the third-highest individual score in women’s ODIs. Moves to Lightning from Yorkshire Diamonds.
Hayley Matthews (West Indies)
Still only 21, top-order batter and off-spin bowler Hayley made her international debut at just 16 and was the star of World T20 final two years later, hitting 66 off 45 balls as West Indies beat Australia to be crowned 2016 champions in India. A KSL finalist with Southern Vipers in 2017, she scored her first T20I hundred, against Ireland, earlier this summer.
Mignon du Preez (South Africa)
Mignon packs the experience of more than 200 international appearances for South Africa, half of them as captain, since her debut in 2007, scoring nearly 4,700 runs. A big name in domestic T20 cricket, Mignon was a KSL finalist alongside Matthews for Vipers in 2017 and has a strike rate of 102.4 over three seasons with Melbourne Stars in the Women’s Big Bash League.
Shabnim Ismael (South Africa)
Due to replace Hayley Matthews towards the end of the tournament when the West Indies star joins up with her national team, Shabnim is one of the fastest female bowlers in world cricket, having had a delivery timed at 128kph (80mph). A consistent top-quality bowler, she has taken more than 200 wickets in international cricket since her debut in 2007.
Amy Jones – An accomplished top-order batter and wicketkeeper who has become an outstanding international cricketer, posting 12 half-centuries for England in the last 15 months. In her fourth season with Lightning, her runs were key to several victories in 2018.
Kirstie Gordon – The breakout star of the 2018 KSL, the left-arm spinner rarely missed out, topping the competition wicket-takers’ list with 17 and earning an England call-up to the Womens’ World Twenty20 on the back of it.
Jenny Gunn – A veteran of more than 250 England appearances across all formats, Lightning’s 33-year-old senior pro went about her business with typically minimal fuss in 2018, contributing 14 wickets and useful runs batting at number seven.
Titles: 1 (2016)
Finals Days: 2
Coach: Nick Denning. The former Berkshire coach has been in charge of Vipers since 2016, having previously coached in Hampshire’s youth system.
Captain: Tammy Beaumont takes over the reins for the first time and comes into the tournament in decent form, having hit her maiden Ashes hundred in the recent ODI series against Australia. The 28-year-old will be keen to erase the memory of a dismal 2018 campaign when Vipers finished bottom of the table.
Overseas signings: The hugely experienced New Zealand all-rounder Suzie Bates returns for her fourth KSL campaign with the Vipers. She is joined by Australian all-rounder Sophie Molineux and Stafanie Taylor, the brilliant West Indies’ all-rounder who has scored more than 7,000 international runs and taken 223 wickets.
The narrative: The inaugural winners had a dismal campaign in 2018. They thrashed eventual champions Surrey Stars by seven wickets in their opening game but only won once more. Molineux and Taylor are world-class additions to their squad, and it will be interesting to see how Beaumont, who is regarded as a possible England captain of the future, leads the side.
The Star: Bates has been at the top of the world game for more than a decade now. She made her New Zealand debut in 2006 and the 31-year-old has gone on to score more than 7,400 international runs and taken 123 wickets with her waspish medium pace. Last season she scored 245 runs and took nine wickets and is easily capable of improving those performances this season.
Consistent performer: Tash Farrant, the left-arm seamer who played for England last year, took only the second hat-trick in KSL history in the defeat to Lancashire Thunder. She took 10 wickets last season and was Vipers’ joint leading wicket-taker.
Under the radar: Issy Wong is a 17-year-old fast bowler who starred in Warwickshire’s domestic T20 success earlier this year. Charlotte Edwards, Hampshire’s Director of Women’s Cricket and the former England captain, believes she is capable of bowling at 75-80mph in the next two years with the right coaching.
Killer stat: Vipers will use three different venues for home games this season, more than any other team. As well as Ageas Bowl, which hosts three fixtures they will also play at Hove and Arundel.
Opening fixture: Vipers head to Liverpool to play Lancashire Thunder on Tuesday. Their first home game is on August 11 against Western Storm at the Ageas Bowl.
Titles: 1 (2018)
Finals Days: 2
Coach: Richard Bedbrook. The 41-year-old has been in charge of Surrey’s KSL team since its inception in 2016 and is also responsible for coaching the county’s age-group teams. A former minor counties batsman with Wiltshire, last winter he spent time working with Hobart Hurricanes in Australia’s Big Bash tournament.
Captain: Nat Sciver. The England all-rounder, 26, broke into international cricket on the back of some impressive county performances for Surrey in 2013. She has gone on to play 131 times for her county across all formats, scoring more than 3,000 runs and taking 91 wickets. She led Stars to their first Kia Super League title in 2018.
Overseas signings: South African trio Marizanne Kapp, Lizelle Lee, Dane van Niekerk return for another season with Stars. Lee’s brilliant 104 off 58 balls was instrumental in last season’s final win over Loughborough Lightning. Kapp and van Niekerk, who were married just before last year’s tournament, bring a lot of international experience as well as consistency with bat and ball.
The narrative: Surrey are the team to beat after producing their best form in the second half of last season’s tournament to take the title. Although they have lost England all-rounder Sophia Dunkley to Lancashire, Gwen Davies, a left-hander who starred in Warwickshire’s domestic T20 title success earlier this season and previously played for Yorkshire Diamonds, is an exciting addition to their squad.
The Star: Lizelle Lee has the power to clear the ropes regularly as she demonstrated in last year’s final when she hit six sixes. The 27-year-old arrives in decent form having struck three half-centuries in South Africa’s T20 series against Pakistan in May.
Consistent performer: Hard to look beyond captain Sciver, who continues to deliver all-round skills. She was Surrey’s top scorer last season with 362 runs and also took 10 wickets.
Under the radar: Mady Villiers is a 20-year-old off-spinner who earned her first England senior call-up for the recent Ashes series. She took three for 22 in last year’s final against Loughborough and is capable of scoring lower-order runs too.
Killer stat: Surrey are the masters of the late run. They won just one of their first five games in 2018 before winning their last four including two on Finals Day.
Opening fixture: Surrey start their title defence at Headingley on August 6 against Yorkshire Diamonds before entertaining Lancashire Thunder at Guildford two days later.
Titles: 1 (2017)
Finals Days: 3
Coach: Long-serving Trevor Griffin, who guided Storm to the title in 2017, is back for another season after returning from a winter spent working Down Under with Sydney Thunder. Cardiff MCCU bowling coach Mark O’Leary will provide a new dimension after joining the backroom team for the first time this summer.
Captain: England World Cup winning skipper and top-order batsman Heather Knight will lead the side for a fourth season. The first woman to score 50 and take five wickets in a women’s one-day international, Knight is one of the most consistent performers in KIA Super League cricket. Hugely experienced, her leadership on the field and tactical nous will afford Storm a crucial edge.
Overseas signings: Smriti Mandhana (India), Rachel Priest (New Zealand), Deepti Sharma (India).
The narrative: Arguably the most consistent team since the inception of the KSL in 2016, Storm boast a 100 per cent record when it comes to qualifying for Finals Day. Beaten at the semi-final stage last year, the 2017 winners will be looking to bounce back strongly by reclaiming their crown and becoming the first side to lift the trophy twice.
The Star: Smriti Mandhana, the brilliant India opening bat, has enjoyed another prolific winter playing for Hobart Hurricanes in the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia. Having been named ICC women’s cricketer of the year for 2018, the 23-year-old from Mumbai scored the fastest 50 in T20 international history from just 24 balls in February and arrives back in the West in peak form. She set the KSL alight last year, finishing the tournament as the leading run scorer with 421 at an average of 60.14 with a best of 102.
Consistent performer: Awarded a central contract by the ECB earlier this year, fast bowler Freya Davies has played every match for Western Storm since the inception of KSL in 2016. A skilled new-ball operator, she has claimed 18 wickets in 25 appearances at an average of 34.83, regularly accounting for key top-order batsmen.
Under the radar: Cheltenham-born fast bowler Danielle Gibson may be just 18, but she is ready to make a major impact in KSL this summer. A product of the South West Regional Development Programme, she is expected to feature on a more regular basis after taking five wickets last year.
Killer stat: Currently the most prolific batter in the world, Smriti Mandhana has amassed 1,951 runs in 50 one-day internationals for India at an average of 42.41.
Opening fixture: Revenge will be uppermost in the minds of Heather Knight and her team when Storm launch their 2019 qualification campaign with an away fixture against last year’s runners-up, Loughborough Lightning, at Loughborough University on Tuesday. Arguably the most improved side in KSL last season, Lightning defeated Storm at the semi-final stage. A team that includes England players Georgia Elwiss, Rebecca Grundy, Amy Jones and Beth Langston will again be hard to beat.
Finals Days: 0
Coach: Danielle Hazell – An England World Cup winner in 2017 who has returned to Yorkshire colours but as head coach. Hazell started her Kia Super League career with the Diamonds before moving to captain Lancashire Thunder. She hung up her boots in the winter and has since replaced Paul Grayson in charge.
Captain: Lauren Winfield – Experienced opening bat who has skippered the Diamonds in each of the three previous KSL campaigns and will almost certainly pass the 500-run mark in this competition over the next few weeks. Like Hazell, won the one-day World Cup on home soil in 2017.
Overseas signings: Alyssa Healy (Australia), Leigh Kasperek (New Zealand), Jemimah Rodrigues (India).
The narrative: Yorkshire are aiming to finish the KSL with a bang and qualify for their first-ever Finals Day with a top-three finish in the group stage. They will also want to banish this frustration of losing both Roses fixtures last season and will be boosted by the signing of England fringe bowlers Katie George and Linsey Smith from Southern Vipers.
The Star: Australia wicketkeeper-batsman Alyssa Healy gets her first taste of the Super League and will open the batting with Winfield. Fresh from an Ashes victory, she was the player of the tournament and highest run-scorer with 225 at last winter’s World T20 in the Caribbean. Played once for Yorkshire women in 2012 whilst husband Mitchell Starc played for the White Rose men.
Consistent performer: Sheffield-born leg-spinner Katie Levick has been a part of the Diamonds squad since the start of the KSL in 2016 and has taken 21 wickets in 18 appearances. A big character in the dressing room as well. She loves nothing more than beating Lancashire.
Under the radar: If, as expected, Katherine Brunt’s availability is stymied as England manage her workloads, fellow all-rounder Alice Davidson-Richards will have to take on extra responsibility. ADR, 25, plays her county cricket for Kent but has Yorkshire family ties and has played six limited overs internationals for England. She spent her winter playing state cricket for Otago in New Zealand.
Killer stat: Ashes rivals Katherine Brunt and Alyssa Healy have a combined total of international appearances across all formats of 370.
Opening fixture: The Diamonds begin against the champions, Surrey Stars, under the Emerald Headingley floodlights at 7pm on Tuesday. The game will also be televised live by Sky Sports.